Esther McVey: I'd run for Tory leadership if asked

Posted On: 
9th December 2018

Esther McVey has refused to rule out running for leadership of the Conservative Party if Theresa May is ousted over Brexit.

Ms McVey also hit back at claims she had cried during a crunch Cabinet meeting on Brexit.
Credit: 
Sky News

The former work and pensions secretary - who quit the Cabinet in opposition to the Prime Minister's Brexit deal with the EU - said she would give the top Tory job "serious consideration" if asked by colleagues.

Asked by Sky News's Sophy Ridge if she would consider running, Ms McVey said: "At the moment I am looking for a person who can unite the party behind a Brexit deal, a person who believes in Brexit, who's got, really, the full passion to deliver that."

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But she added: "If people asked me then, of course, you'd give it serious concern and do it - if people asked me."

The comments came as the Tory backbencher pushed back at claims she had cried in a crunch Cabinet meeting hours before her dramatic exit from the Government.

Cabinet sources had previously told the media that Ms McVey had had an "extraordinary meltdown" in the summit of top ministers. 

"I thought security would have to be called, because she seemed so hysterical and aggressive," one told the Mail on Sunday last month.

But Ms McVey flatly denied bursting into tears as had been briefed, and said she had instead been "passionate" in demanding a full Cabinet vote on the Prime Minister's deal.

Asked if she had cried, she said: "No."

Ms McVey added: "It was obviously briefed to the papers afterwards and obviously maybe they thought that would see me in a negative light.

"But people who know me know that I'm forthright, I am feisty, I am straight-talking. 

"And quite rightly, I am passionate about this issue. But all we needed to know was, what did people think?"

She said: "The meltdown was from the others not wanting to put their name next to a vote. It certainly wasn't from me asking for one."

The ex-Cabinet minister's comments came amid reports that Mrs May could be preparing to head back to Brussels to demand changes to her deal in a last-ditch bid to swing sceptical MPs behind the agreement.

Despite hinting at her own leadership ambitions, Ms McVey said she would get "fully behind" the Prime Minister if she succeeded in securing concessions from the EU.

"I stood down from the Government because I didn't have confidence in what it was doing," she said.

"So I've done that because I didn't have confidence in where it was going and what it was doing. 

"However, if the Prime Minister goes back to the EU like she's saying now and gets a better deal - something she was not prepared to do when I asked her in Cabinet - if she is then I am fully behind her if she can get a better deal."