Esther McVey has become yet another casualty of Brexit as she handed in her notice to the Prime Minister yesterday morning, stepping down from her position in parliament.

McVey was appointed to the position of Secretary for Work and Pensions in January, prompting the public to respond with a petition for her to be immediately removed from the position. Before taking up the mantle as head of the DWP, McVey had previously called the rise of food ban usage “positive,” and showed “the community has come together to support one another,” which MP Luciana Berger said “haunted” her, and “showed absolutely no empathy”. McVey would later claim there was no link between benefits cuts and food bank usage.

She also defended the cruel sanctions in the benefits system by comparing it to a teacher giving a pupil “lines or detentions,” as they “have your best interests at heart,” and claimed it would help people get into work. As a spokesperson for the replacing of DLA with PIP, she praised the shakeup, predicting hundreds of thousands of people would lose their benefits, including many bogus claimants, saying that people “come out of” illness and disability: “Thanks to medical advances, bodies heal.”

McVey spent her time as Secretary for Work and Pensions championing Universal Credit, despite its many critics and proven flaws. Stories surfaced often about McVey making charities sign gagging clauses which prevented them saying negative things about both herself and the system, which many – including Citizens Advice – said would leave disabled people hundreds of pounds worse off every single month.

Claimants like Julia Kelly, Linda Wootton, Mark Wood, and Elaine Morrall died from what their families believed to be a direct result of changes to their benefits under the various systems McVey championed, but the final straw for her was Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. In her resignation letter to the PM, she wrote that she “cannot defend” the deal, and would not be able to “look [her] constituents in the eye” if she were to vote for it.

McVey did, however, consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits, against raising welfare benefits in line with prices, against paying higher benefits to those with illness or disability, and was a firm supporter of the bedroom tax.

In what was perhaps her biggest embarrassment while in parliament, the National Audit Office was forced to publish an open letter to the MP, criticising her for making “misleading” statement in the Commons regarding Universal Credit, when she claimed among other things that a report written by the NAO said that Universal Credit was working – when in fact, this was “not proven.” Despite this resulting in calls for her resignation, it was Brexit that would push her over the edge to finally step down from the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.

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Image: Flickr/Gareth Milner

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