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Briefing: Maria Miller’s marginal critics

8 April 2014

5:35 PM

8 April 2014

5:35 PM

Day five into the Maria Miller debacle and the calls for her resignation keep on coming. As Isabel reported earlier, more MPs are starting to break cover. Many of the critical Tories are speaking to the press anonymously, but some have been more vocal, especially the younger MPs who sit in marginal seats – who are more conscious of the slings and arrows of outraged voters. Here’s a breakdown of some MPs who have criticised Miller publicly and what their motivations might be:

Esther McVey

‘I can honestly say it wouldn’t be how I would have made an apology’

The Employment Minister is widely tipped for promotion in the near future. She’s one of the few Tories in a northern seat which brings with it a 2k majority and will undoubtedly face a challenge from Labour at the next election. No doubt she will be hoping she can make it to ministerial level before then.

Zac Goldsmith

’I am surprised Maria Miller hasn’t stepped down’

Goldsmith is one the more independently-minded Tory MPs. He’s vehemently fought for the power for the public to recall MPs but his efforts have yet to be rewarded. Miller is another example for his campaign. There are mutterings he will stand down in 2015, possibly to make way for Boris Johnson. The Lib Dems will certainly try to take back the seat they previously held since 1997.

Nicola Blackwood

‘I have to say if I was faced with the kind of questions that she is faced with, I would be really quite worried indeed’

Blackwood has the 11th most marginal seas in the country, with a slender 176 majority. She surprisingly took Oxford West and Abingdon from the Liberal Democrats in 2010, who held it since 1997. Although Blackwood doesn’t hold a ministerial position, she serves on the Home Affairs Select Committee and was described by the Guardian today as a ‘senior Tory’

Matthew Offord

‘But knocking on doors my constituency this weekend, people did raise the expenses issue with me and they believe that nothing has changed’

The MP for Hendon in North London has the 8th smallest majority in Parliament at 106. Although he was able to nab the seat off Labour with a 4 per cent swing, there is a significant chance Offord will be unable to hold onto it in 2015. It’s not surprising he’s concerned about what is said on the doorstep.

Mark Field

‘That public perception that is the most damaging. It lead to what many people regard as a unacceptably perfunctory apology from Maria Miller Thursday last’

No fan of the Prime Minister, Field sits in a comfortable safe seat — Cities of London and Westminster — with a 11k majority. But as he told the WATO today, Field sympathises with 2010 intake who were untainted by the expenses scandal and sit in marginals. Field may well be acting as a spokesman for the MPs who don’t want to publicly comment for career reasons.

Grant Shapps

‘Well look, I echo the words of the Prime Minister. Ultimately this is a matter for him and for Maria’

Although the Conservative party chairman has a 17k majority in Welwyn Hatfield, Shapps has concerns closer to home. Following the #BingoPoster debacle, he took a lot of flak as the first MP who tweeted it. Although some in the party have been briefing against him — the Sunday Mirror described him as a ‘dead man walking’ — Shapps said it’s ‘time to move on’ two days ago. He hasn’t said much since then either way, keeping away from the battle.

There are plenty more MPs worried about the implications of the Miller row, which has damaged the Tories straight after the Nick vs Nigel debates that left Ukip on a high. Many will be desperately hoping Miller makes it off the front pages soon, regardless of whether she remains in her job or not.

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