Wales politics

Jenny Willott quits UK coalition government

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Media captionJenny Willott says she wants to 'speak out' for her constituents

Cardiff Central Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott has resigned as an assistant government whip.

Ms Willott is leaving the coalition government with fellow Lib Dems Norman Baker and Mark Hunter.

Mr Baker quit as a Home Office minister on Monday, saying he faced a "constant battle" working with Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he respected the three MPs' decisions to concentrate on their constituencies.

The Lib Dem leader said: "I completely understand and respect the decisions that Norman, Mark and Jenny have taken to stand down from their ministerial positions to concentrate on their roles as constituency MPs.

"They have all been outstanding ministers and made an enormous contribution to the success of the coalition government."

"The Liberal Democrats are extremely fortunate to have a large number of talented people on our benches ready to step into their shoes," added Mr Clegg.

Tuition fees

Ms Willott, MP for Cardiff Central since 2005, was appointed as an aide to the then Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne following the 2010 election.

She quit the post later that year in order to vote against the government on student tuition fees.

In February 2012 Ms Willott was appointed an assistant whip, later serving as consumer affairs and equalities minister while her colleague Jo Swinson was on maternity leave.

In her resignation letter to Mr Clegg, Ms Willott said he was doing an excellent job as deputy prime minister and party leader.

In his reply, Mr Clegg said he understood Ms Willott's desire to resign from the whips' office in order to "speak in parliament and focus on your constituency".

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said he was "sorry" to see the Cardiff Central MP leave the government.

He said on Twitter that she was a "very effective minister and whip" and that he "enjoyed" working with her.

However, Jo Stevens, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Cardiff Central, said Ms Willott's resignation was a "shameful admission" she had "neglected" her constituency.

She said: "It is completely arrogant of the Lib Dems to think that having delivered the bedroom tax, given a £100,000 tax cut to millionaires and trebled tuition fees that people will conveniently forget what they have done."

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