Today’s newspapers do not make happy reading for Maria Miller – or David Cameron. After informing the press that it was ‘time to draw a line’ under Miller’s expenses, he ought to have known what to expect. The Sunday Times splashes with ‘MPs can’t be trusted on expenses’ while the Sunday Telegraph quotes an anonymous minister saying ‘Maria must go’. The Mail on Sunday has commissioned some polling, to the effect that 80 per cent of the public want her out of the cabinet. According to the Survation polling, 82 per cent of Conservative voters want her to be sacked, while two thirds of Tories think she should resign from Parliament:
Senior Tories have been doing the broadcast rounds this morning to offer their opinions. Iain Duncan Smith backed more independent regulation of MPs on the Andrew Marr Show while defending the beleaguered minister ‘I am supportive of Maria because if we are not careful we end up with a witch-hunt of somebody’. In other words: yes, she’s bad and wrong but if we sack her now, the press will scent blood and come back for somebody else.
But do we hear ministers going wobbly? Tory chairman Grant Shapps failed four times to back Miller when asked by John Pienaar on Radio 5 Live. ‘Ultimately this is a matter for him and for Maria and the PM’ said Shapps.
The attacks are still coming in. Former Tory culture secretary David Mellor told Sky News ‘She won’t be missed if she goes and she won’t be noticed if she stays.’ On the Sunday Politics, an anonymous Conservative MP told the programme:
‘She handled this appallingly. Downing Street has acted like judge and jury. For Craig Oliver to get involved is disastrous. She’s been protected by the Whips from the start.
‘George Young is in cahoots as he used to be head of the standards committee. He’s been leaning on the committee to find her innocent. The standards committee is unfit for purpose’
Whether Miller hangs on to her job or not will come back (once again) to Alastair Campbell’s ten day rule — if you’re on the front pages of newspapers for 10 days, then you’ve had it. Tomorrow is day ten. And judging by day nine, things are not looking too good for her.