URE secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday survived a crunch House of Commons vote on his future by a narrow margin of 290 to 252, following a major operation by Conservative whips.
Labour had forced a vote on whether Hunt should be investigated for breaches of the ministerial code in relation to his handling of the BSkyB takeover.
But Nick Clegg’s decision to order Lib Dems to abstain on the issue meant Conservatives were forced to travel from all over the country to shore up support for their beleaguered colleague. Tory MP Justin Tomlinson even cut short his honeymoon in the Mauritius after being called to vote, thanking his “very understanding wife”.
During a fiery debate Labour MP Chris Bryant pushed parliamentary protocol to its limits by directly calling Hunt “a liar”, on the basis that it was the subject of the motion. But Hunt successfully rebuffed accusations he had purposely lied to parliament, calling the allegations “disgraceful”.
Earlier Labour leader Ed Miliband said the issue was “about the prime minister’s judgment, which is so badly flawed even his deputy won't support him”.