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David Cameron's dilemma over Maria Miller

Culture Secretary Maria Miller. Photo: Press Association

The Prime Minister has a problem with Maria Miller. On balance, his original decision to keep her on looked just about fair enough. It is hard to discern any sign of malevolence or fraud in a detailed reading of the report by MPs and perhaps the worst you can say is that her personal finances seemed chaotic (not that this will strike a chord with any of us) and that she seemed to have got inexplicably shirty with the people running the investigation.

And yes, it is true to note that the newspapers hate her and are still very angry about the Leveson reforms.

But given the fact that she had made a mistake and needed to pay some money back – and that her attitude left a lot to be desired and that she was surrounded by enemies in the media – a bit of skilful political footwork was required.

The Prime Minister and Maria Miller attend a summit at Downing Street. Credit: Press Association

Unfortunately, that thirty-two second apology was anything but skilful.

If one of our kids had delivered it to another, we would say: "Go back and say sorry like you mean it."

And that is why David Cameron has a problem. Even if his original decision was reasonable, Maria’s churlish apology is fast become symbolic of the things many members of the public most dislike about his party.

He has little choice but to keep her now and this will probably blow over, but her long-term career prospects are shot to pieces and that means she is taking up space that could be occupied by a woman with a brighter political future.

Like Esther McVey, for example, who conveniently happens to be on The Agenda at 10.35 pm tonight! So tune in to hear what she has to say on the matter.

In the meantime, my deputy Chris ship has an excellent summary of what is going on today.

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