Esther McVey

Esther McVey


  • Law degree, Queen Mary, University of London. [1] 
  • Course in radio journalism, City, University of London. [1]
  • MSc, Corporate Governance, Liverpool John Moores University. [2]


Esther McVey has been a Conservative MP since 2010, first representing the Wirral West constituency and subsequently Tatton. After losing her seat in 2015, McVey served as Chair of the British Transport Police Authority for two years before being re-elected to parliament. [3], [2], [4]

McVey was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions between January and November 2018, resigning in opposition to then Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. She was also Housing Minister in the UK government from July 2019 to February 2020, when she lost the role in a cabinet reshuffle. Other government roles include Work and Pensions Minister and Deputy Chief Whip. [5], [6] [16]

She stood in the Conservative Party leadership contest in June 2019, coming last. [7]

McVey has caused controversy over the years with her comments on the welfare system, defending the “bedroom tax” introduced by David Cameron’s government and describing the rise of “foodbanks” since the financial crisis as “positive”. [1] 

During this time, McVey was forced to apologise to parliament for misleading MPs about an official report on the “universal credit” system of benefits. She had claimed that the report recommended the system be rolled out more quickly when in fact it said it should be paused. [8]

McVey has been a supporter of the Conservative Way Forward pressure group, founded by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. [9]

Before becoming an MP, McVey worked as a broadcaster and journalist, beginning her career as a graduate trainee at the BBC and later co-presenting the GMTV breakfast show. [2], [10]

In December 2021, Civil Service World reported that McVey had broken anti-lobbying rules when she joined GB News as a presenter in June 2021, because she had taken the job without applying for the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA)’s go-ahead. ACOBA chair Eric Pickles wrote to Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay about the issue, saying that “the ministerial code is clear that an application is needed for all outside roles”. McVey had said that she did not think she needed to contact the committee when she first joined GB News as a contributor. [17]

McVey is married to fellow Conservative MP Philip Davies, one of only five MPs to have voted against the UK‘s Climate Change Act in 2008. [11]

Stance on Climate Change

June 10, 2019

During the Conservative leadership contest, McVey refused to back a 2050 “net zero” emissions target for the UK, saying: [12]

“If you want to guarantee failure, get politicians to set a target.

“Preserving our natural environment is vital for the legacy we leave future generations and we must take action to combat climate change.”

“We should recognise that it’s often working people in traditional industries who are expected to pay the price. Climate change affects us all, but this is a hard message to land with someone who has lost their job. It is also true that many of the measures proposed by more wealthy environmental activists would result in rising costs for working families.” [12]

Key Quotes

April 21, 2019

McVey praised the UK‘s reduction in emissions, as measured by consumption, tweeting: [14]

Fascinating graph – worth 15 seconds of anyone’s time to watch UK’s performance and reduction in CO2 emissions #Working4Change” [14]

Key Deeds

June 10, 2019

McVey gave an interview to the ConservativeHome website, in which she argued against strengthening the UK‘s emissions target to “net zero” by 2050, up from the then 80% goal. [12]

June 2019

McVey stood in the Conservative Party leadership contest, coming last. [13]


Social Media



  1. Emilia Bona, Liam Thorp. “Who is Esther McVey? Why is she so controversial?Liverpool Echo, May 30, 2019. Archived August 29, 2019. URL:
  2. The Rt Hon Esther McVey MP,” Archived August 29, 2019. URL:
  3. Mat Hope, Richard Collett-White. “Is Boris Johnson’s Cabinet the Most Anti-Climate Action Ever?DeSmog, July 25, 2019.
  4. New Chair of the British Transport Police Authority announced,”, November 19, 2015. Archived August 29, 2019. URL:
  5. Tom Herbert. “Esther McVey’s savage resignation letter in full: It’s obvious to everyone Brexit deal doesn’t honour referendum,” Evening Standard, November 15, 2018. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  6. Rt Hon Esther McVey MP,” Parliament.ukArchived August 29, 2019. URL
  7. Heather Stewart, Peter Walker. “Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey out of race to be Tory leader,” Guardian, June 13, 2019. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  8. Patrick Butler. “Universal credit row: why is Esther McVey facing calls to resign?Guardian, July 5, 2018. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  9. Christopher Hope. “Pen portraits of the 10 Conservative women ministers who were promoted in the reshuffle,” Telegraph, July 15, 2014. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  10. Alex Finnis. “Fiona Phillips says Esther McVey is telling ‘absolute lies’ about Lorraine Kelly,” iNews, June 12, 2019. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  11. Brendan Carlin and Harry Howard. “Old, new, borrowed and true blue: Former Cabinet Minister and TV presenter Esther McVey marries fellow Tory MP Philip Davies in Westminster ceremony,” Daily Mail, September 19, 2020. Archived September 23, 2020. URL
  12. Mark Wallace. “Esther McVey answers ConservativeHome readers’ questions,” ConservativeHome, June 10, 2019. Archived August 31, 2019. URL
  13. Heather Stewart, Peter Walker. “Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey out of race to be Tory leader,” Guardian, June 13, 2019. Archived August 29, 2019. URL
  14. Fascinating graph – worth 15seconds of anyone’s time to watch UK’s performance and reduction in CO2 emissions #Working4Change,” Tweet by @EstherMcVey1, April 21, 2019. Retrieved from Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  15. Esther McVey. ”Brexit will allow us to focus our trading energy on emerging global economic powerhouses,” Brexit Central, March 4, 2019. Archived August 31, 2019. URL
  16. Sarah Williams. “Esther McVey loses housing minister position in cabinet reshuffle,” Social Housing, February 13, 2020. Archived February 25, 2022. Archive URL:
  17. Beckie Smith. “McVey broke rules over GB News job, Cabinet Office told,” Civil Service World, December 2, 2021. Archived February 24, 2022. Archive URL:

Other Resources

Photo credit: Number 10/Flickr/CC BYNCND 2.0

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