Esther McVey

Common sense minister praises Rishi Sunak as ‘intellectual giant’

Esther McVey has defended prime minister Rishi Sunak as an “intellectual giant” in response to a question doubting the policy-making process of the government. 

Speaking on Monday morning at a Centre for Policy Studies event, the so-called common sense minister described the “fightback” she is leading in Whitehall. 

McVey, officially a minister without portfolio, said she was on a mission to “save the country from a socialist nightmare”.

She suggested that voters were “relieved common sense is back on the public policy agenda”.

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Claiming a “concerted effort” has been made by “politically-correct woke warriors” to infiltrate British institutions, she added: “These [individuals] did not stand for election on these views because if they had they would not have won.

“So instead some have got themselves in academia and the civil service, local government, charities and arms-length bodies and we need to make a similarly concerted effort to ensure they cannot use their positions in these public bodies to hijack them to impose their own political ideology.”

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Following her address, McVey went on to answer questions from the room, including from an individual who expressed his regret at the lack of “intellectual giants” in government. 

McVey was asked: “50 years ago, the [Margaret] Thatcher revolution was driven by intellectual giants. … Where are these intellectual giants now within the Conservative Party?”

“What I see is a lot of shallowness. And, I’m sorry to say this, one of the examples is GB News. We don’t want policies to be driven by those kinds of people. We want serious people — giants. I don’t see any evidence of that”.

McVey, who hosted a show on GB News before taking up her post as common sense minister, retorted that “Rishi Sunak is an intellectual giant, absolutely”.

She said: “I know you’re shaking your head, but I would say absolutely he is. And he’s giving it sort of rigour and intellectual rigour in what he’s delivering. What I would say, because I think it’s wrong to say in a different era, everybody was a much of a higher calibre than they are now, I don’t agree with that.

“But what I will say, I think the difficulty of social media and the barracking and the haranguing politicians get, sometimes it cowers them from what they would ordinarily have done”.

McVey added: “So actually, I think if anything … that has dimmed their brilliance. It’s not that their brilliance isn’t there”. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our free daily newsletter here.