Maria Miller quit this morning the day after Breitbart London published a poll that showed 34 percent of people who voted Conservative at the last general election said they would reconsider their voting preference on the basis of her actions. The embattled Culture Secretary had been under huge pressure to resign following her 32 second apology for breaking expenses rules.
The Culture Secretary’s problems started when she was investigated for sharing her taxpayer funded Wimbledon home with her parents. Although the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Huddon, had wanted her to pay back £45,000 instead a committee of MPs made her repay just £5,800.
Miller was described as having “got off lightly” by Sir Alistair Graham, the ex-chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards in Public Life. Throughout the process, which lasted 14 months, Miller used delay tactics including “lengthy procedural challenges” and inadequate responses to Hudson’s questions.
The resignation comes after mounting pressure from Conservatives because of fears that the party may lose significant support in the upcoming local and European elections. However the Conservative leadership had hoped to tough it out until Easter recess, on Thursday.
In our poll, 21 percent of voters said that they were content with the Conservative Party leadership, with half of those polled (49 percent) saying they had no confidence in both David Cameron as prime minister, and Grant Shapps, as Conservative Party Chairman.
The resignation is likely to turn down the heat on David Cameron ahead of today’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, and his pre-holiday meeting with backbench MPs. He had been expected to take a battering at both if Miller remained in her post.
In her letter of resignation, sent at around 7am this morning, Mrs Miller defended her work on press regulation, something that her supporters claimed led to a ‘witch hunt’ against her.
She said: “Of course, implementing the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson on the future of media regulation, following the phone hacking scandals, would always be controversial for the press.”
David Cameron wrote back: “Working together with you, I believe we struck the right balance between protecting the freedom of the press and ensuring fairness, particularly for victims of press intrusion, to have a clear right of redress.”
“As you leave the Government, you should be proud of your service on the Frontbench and in Opposition… I am personally very grateful for the support you have always given me, and which I am sure that you will continue to give.
“I hope that you will be able to return to serving the Government on the Frontbench in due course, and am only sad that you are leaving the Government in these circumstances.”
Miller has been replaced as Culture Secretary by Sajid Javid. He will be replaced as Financial Secretary to the Treasury by Nicky Morgan. She’ll also be Minister for Women and will attend Cabinet in that role.