Fiona Phillips has claimed Esther McVey and Lorraine Kelly’s feud began when the MP wrongly claimed she had been promoted to present GMTV permanently.
The 55-year-old TV host told MailOnline today that ‘ambitious’ McVey claimed she had replaced her on the old ITV programme permanently – but was actually just covering maternity leave.
Phillips said: ‘Esther said that she had been promoted. But that is an absolute lie. She was only on there because she was covering my maternity leave.
‘During which I was asked several times by colleagues pleading to know when I was coming back. Esther was never presenting there permanently. She was at Channel Five I think at the time and she was jobbing, just trying to get work.
‘But I don’t know because I wasn’t there. She said she had been promoted. But she wasn’t even there to be promoted. You don’t embellish your CV.’
Phillips spoke after Kelly hit out at McVey in their continuing ‘feud’ today, rubbishing claims the MP was promoted above her and slamming her views on LGBT rights.
Kelly said she is ‘baffled’ by any suggestion McVey was chosen to host GMTV alongside Eamonn Holmes above her as she had her own show.
McVey was criticised last month when she said parents should be free to withdraw their child from lessons at school where they are taught about LGBT relationships.
Kelly disputed the Tory leadership hopeful’s claims their awkward TV exchange was down to her getting to co-host GMTV with Eamonn Holmes in the 1990s.
She said she cannot remember ever interacting with the politician because lots of people were put in the same dressing room – while she had a separate show.
When probed on why she appeared stone-faced on Good Morning Britain yesterday, she admitted being ‘sick to the back teeth of the toxic political atmosphere’ and strongly disagreeing with McVey on the issue of LGBT rights.
After GMB presenter Piers Morgan joked that the bad blood was all down to Kelly ‘losing a love battle with Eamonn Holmes’, Kelly set the record straight.
The daytime TV star shook her head and looked shocked as she watched a clip of the Tory leadership hopeful telling a press conference that the pair used to share a dressing room.
She said: ‘There is no battle! I’m baffled [by what McVey said]. I have had my own show since 1992 and I don’t think she joined until five years later.
‘As far as dressing rooms go… It was just a little room that everyone shared and we got ready in. It wasn’t a dressing room with couches – it wasn’t palatial at all.’
Prodding her further, Kelly said, exasperated: ‘I’ll be genuinely honest with you, I don’t remember, It was such a long time ago. I had my own show so there was no interaction.
‘Yesterday I just got sick to the back teeth of the whole toxic political atmosphere and I thought I’ve had enough of this. I strongly disagree with her on LGBT rights.
‘And they’ve been going round in circles on Brexit for two years and it’s got to stop.’
She added in a nod to the Scottish Conservative leader’s appearance on this morning’s GMB: ‘I’m really disappointed that Ruth Davidson is not standing. She’s one of the few human beings in politics right now.’
A source close to Kelly told The Times the tension between them is down to her voting record on same-sex marriage.
While McVey voted against it in parliament, Kelly has been branded an ‘honorary gay’ by Attitude Magazine and was given an award for her support of the LGBT community at their 2015 award ceremony.
Speaking at the press conference for her leadership launch, broadcast on ITV News yesterday, McVey said her promotion to flank Holmes on the show irked Kelly.
Asked by a reporter present: ‘What went down between you and Lorraine?’ the 51-year-old answered with a laugh: ‘Well we used to share a dressing room.
‘She used to be the programme afterwards, and obviously she used to be partnered with Eamonn Holmes, then I was promoted to be partnering with Eamonn Holmes.’
She added: ‘But, she’s great and it was a great show, and I can’t believe it, I think it was 20 years ago I did that show, but never mind, it was really good at the time, it was really good fun.’
The now Tory MP co-hosted the show while Phillips was on maternity leave in 1999.
The comments come after the pair’s awkward encounter on Good Morning Britain yesterday when Kelly appeared to snub her former colleague.
McVey was grilled by GMB hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on her party’s recent drug confessions, Brexit, abortion rights and much more when she went on the show this morning.
After the interview GMB cut live to the Lorraine studio where Piers asked host Kelly whether she remembered McVey from the days they both worked at ITV.
Kelly gave a short ‘Yep. Yes I do,’ before quickly launching into a plug for her show.
But presenter Morgan decided to probe further, asking: ‘So you got on with Esther then Lorraine’, to which she replied: ‘I don’t remember, I don’t remember, I don’t remember at all. It was a long time ago.’
There was an awkward laugh in both studios before Morgan added: ‘Ooh if looks could kill.’
McVey worked as a TV host for several years before she got into politics, including a year-long stint as a co-presenter on GMTV.
Kelly helped launch the show in 1993 and had her own spot before she got her own programmes Lorraine, Live, LK Today and Lorraine.
The pair never presented together. McVey served as maternity cover for regular host Philips and worked alongside Kelly on the show.
Viewers quickly took to social media to comment on the awkward exchange and apparent ‘beef’ between the ex-colleagues.
One person branded it ‘the most brutal thing I’ve ever witnessed’, while another said Kelly ‘clearly isn’t a fan’ of the former work and pensions secretary.
McVey made no mention of the encounter on Twitter after the show, posting only to confirm she had submitted her nomination for the Conservative Party leadership race.
It was McVey’s second snub of the day. She also had her ‘Scouse privileges’ revoked by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson.
The Labour Mayor has written to all Tory MPs asking them not to back the former Work and Pensions Secretary.
He tweeted a mock up of Ms Mcvey’s ‘Scouse privileges’ card – with a large ‘revoked’ stamp across it.
‘Tory austerity has had a terrible effect on Liverpool. This city stands for community, fairness & justice. At DWP & as Tory Party Leader hopeful, Ester McVey’s record flies in face of that proud tradition. Scousers don’t do that to Scousers,’ he said.
Kelly, 59, dodged a huge tax bill earlier this year when a judge ruled she works on a freelance basis for ITV because her ‘Lorraine persona’ is just a front.
In 2016 HM Revenue and Customs presented her with an income tax bill for almost £900,000, plus national insurance contributions of over £300,000.
But she argued national insurance shouldn’t have been deducted from her income under the PAYE system.
She said she had been ‘freelance’ since 1992 and had since then worked for the BBC, Channel 4, Scottish TV, Sky and ITV, also writing weekly columns for the Sun newspaper.
MailOnline has contacted McVey’s spokesman for comment on the claims by Phillips.