Esther McVey becomes new Conservative deputy chief whip following Michael Fallon-inspired reshuffle

Tatton MP returns to the Government in reshuffle following Defence Secretary Michael Fallon's shock resignation

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Thursday 02 November 2017 14:28 GMT
Esther McVey becomes deputy chief whip after resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
Esther McVey becomes deputy chief whip after resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (Reuters)

Former welfare minister Esther McVey has returned to the government as deputy chief whip following a reshuffle triggered by the resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Ms McVey was ousted from her Wirral West seat in the 2015 election but was returned to Parliament in this year's poll after standing in George Osborne's former Tatton constituency.

Her predecessor in the post, Julian Smith, has been elevated to head the whip's office after Theresa May announced that her top parliamentary enforcer Gavin Williamson would become the new Defence Secretary.

The Prime Minister was forced to shuffle her top team when Sir Michael became the first Cabinet casualty of the growing Westminster sexual harassment scandal, in a shock resignation on Wednesday night.

The ex-defence secretary had admitted making unwanted advances on a female journalist in 2012 and told Ms May that his behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required" of the post.

Ms McVey, a former TV presenter, will play key role in enforcing party discipline, as well as making sure Tory MPs vote with the Government on pivotal issues.

The whips play an increasingly important part in ensuring Government business is passed through the Commons after Ms May lost her parliamentary majority in the election.

Allegations of sexual abuse and harassment have been sweeping Westminster in recent days following the emergence of a so-called 'dirty dossier' detailing claims of sexual misconduct by some 40 Tory MPs.

Ms May has announced an investigation into contested claims that her de-facto deputy Damian Green made inappropriate advances on a female journalist, while International Trade minister Mark Garnier admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys and calling her 'sugar tits'.

Labour has also faced claims that a senior party official warned young activist Bex Bailey not to report allegations that she was raped at a Labour party event in 2011.

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