Esther McVey

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Esther McVey

Official portrait of Esther McVey crop 2.jpg
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
8 January 2018 – 15 November 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
DeputyAlok Sharma
Preceded byDavid Gauke
Succeeded byAmber Rudd
Deputy Chief Government Whip
Treasurer of the Household
In office
2 November 2017 – 8 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Chief WhipJulian Smith
Preceded byJulian Smith
Succeeded byChristopher Pincher
Chair of the British Transport Police Authority
In office
19 November 2015 – 2 May 2017
DeputyBrian Phillpott
Mark Phillips
Sec. of StateSir Patrick McLoughlin
Chris Grayling
Preceded byMillie Banerjee
Succeeded byRon Barclay-Smith
Minister of State for Employment
In office
7 October 2013 – 8 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Sec. of StateIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byMark Hoban
Succeeded byPriti Patel
Under-Secretary of State for Disabilities
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Sec. of StateIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byMaria Miller
Succeeded byMike Penning
Member of Parliament
for Tatton
Assumed office
9 June 2017
Preceded byGeorge Osborne
Majority14,787 (30.1%)
Member of Parliament
for Wirral West
In office
6 May 2010 – 7 May 2015
Preceded byStephen Hesford
Succeeded byMargaret Greenwood
Personal details
Esther Louise McVey

(1967-10-24) 24 October 1967 (age 51)
Liverpool, England
Political partyConservative
Domestic partnerPhilip Davies[1]
Alma materQueen Mary College, University of London
City University London
Liverpool John Moores University

Esther Louise McVey (born 24 October 1967) is a British Conservative Party politician who served as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from January 2018 to November 2018, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Tatton since 2017.[2] She was the MP for Wirral West in the House of Commons from 2010 to 2015.

Before entering politics, McVey was a businesswoman and television presenter, and co-presented GMTV with Eamonn Holmes. McVey served in the Cameron Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People from 2012 to 2013, prior to being appointed Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions from 2013 to 2015. She was sworn of the Privy Council in February 2014, and was accorded the further privilege of attending Cabinet as Minister of State for Employment in the 2014 British cabinet reshuffle. [3]

She was elected at the 2017 general election as Member of Parliament for Tatton, succeeding former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Prior to her election, she served as Chair of the British Transport Police. She served in the May Government as Deputy Chief Whip from 2017 to 2018. She was appointed Work and Pensions Secretary on 8 January 2018, but resigned on 15 November 2018 in opposition to the Brexit negotiations and the Withdrawal Agreement.

Early life and career[edit]

McVey, of Irish Catholic descent,[4] was born in Liverpool. She spent the first two years of her life in foster care as a Barnardo's child.[5] She was educated at the Belvedere School, before reading Law at Queen Mary University of London (LLB) and Radio Journalism at City University London (MA). In July 2009, McVey graduated with the degree of MSc (with Distinction) in Corporate Governance from Liverpool John Moores University, and also won the North of England Excellence Award[6]

From 2000 to 2006, McVey was a director of her family's Liverpool-based construction business J. G. McVey & Co. (run by her father)[7] which specialised in demolition and site clearance,[8] land reclamation and regeneration. In 2003, the firm received two immediate prohibition safety notices with which the company complied.[9]

Media career[edit]

McVey returned to the family business after university, while undertaking a postgraduate course in Radio Journalism at City University, before embarking on a career in the media, both as a presenter and producer.[10]

McVey was a co-presenter of the summer holiday Children's BBC strand But First This in 1991, and has subsequently presented and produced a wide range of programmes, co-hosting GMTV,[11] BBC1's science entertainment series How Do They Do That?,[12] 5's Company, The Heaven and Earth Show, Shopping City, BBC2's youth current affairs programme Reportage, and Channel 4's legal series Nothing But The Truth with Ann Widdecombe.[13][14] McVey has debated at the Oxford Union and Cambridge Union and took part in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool.[15]

McVey returned to Liverpool and set up her own business, Making It (UK) Ltd,[16] which provides training for small and medium enterprises, as well as providing office space for new startup businesses which led to her founding "Winning Women",[17] supported by funding from the North West Regional Development Agency.[18]

Political career[edit]

A supporter of Conservative Way Forward,[19] a Thatcherite organisation, McVey was selected to stand as the Conservative Party candidate in the 2005 general election for the Wirral West constituency, but lost to the sitting Labour MP Stephen Hesford by 1,097 votes.[20]

Member of Parliament for Wirral West[edit]

In the 2010 general election, McVey gained Wirral West defeating the Labour candidate, Phil Davies, by a 2,436 majority (16,726 votes cast, 42.5% vote share).[21] In 2010, McVey was Parliamentary Private Secretary to then-Employment Minister Chris Grayling.[22] From 2012 to 2013, she was Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Work and Pensions, working under Iain Duncan Smith.[23]

In December 2013, she was formally reprimanded for using House of Commons notepaper and postage to electioneer for the Conservative Party; she apologised and repaid the £300 costs.[24]

David Cameron appointed McVey Minister of State for Employment in the Department for Work and Pensions in an October 2013 reshuffle. McVey was later sworn into the Privy Council on 27 February 2014.[25]

In November 2014, then-backbench Labour MP John McDonnell discussed a "Sack Esther McVey Day" among Labour activists and politicians, saying that "a whole group in the audience" argued 'Why are we sacking her? Why aren't we lynching the bastard?'"[26] The Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps called for Labour to withdraw the whip from McDonnell.[26] The official Labour Party Twitter feed said McDonnell's comments "don't represent the views of the Labour Party. He speaks for himself".[27] In 2015, speaking to Robert Peston of ITV, McDonnell defended his comments by saying that he was "simply report[ing] what was shouted out at a public meeting". On the same day as his "lynch" remarks, in a debate in the House of Commons, McDonnell criticised McVey for playing the victim and proceeded to call her a "stain of inhumanity".[28]

Out of parliament (2015–17)[edit]

In the 2015 general election, McVey was defeated by the Labour candidate Margaret Greenwood who gained the Wirral West seat by 417 votes.[29][30]

After losing her seat, McVey took up the post of chair of the British Transport Police Authority from November 2015, on a four-year contract with a three months' notice requirement. However, 10 days after it was announced that a 2017 general election would take place, McVey resigned the post having been paid between £86,000 and £89,000 in 15 months. Between the elections she also had part-time jobs as a special adviser to two investment firms and a fellowship at the University of Hull.[31]

Member of Parliament for Tatton[edit]

In April 2017, McVey was selected to succeed George Osborne as the Conservative candidate for the June 2017 general election in his safe seat of Tatton.[32] She was elected, with around the same vote share as Osborne gained in 2015 (58.6%), but with a decreased majority. In a reshuffle prompted by Sir Michael Fallon's resignation as Secretary of State for Defence in the wake of sexual assault allegations, and in which former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson replaced Fallon and his deputy Julian Smith replaced Williamson, McVey was appointed Deputy Chief Government Whip.

On 8 January 2018, McVey was appointed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a post she held until 15 November 2018 when she resigned over the Brexit deal.[33] Labour MP Dan Carden said McVey's appointment "will put fear in the hearts of the vulnerable and disabled. The last time McVey was at DWP she was ejected from parliament by the voters of Wirral West."[34]

In July 2018 it was reported by the head of the National Audit Office (NAO) that McVey had misled parliament over the new Universal Credit scheme by claiming that the NAO report showed that it should be rolled out faster when in fact the report concluded that the roll-out should be paused.[35] She apologised to the House of Commons on 4 July 2018[36][37] amid calls for her resignation.[37] Margaret Greenwood said in Parliament, "The secretary of state should be ashamed that she has been forced to come to this house again. If she misread this report so badly this brings in to question her competence and her judgment. If she did read the report and chose to misrepresent its findings, she has clearly broken the ministerial code. Either way, she should resign."[38]

McVey has said that there are problems with Universal Credit. The Guardian wrote, "Tens of thousands of ESA claimants will receive back-payments of £5,000–£20,000 as a result of what MPs have called a series of 'avoidable' mistakes. The DWP was warned of the error as early as 2014, but failed to take action until 2017."[39] Polly Toynbee wrote, "It's no surprise that a minister who misleads parliament and thumbs her nose at the NAO is even more indifferent to the people who really matter – the millions suffering her department's infliction of extreme hardship as they are transferred to UC."[40]

On 15 November, McVey announced her resignation over Brexit following May's publication of the draft proposed deal.[41] She was replaced by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[42]

Personal life[edit]

McVey lives in West Kirby, Wirral. McVey has previously been in a relationship with BBC producer Mal Young,[43] as well as former Conservative frontbencher Ed Vaizey.[44] When in London, she formerly shared a flat in Pimlico with Conservative colleague, Philip Davies,[45] with whom she has had a "long time on-and-off romantic interest".[46] They were reported to be partners in July 2018.[1] The house-sharing arrangement ended when McVey lost her seat at the 2015 general election.[47]

A longstanding friend of Kate McCann, McVey helped her family set up the Madeleine McCann Fund, becoming a founding trustee.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Shipman, Tim (15 July 2018). "The odd couple clicked at last, but Tory plotters won't be pacified as easily as Donald Trump". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 August 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ "Esther McVey letter of resignation". Twitter.[non-primary source needed]
  3. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  4. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 Jun 2012 (pt 0001)". Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  5. ^ "I was a Barnardo's child, Esther McVey reveals". The Times. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  6. ^ North of England Excellence (1 April 2015). "Overview".
  7. ^ "Esther McVey".
  8. ^ "Esther McVey selected as Parliamentary Candidate". Wirral West Conservatives.
  9. ^ Wall, Tom (9 October 2013). "McVey loses safety brief". Environmental Health News. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  10. ^ Odone, Cristina (16 February 2014). "Esther McVey: 'Marriage never came my way. I don't know why'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  11. ^ Wightman, Catriona (2 January 2017). "CBBC's most iconic presenters: Where are they now?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  12. ^ O'Grady, Sean (4 July 2018). "Esther McVey received less of a grilling for misleading parliament than most vulnerable people do trying to claim universal credit". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  13. ^ Hernon, Ian (19 May 2010). "Political correspondent Ian Hernon meets new Wirral West MP Esther McVey". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Prospective parliamentary candidate Esther McVey for Wirral West". Wirral West Conservatives. Archived from the original on 1 February 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  15. ^ Hancock, Beverley (2003). "The Vagina Monologues". Liverpool Stage. BBC. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  16. ^ "The Pool of business at the House".
  17. ^ "Winning Women – About Us". Winning Women. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  18. ^ Collinson, Dawn (29 November 2010). "MP Esther McVey launches a magazine to inspire teenage girls". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  19. ^ Hope, Christopher (15 July 2014). "Pen portraits of the 10 Conservative women ministers who were promoted in the reshuffle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  20. ^ "BBC News Election 2005. Results Wirral West". BBC. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  21. ^ "UK General Election Wirral West Vote Result". BBC.
  22. ^ "Government publishes list of Parliamentary Private Secretaries". Government of the United Kingdom. 17 November 2010.
  23. ^ Godfrey, Hannah (9 January 2018). "Esther McVey – All advisers need to know about new DWP chief". Professional Adviser. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  24. ^ Eden, Richard (1 December 2013). "Tory rising star Esther McVey is formally reprimanded". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  25. ^ "Privy Council appointments: February 2014" (Press release). Office of the Prime Minister. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  26. ^ a b Coates, Sam (14 November 2014). "Labour refuses to sack MP for lynching joke". The Times. Retrieved 27 April 2017. (subscription required)
  27. ^ Hope, Christopher (13 November 2014). "Labour distances itself from MP's lynching remarks". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  28. ^ Asthana, Anushka (25 September 2016). "McDonnell defends calling Tory MP 'stain of inhumanity'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  29. ^ Carter, Helen (8 May 2015). "Conservative Esther McVey loses her Wirral seat by just over 400 votes". The Independent. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  30. ^ Bartlett, David (8 May 2015). "Esther McVey Lost: What went wrong in Wirral West?". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  31. ^ "McVey's paydays". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 25 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Esther McVey selected to contest Tatton for Conservatives". BBC News. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  33. ^ "Esther McVey has just been promoted to Work and Pensions Minister". Liverpool Echo. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  34. ^ Walsh, James (9 January 2018). "'McVey's appointment is vindictive': readers on the Tory reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  35. ^ Syal, Rajeev (4 July 2018). "Esther McVey misled MPs over universal credit, says watchdog". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  36. ^ McVey, Esther (4 July 2018). "Oral statement to Parliament – Universal Credit and National Audit Office report". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  37. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev (4 July 2018). "Calls for McVey to resign over misleading MPs on welfare changes". The Guardian.
  38. ^ "Esther McVey refuses to widen apology over claim she misled MPs". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  39. ^ Butler, Patrick (19 July 2018). "Esther McVey admits ongoing problems with universal credit". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  40. ^ Toynbee, Polly (5 July 2018). "Esther McVey has to go. Her downright lies are dangerous". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  41. ^ "Brexit: Dominic Raab and Esther McVey among ministers to quit over EU agreement". BBC News. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  42. ^ "Amber Rudd back in cabinet as work and pensions secretary". BBC News. BBC. 16 November 2018.
  43. ^ Odone, Cristina (16 February 2014). "Esther McVey: 'Marriage never came my way. I don't know why'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  44. ^ Rajan, Amol; Morris, Nigel (25 April 2009). "You probably won't have heard of them ... but they're the Tory future". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  45. ^ "Former wife of Shipley MP is expecting baby". Keighley News. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  46. ^ Lee, Dulcie (18 May 2018). "Esther McVey's trip to the races shows why MPs' private lives are public". New Statesman. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  47. ^ "Philip Davies moves on from Esther McVey". Spectator Blogs. Retrieved 25 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Stephen Hesford
Member of Parliament
for Wirral West

Succeeded by
Margaret Greenwood
Preceded by
George Osborne
Member of Parliament
for Tatton

Political offices
Preceded by
Maria Miller
Undersecretary of State for Disabilities
Succeeded by
Mike Penning
as Minister of State for Disabilities
Preceded by
Mark Hoban
Minister of State for Employment
Succeeded by
Priti Patel
Preceded by
Julian Smith
Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of the Household
Preceded by
David Gauke
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
Amber Rudd