A BBC QUESTION Time audience erupted into laughter as Esther McVey defended the role of minister for common sense on Thursday night.

The evening’s episode panel, filmed in Doncaster, included presenter Andrew Neil, LibDem MP Layla Moran, minister for common sense McVey, Labour MP Steve Reed and comedian Zoe Lyons.

Jokes about McVey’s supposed informal role have been made since her appointment as a Cabinet Office minister without portfolio in Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle in November.

One Doncaster audience member asked: “I just wonder if it tells us something that the Tory party needs a minster for common sense?”

This was met with laughter as presenter Fiona Bruce asked, “What is a minister for common sense, Esther?”

McVey seemed prepared to defend her role, immediately stating: “Well, you will have read the reports like me, it seemed that in the media I was dubbed a minster for common sense, but you will of course know Fiona what my role is.

“It’s a minister in the cabinet office known as without portfolio, which means that you work across portfolio. It’s about scrutiny, it’s about oversight, making sure there is delivery for money."

Bruce questioned if the “whole common sense thing” was an inaccurate label.

McVey said: “Actually I think its just a popular term. Here’s what I guess Rishi, the Prime Minister, has done for common sense – people would have said, ‘delay the ban in the purchasing of diesel and petrol cars, these net zero targets are not practical enough’."

Bruce interrupted to point out that is what the Prime Minster has done, however McVey argued back stating: “Exactly - we’re building up on that as there is more to do.”

The audience did not seem convinced as McVey said scrapping HS2 was a “bow to common sense”.

When asked if the rest of the Cabinet did not have “enough” common sense and that is the reason for the appointment, the audience erupted into laughter and applauded as did other on the panel whilst McVey said: “They do have common sense absolutely”, to which Bruce said: “Just not quite enough?”.

McVey carried on defending the role through audience giggles, highlighting the media as the ones who have dubbed the role minister for common sense.

Lyons said she understood how the roles title could be quite “irksome” as it made her imagine McVey’s office “beside the minster of funny walks”.