Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Culture, media and sport Secretary of State Maria Miller - whose stuffed portfolio included overseeing the rollout of faster broadband networks to country bumpkins - has finally quit her Cabinet post over an expenses row.
Miller handed in her resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron this morning - just hours before he faces PMQs in Parliament at midday today.
She said in her missive to the PM:
I am very grateful to you for your personal support but it has become clear to me that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this Government is doing to turn our country around.
But critics, both outside and within the Tory party, have attacked Cameron for failing to act sooner by sacking Miller, who had been ordered to pay £5,800 of the expenses she had claimed.
The amount of money the minister was said to have wrongly siphoned from the taxpayer was understood to be higher. Previously, it had been advised by the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards that Miller pay back £45,000 in expenses.
MPs on the Commons' Committee rejected the higher figure, however, and settled on agreeing to Miller repaying just £5,800, much to the chagrin of many within Westminster.
Since then, calls for the Cabinet minister to resign have overshadowed the government, which comes to the end of its term next year. The PM has also been criticised for his botched handling of the entire affair.
Female Cabinet ministers fell by a quarter with the exit of Miller this morning. Now, Cameron has to make a snap judgment about who will replace the Conservative MP for Basingstoke at the Ministry of Fun.
Tory politico Esther McVey, who is currently the government's employment minister, is a favourite to replace Miller. Conservative MP Liz Truss is also said to be a potential candidate for the job, if - that is - the PM is keen to maintain his Wimmin-in-Cabinet quota.
The £1.2bn, delayed, BT-only Broadband Delivery UK project will be one of the tasks Miller's replacement will be saddled with. ®