30/10/2003

Tory Chief Whip steps down

The Conservative Party's Chief Whip has stepped down in the aftermath of Iain Duncan Smith's failure to win last night's vote of confidence.

David Maclean, the opposition Chief Whip, whose job it is to drum up support in the Commons for Conservative policies, tendered his resignation in a letter addressed to Conservative MPs.

In the letter Mr Maclean the MP for Penrith said that he felt stepping down was the "honourable" thing to do.

He said: "In defending Iain’s leadership in recent weeks, I have had to take a higher public profile than is customary for Chief Whips. Now that we have a leadership election it is vital that the whole whips’ office is, and is seen to be, neutral and impartial.

"I cannot let my past commitment to the Leader give rise to any suggestion that The Office will not operate with the highest standards of neutrality and my departure will make that abundantly clear. It will also give the new Leader a completely free hand to appoint a new Chief Whip."

Deputy Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, will assume the responsibilities of Acting Chief Whip.

Although formerly campaign manager for David Davis during the 2001 leadership contest, Mr Maclean was subsequently appointed Conservative Party Chief Whip by Iain Duncan Smith.

(SP)

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