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. 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. 
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
McVey, of Irish Catholic descent, was born in Liverpool. She spent the first two years of her life in foster care as a Barnardo's child. 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
From 2000 to 2006, McVey was a director of her family's Liverpool-based construction business J. G. McVey & Co. (run by her father) which specialised in demolition and site clearance, land reclamation and regeneration. In 2003, the firm received two immediate prohibition safety notices with which the company complied.
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.
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, BBC1's science entertainment series How Do They Do That?, 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. 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.
McVey returned to Liverpool and set up her own business, Making It (UK) Ltd, 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", supported by funding from the North West Regional Development Agency.
A supporter of Conservative Way Forward, 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.
Member of Parliament for Wirral West
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). In 2010, McVey was Parliamentary Private Secretary to then-Employment Minister Chris Grayling. From 2012 to 2013, she was Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Work and Pensions, working under Iain Duncan Smith.
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.
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?'" The Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps called for Labour to withdraw the whip from McDonnell. The official Labour Party Twitter feed said McDonnell's comments "don't represent the views of the Labour Party. He speaks for himself". 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".
Out of parliament (2015–17)
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.
Member of Parliament for Tatton
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. 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. 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."
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. She apologised to the House of Commons on 4 July 2018 amid calls for her resignation. 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."
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." 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."
McVey lives in West Kirby, Wirral. McVey has previously been in a relationship with BBC producer Mal Young, as well as former Conservative frontbencher Ed Vaizey. When in London, she formerly shared a flat in Pimlico with Conservative colleague, Philip Davies, with whom she has had a "long time on-and-off romantic interest". They were reported to be partners in July 2018. The house-sharing arrangement ended when McVey lost her seat at the 2015 general election.
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- Debrett's People of Today
- Esther McVey MP official blog
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
for Wirral West
| Member of Parliament
| Undersecretary of State for Disabilities
as Minister of State for Disabilities
| Minister of State for Employment
| Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Commons
| Treasurer of the Household|
| Secretary of State for Work and Pensions