Culture secretary Maria Miller dramatically quit this morning after turning to her local newspaper in a last-ditch attempt to save her Cabinet job.
In her ‘How I See It’ column, the Basingstoke MP publicly apologised to the people in her constituency, saying: “I am devastated that this has happened, and that I have let you down.”
However the paper’s readers were unimpressed with more than 95pc of people who took part in a poll by the Newsquest-owned Gazette on Ms Miller’s future saying she should quit – and today she finally announced she was stepping down.
In a letter to the prime minister, she said the controversy “has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing.”
Her decision means a new man or woman will now be charged with taking forward the government’s highly controversial plans to regulate the press.
The MP wrote in her column: “The last 16 months have been difficult. As you know, I have been working hard for Basingstoke and also doing my job as a Cabinet minister.
“During this time, I have been subject to an intense Parliamentary inquiry looking at extensive personal details of my family life, as a result of allegations made by a Labour MP.
“That committee has now published its report and I have accepted their findings in full. I have unreservedly apologised for the way I handled and approached the inquiry.
“Separately, I have already apologised and repaid an over-claim of my expenses, having myself drawn the committee’s attention to the matter immediately I was aware of it.
“I have always sought to do the best job that I can in representing the people of Basingstoke in Westminster.
“I am devastated that this has happened, and that I have let you down. I can only hope that over time the focus will once again by on Basingstoke.”
However there was further controversy when a ministerial aide to Ms Miller, Tory Mp Mary Macleod, claimed there was a “media witch-hunt” against her because of her role in implementing press regulation after the Leveson Inquiry.
Ms Miller’s special adviser Jo Hindley has already faced criticism for ‘flagging up’ to journalists writing about her expenses that she was also overseeing press regulation.