Theresa May under pressure to make big shake-up as cabinet reshuffle continues

12 January, 2018, 15:21 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Where budgets are at breaking point and recruitment is still a massive challenge education does not need more upheaval

Mr Lidington, a former justice secretary, assumed the title Cabinet Office Minister but not first secretary of state, which remained vacant.

Shortly after confirming Greening's departure, Downing Street officially announced she would be replaced by Damian Hinds, who had been serving as employment minister. May was said to be "disappointed" at losing Greening, who opposed Brexit, and could now vote with pro-European Union rebels in the House of Commons. There were echoes of her botched decision to call an election in her announcement of a reshuffle she didn't have to carry out.

Her sacking seems to be harsh in the extreme.

If so, the Prime Minister will find it hard to reconcile promoting more women to Cabinet with finding enough women to promote, at least from high-ranking levels within the Government.

Even before this the whole event started in the most freaky fashion when a seemingly befuddled Tory staffer accidently announced Chris Grayling as the new party chairman even though Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis had always been tipped - in this paper and others - as being in line for the job.

"That also includes delivering a Government that better reflects the country which it serves". A new mutineer, the seasoned political commentator speculated.

"She can't have the government she would choose and has to select from a small group of people", said Matt Beech, director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull.

But one backbencher summed up the mood of the party, telling the Times: "Everyone went away for Christmas and because of the Brexit deal forgot that the operation around the PM is sh*t".

Former justice secretary David Lidington was appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office, but was not awarded the title of First Secretary of State enjoyed by his predecessor Damian Green. Primarily, it has shown May's declining influence over her ministers.

Transport Secretary Mr Grayling was kept on at his department despite widespread reports that he faced the axe. Or for May to look to the Whips Office and Esther McVey.

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Beyond Hunt, the Cabinet's "big beasts" Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Home Secretary Amber Rudd all retained their positions.

There were some surprising developments, unrelated to the planned reshuffle.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigned from the Cabinet on grounds of ill-health, just weeks ahead of major surgery for a lesion on his right lung. Karen Bradley, another colleague she knows and trusts from her own past experience, was appointed to replace him. Within hours of the reshuffle, there were whispers around Westminster that instead of promoting her potential successors, May was determined to strangle them in their cradles.

It is reported that Greening was offered the Department for Work and Pensions, but turned it down before quitting from the cabinet.

A later announcement of Brandon Lewis' appointment as the new Conservative Party chairman, replacing Patrick McLoughlin, was not problem-free, either.

It came as an analysis by a think tank found the Cabinet now had a greater share of ministers who went to private schools than before the reshuffle.

The number of gay Cabinet ministers is also down by one with Justine Greening's exit. He then added a hashtag urging May to "get it right". Greg Clark, meanwhile, remains as Business Secretary.

The big victor of the shake-up was former Justice Secretary David Lidington, who replaced Damian Green as Minister for the Cabinet Office, but was not awarded the title of First Secretary of State enjoyed by his predecessor.

"You might nearly say, almost "nothing has changed" [so far]", Kuenssberg wrote on Twitter about the reshuffle.

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