An unlikely figure waded into the Conservative leadership race on Monday – ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly.
A clip of her went viral after she appeared to snub Esther McVey.
Good Morning Britain hosts Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid were doing their usual handover with Lorraine, where they ask her what’s coming up on her own show later that morning.
But on Monday, Lorraine’s insert came immediately after an interview the GMB presenting pair had just done with McVey, who was a co-host on the show’s forerunner GMTV in the late 1990s.
“Do you remember Esther McVey from her GMTV days?” Reid asked her.
Kelly curtly replied: “Yep. Yes I do. Right, coming up after half past eight…”
That set tongues wagging on social media, with many picking up on the fact that Kelly had implied she had nothing nice to say about her memories of working with McVey.
McVey was asked about her relationship with Kelly later in the day. “We used to share a dressing room,” she explained during a Q&A session at her campaign launch.
“And she used to be on the programme afterwards, and obviously she used to be partnered with Eamonn Holmes. And then I was promoted to be partnering with Eamonn Holmes.
“But she’s great and it was a great show, and I can’t believe it was 20 years ago, but never mind, it was really good at the time, really good fun.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Kelly played down rumours of the feud, telling Morgan and Reid: “There is no battle.”
But, she added that McVey’s recollection wasn’t entirely correct – because she and McVey worked on two different ITV morning programmes so one could not be promoted over the other.
“I’m baffled, because I had my own show since 1992, and I don’t actually think she joined until five years later,” Kelly explained.
Kelly herself went through a number of morning presenting roles for ITV – including GMTV With Lorraine (a separate programme which followed the main GMTV).
She also presented Top of the Morning, Quarter to Nine, Nine O’clock Live and Lorraine Live, all essentially iterations of the same programme.
In other words, for the last 25 years, Kelly has generally presented her own programme (which is today titled simply Lorraine) immediately after the main ITV breakfast show.
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“And as far as sharing dressing rooms go, it wasn’t really like that, it’s not palatial like it is now… it was just a little room that everybody sort of shared that we got ready in,” Kelly told Morgan and Reid.
“I’ll be genuinely honest, I don’t remember her being… it was such a long time ago. My show was totally separate from that show so there was no interaction to be honest.”
So what was Kelly’s apparent objection about? Rather than a TV presenting rivalry, it seems to be more about politics.
McVey has consistently voted against LGBT rights such as gay marriage, which was legalised under David Cameron’s coalition government in 2014.
“Yesterday, Piers, I’ll be honest with you, I just got sick to the back teeth of the whole toxic political atmosphere,” Kelly said.
“I strongly disagree with her on LGBT rights, I just thought, I’ve had enough of this, we’ve had two-and-a-half years of going round in circles and not sorting Brexit out, and now we’ve got a state in Britain where people are at each other’s thoughts, and it’s got to stop.”
On Monday, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg wrote: “Lorraine Kelly, one of the queens of the morning TV sofas, possibly gave the day’s most brutal slap down of any of the candidates.”
Who knew one of the cuddliest figures on morning television could have such influence in politics?