'Crossed a line' - Wendy Morton discusses alleged abuse she received as Chief Whip
Wendy Morton was in post on the infamous night a House of Commons vote on fracking descended into farce - the moment many say effectively Liz Truss’ premiership ended
THE former Chief Whip has reacted to claims she was branded “Wendy Moron” during her time in Government.
Wendy Morton was in post on the infamous night a House of Commons vote on fracking descended into farce - the moment many say effectively Liz Truss’ premiership ended.
Speaking to GB News, Ms Morton said the alleged abuse she suffered “crossed a line” - and that Parliament needed to be a "better" place to work.
Admitting to having a "few scars on her back" she also commented on the texts she reportedly exchanged with Gavin Williamson that are subject to an ongoing probe.
Talking exclusively to GB News the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills reflected on when she knew the game was up for Ms Truss.
“A lot of people have asked me that,” she told Gloria De Piero. “I think from the beginning it was tough. I think the party conference was always going to be tough, but actually she got through that really well. By the time we got to the night of the fracking vote - it was obvious things were very difficult. But it wasn’t just that. The budget had been difficult. It was a whole host of things. It just became increasingly difficult.”
In the days after Ms Morton left her post, it was claimed Liz Truss had openly told others she “hated” her. Claims also emerged that she’d been branded “Helen Moron” by others inside Number 10.
“I was quite staggered when I read that," Ms Morton said. "I’ve been in politics long enough to know that you don't always believe everything that you read, but it's still quite hurtful. That said I do get on with Liz. I bumped into her last week in the Commons. We've had coffee together. It was a very, very tense period. It's fair to say the relationship between No. 10 in general and me, or No. 12 as it was, was difficult at times. But when you get told that people call you ‘Wendy Moron’ rather than Wendy Morton and other phrases…
“I heard directly from colleagues who were saying that's what they'd heard me being called. They didn't say where it was from. And there were other things too. But you have to get on with the job and that's what I would always try to do.”
On the impact of the alleged abuse on her she continued: “Sometimes it's the people that are closest to you that feel it worse. It's family. You have to say, ‘Dad, don't put the TV on. I'm in the news a bit’. But the question is how much of it is acceptable and how much of it is not.”
Asked whether she felt the alleged abuse directed at her had “crossed a line” she said: “Having been in politics, you just get used to it, but it's not right. And does it cross a line? Sometimes it probably does. At the end of the day, we should be in a position where you can have heated debate but you can walk out of that Chamber and you are able to have respect for one another.”
About a week into her role as Chief Whip, Ms Morton was the recipient of an alleged abusive text from Sir Gavin Williamson over his exclusion from the guest list of the Queen's funeral.
According to reports, Ms Morton later replied telling the former Education Secretary “I need no lecture from you, Gavin, when I ask a civil question’.
Speaking about the row she said: “Obviously because there is an investigation ongoing, I can't comment. I would just hope that the investigation follows the due process and hopefully sooner rather than later we get a conclusion.”
On whether she would change anything about her time as Chief Whip she said: “Like many Chief Whips I’ve got a few scars on my back. Being Chief Whip I guess is always tough. But do you know what, I wouldn’t change it. I feel deeply honoured and privileged to have had that position for the short time that I did. And, you know, Liz did some good stuff in that short period of time. It’s very easy to say what went wrong, but actually the work she did around energy prices, because she knew some tough decisions had to be made, were important.
“I didn't lose a single vote when I was Chief Whip. There are probably few Chief Whips who can say that. But there's much more to it than that, there is party discipline, there are difficult conversations that have to be had. And yes, sometimes people do get angry in the heat of the moment. We probably all do. But I still come back to the point that there are, in my view, certain red lines."
On whether changes needed to be made in Parliament to improve the culture she added: “I think it will always be a challenging place, but I think we have to make it a better place. We have to find a way of raising standards, and raising expectations. They're looking at some issues around working relationships between staff and MPs. I think that's important. I think we're all responsible for our own behaviour. Treat people in the way that you would expect to be treated.”
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