Here’s Your Need To Know On Maria Miller’s Resignation

Expenses scandal put pressure on her to resign, or be told to resign by David Cameron...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Conservative MP Maria Miller, one of the very few women in the Cabinet, has resigned from her government posts over an expenses scandal. The news comes after pressure mounted for her to go or be pushed by leader David Cameron over the past week.

So what's actually happened? Who is she, what does she do and what did she do to get herself into so much trouble? Here's your need-to-know:

What was her job?

Maria was made Minister of Women and Equalities and Minister for Media, Culture and Sport in 2012. She was also MP for her constituency, Basingstoke, where she was voted in in 2005. These do sound like a lot of jobs, and they are, especially seeing as Maria was doing the big job of overseeing new legislation in the wake of the hacking trial.

The relatively new role for Women and Equalities Minister is always held in conjunction with another role. However, her predecessor, Labour's Harriet Harman, only concurrently held quite small roles, which didn't require too much of her attention to be divided. From the off, Maria had a lot on her plate.

Where did she stand politically?

The state-educated politician had a varied voting history - many groups complained when she became Women and Equalities Minister in 2012, as in 2008 she had voted for the abortion limit to go down to 20 weeks, and she also voted against a move to introduce regulations banning homophobic harassment and discrimination. However, she U-turned on this. Afer her 2012 appointment to the cabinet, she urged David Cameron to carry on with his quest to introduce gay marriage to the UK.

OK, so what did she do wrong?

She claimed expenses that weren't hers to claim, which is not only so 2008, but against the rules.* The Telegraph* found that she had used £90,000 of taxpayers' money to go towards a house in South London inhabited by her, her husband, her kids and her parents. That put her breach of rules introduced in 2010.

After an investigation, she said she 'fully' accepted a committee's recommendations to pay back some of the money (and at £5,800, it really was only some) and apologised 'unreservedly'. However, that wasn't enough. After over a week as front-page news – fyi people in her office claimed newspapers have something against Maria because she's the one heralding in new laws on press freedom – and other MPs from her own party, such as Norman Tebbit, calling for her resignation, the pressure finally got too much and she quit. It's worth noting that David Cameron was firmly on her side, though, saying that she had eventually done the right thing and had no reason to go: 'She paid back money. She made an apology and that's the right thing to do.'

How did she resign?

In a letter to David Cameron. Referencing her background, she said, 'I have been a member of the Conservative Party for more than 30 years. As a working mother, educated at a South Wales comprehensive school, I know that it is our party that understands the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they come from.'

She also spoke proudly of the work she has done in 'putting women front and centre of every aspect of the [Department of Media, Culture and Sport]'s work, putting in place the legislation to enable all couples to have the opportunity to marry regardless of their sexuality'.

Nodding to her tense relationship with the press, she said, '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.'

However, she hasn't stood down as an MP, and said she will continue to work to ensure 'the best future for the people of Basingstoke'. Thanking her family, she signed off just ahead of Prime Minister's Questions, where David Cameron would have no doubt got a right trouncing. Still, he's probably not in for the smoothest of mornings.

How many women in the Cabinet now?

Good question. Out of 22? Just three.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Getty

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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