The culture secretary has refused to confirm whether Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, is planning to resign, amid speculation that she is considering her position.
Jeremy Wright repeatedly dodged questions about Crouch’s job from MPs in the House of Commons this morning during an urgent questions session on the issue of fixed-odds betting terminals.
In the Budget earlier this week, the government announced a six-month delay to the implementation of changes, led by Crouch, that would reduce the amount people could bet on fixed-odds betting terminal machines from £100 to £2.
This morning the The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Crouch, the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, was "understood to be furious" about the measure being pushed back from April 2019 to next October and was considering resigning.
Crouch has been the sports minister since 2015. Responsibility for civil society was added to her brief in June last year after the previous charities minister, Rob Wilson, lost his Reading East seat in the general election.
She did not appear at the urgent questions session this morning, despite the fact that the issue falls under her remit as sports minister.
She had, however, returned from a ministerial trip to the US only this morning and Wright said it would have been unwise to rely on public transport or London traffic to ensure she was in parliament on time.
When asked by the deputy Labour leader Tom Watson whether Crouch had resigned, Wright said: "I think that my honourable friend the MP for Chatham and Aylesford is doing an outstanding job as Minister for Sport and Civil Society."
He said Watson was right to say Crouch "deserves a large part of the credit" for the decision to reduce the maximum bets.
But he said that, as secretary of state, he took responsibility for policy in the department and the government had made the decision collectively, which was why he, not Crouch, was answering the urgent question.
Later in the debate, Nick Smith, the Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, asked whether Crouch had threatened to resign. Wright again responded by saying that Crouch was doing "a great job" but the decision on the issue had been taken collectively by government.
Clive Efford, the Labour MP for Eltham, described Crouch as "a very principled person" and said he would not be surprised if she resigned over the issue.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on whether Crouch had resigned.
A spokeswoman for Crouch’s parliamentary office said she was unable to comment and had not heard from Crouch today.
Crouch did not respond to a request for comment before Third Sector’s deadline.