Fiona Phillips says Esther McVey ‘lashed out’ when her cover was blown at GMTV

Oh dear. Who’d have thought a harmless interview with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Monday’s Good Morning Britain would have unleashed a storm which helped Tory leadership candidate Esther McVey come last in the first round of their leadership race on Thursday?

It all began, you might recall, when Susanna, in an interchange with Lorraine Kelly , asked for her memories of Esther during the Tory MP’s short stint co-anchoring GMTV during my first maternity leave.

Lorraine looked a bit out-of-character awkward; her face changing from customarily smiley to slightly thunderous and not at all amused.

Lorraine and I shared a small, dingy dressing room for years, although we weren’t very often in it together. She presented her programme after my couple of hours on the famous red sofa, alongside Eamonn Holmes.

Esther wasn’t involved in the breakfast programme at all until she was plucked from Channel 5 to cover my maternity leave for three months in the spring of 1999.

End of. So imagine my surprise – and, no doubt, Lorraine’s – when I heard her say that she’d been “promoted” to stand in for me.

Surely you have to have a job at a company in the first place to be promoted? Clearly she wanted to create the impression of someone who was SO talented that bosses simply had to elevate her.

Hopefully Esther has learned a valuable lesson: you can’t be economical with the truth, especially if you once worked with journalists and you were hoping to progress in the race for the Tory leadership.

Flustered by having her cover blown, Esther lashed out, saying she reckons her short stint at GMTV wasn’t ever repeated because most of the staff, including myself, Gloria DePiero (now a Labour MP) and Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway, were Marxists! Ha!

We’d apparently formed a Labour cabal, which is why she wasn’t welcome.

I was on maternity leave, you’ll remember, with little spare time on my hands, let alone enough to form a lefty confederacy. And the Blair government was in power, hardly a cabinet full of communist revolutionaries!

Marx did utter many a handy, insightful quote though, one of them being: “Men make their own history.”

And so do women, it seems, if Esther’s version of her CV is anything to go by.

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