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If Esther McVey’s getting away with it, things must be really bad

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12.07.2018

There are times so close to being ridiculous that only a cliche will do, so forgive me: a week really is a long time in politics.

Last Wednesday Esther McVey went in front of the work and pensions select committee to answer questions about universal credit, among other areas. Barely a week ago, the secretary of work and pensions was facing calls to resign amid claims she had grossly misled parliament. And yet as the government patches itself up after the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson, McVey’s position seems surer than ever.

The irony of her current brazen predicament can hardly be lost on most jobseekers. If someone on universal credit made an error – no matter how slight or unintentional – they would be hauled in front of an official, and promptly have their benefits sanctioned. If a cabinet member gives false information to parliament – of significant proportion and even knowingly – they can get away with it with barely a slapped wrist.

There’s a worry that the sheer scale of Theresa May’s Brexit disaster, coupled with the depth of her cabinet infighting, means McVey’s actions are already the political equivalent of tomorrow’s chip paper. These are, after all, not typical times.

In any other government, Johnson would not have been allowed the dignity of resignation: he’d have been sacked months ago. At any other point, McVey’s actions would, at a minimum, lead a prime........

© The Guardian