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This evening saw the resignation of Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton MP. Unlike her colleagues, Newton resigned as she was voting against the wishes of the government. This is known as collective responsibility.
Collective responsibility applies to all Ministers in government. It requires that they all vote as agreed at Cabinet. Should they not, they are expected to resign their position.
This evening saw the government in chaos after an amendment to their motion on a no-deal Brexit was past. Rather than cryptic wording Theresa May had proposed, the amendment stated that Parliament rejects ANY type of no-deal Brexit.
Following this unexpected defeat Prime Minister Theresa May had to instruct her MPs to vote against their own motion. It was indicated to Tory MPs, that this was a three line whip. This means that MPs are expected to vote as directed or resign any position in government.
Amongst the confusion, a junior whip told senior Ministers that they would be allowed to abstain and keep their positions.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Justice Secretary David Gauke abstained from the vote, as did energy minister Claire Perry, who also attends cabinet.
Rather than abstain, Sarah Newton chose to defy the whip and vote against the government. This resulted in her resigning her role as the Minister for Disabled People.
Outrage has broken out amongst Tory MPs calling for those who abstained to either resign or be sacked. They are angry that such senior ministers can flout long established rules to retain their well paid positions.
Newton Going Is No Reason To Rejoice
Whilst Sarah Newton may have done the honourable thing and resigned, this does not excuse her appalling record as The Minister for Disabled People.
On several occasions, Newton has shown an utter lack of knowledge regarding the difficulties disabled people face. Even when the evidence has shown her to be wrong, she has simply doubled down. However, this is the position all Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes.
With Newton’s exit all this does is leave a position for someone to come and fill. With the likes of Alok Sharma MP waiting in the wings, I would be more nervous of who will replace her.
Disabled people suffer daily at the hands of the DWP and very few, if any, Tory MPs speak out against that. Any MP who gets the position is unlikely to rock the boat.
So yes, Sarah Newton did do the honourable thing this evening but, it shouldn’t have taken her so long considering the suffering her department has shown to be inflicting on disabled people.
I happy she’s gone but, equally I worry what antichrist will be put in her place to continue to the attack on the sick and disabled in the UK.