Reports emerged on Wednesday claiming Conservatives’ chief whip Wendy Morton and her deputy, Craig Whittaker, had resigned following a vote on a Labour motion on fracking. The Government confirmed overnight both Ms Morton and Mr Whittaker remained in post but Kay Burley asked for clarification on the astonishing scenes unravelling in the Commons ahead and after the vote. The Sky News presenter asked: “Did the chief whip resign last night?”
Ms Trevelyan explained: “You’ve just answered your own question there. You’ve just reassured everyone that Wendy Morton and, indeed, Craig Whittaker, her deputy are still in post which is good news.”
The Sky News presenter insisted: “That wasn’t my question. Didn’t ask you that – did she resign last night?”
The Transport Secretary said she was not aware of any resignation from either Ms Morton or Mr Whittaker.
The response had Ms Burley push once more on the issue: “So she didn’t resign at any stage and then was convinced to be back in post?”
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Ms Trevelyan replied: “So, I wasn’t there. I voted early in the lobbies and then had important security issues to deal with at the Department for Transport so I didn’t follow the machinations in detail.
“I’m afraid I was busy doing my job but, as it’s clear, they’re both in post and that’s good news.”
Ms Burley then proceeded to challenge the Conservative frontbencher on reports from Labour MP Chris Bryant claiming some Tory MPs had been pushed into the lobby to vote in line with the Government.
She said: “Is it appropriate that MPs are manhandled?”
The Transport chief said: “As I said, I wasn’t there.”
Ms Burley cut her off: “Not the point. Ms Trevelyan, it’s going to be much easier if you answer the question.”
The interruption prompted Ms Trevalyan to hit back: “If you let me answer the question, Kay, I will.”
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Labour’s motion, which the Government said would be seen as a vote of confidence in Liz Truss, was defeated by 230 votes to 326, majority 96, but the Commons heard there were “very strong rumours” the Government chief whip Wendy Morton had resigned.
The division list showed more than 30 Conservative MPs had no vote recorded although this does not automatically equate to an abstention.
Reports from the Commons on Wednesday had claimed Ms Morton had resigned ahead of the vote over suggestions the fracking vote would no longer count as a vote of confidence.
Before the vote, she was claimed to have walked into the corridor shouting “I’m no longer the chief whip.”
Isabel Hardman, from The Spectator, later reported Craig Whittaker had exited the lobby and said: “I am f****ng furious and I don’t give a f**k anymore.”
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Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting said the Prime Minister has “probably got hours left, if not days”, and said he would be surprised if she has weeks left in Number 10.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the question for Conservative MPs actually is how much longer are you going to subject the country to this?
“Because let’s be honest, Liz Truss has probably got hours left, if not days. I’d be surprised if it’s weeks. And then what happens?
“We get another Conservative Prime Minister and people are meant to believe that after 12 years the arsonists who started the fire in the first place are going to suddenly become the firefighters? I don’t think so.
“They don’t have the ideas. They don’t have the team. They don’t have the plan. And they don’t have the right to expect the support of the British people.”