UK Cabinet Re-Shuffle: Out with the Old and In with the New?
Theresa May is currently embarking on the first cabinet re-shuffle for 2018 today. That seems to be the “big news” for today. The re-shuffle comes in part as consequence of the forced resignation of May’s long-term political ally, Damian Green, after he was found to have stored pornographic images on his House of Commons computer. However, this will also give the PM the opportunity to “cut the fat.” To oust ministers who have been disloyal, or have differences of opinion on the direction of the government.
The prime minister will be looking to achieve two things. Firstly, to breathing new life into the current government. It is nearly an impossible feat as Theresa May is not strong enough to attempt to re-shuffle senior ministers, such as the “big four,” Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove and Philip Hammond. With that in mind, it is difficult to envisage a re-vamped government. Secondly, Theresa May will be looking at laying the foundations for a future Conservative government by considerably re-shuffling mid to lower levels of government, bringing in new and younger faces into the ranks in order to promote a diversity of talent into junior ministerial positions.
In early news
As the re-shuffle is happening as we speak, it is difficult to predict what the end result will be for the government. So far, Immigration minister, Brandon Lewis has been moved to become the Conservative Party chairman, with James Cleverly by his side as deputy party chairman. Lewis’ appointment as chairman of the Tory party is a result of former chairman, Patrick McLoughlin’s resignation. There are, however reports that McLoughlin was given the boot after he oversaw a damaging general election result, as well as the party falling victim to hacking. James Brokenshire also resigned as Northern Ireland secretary, with ill health being the reason for his departure.
No deal minister
One of the biggest and most controversial stories that have emerged from the New Year re-shuffle, is the possible appointment of a Brexit “minister for no deal.” The current favourite to fill this role is Steve Baker, a Brexit hardliner and deputy to Brexit secretary, David Davis. This appointment would be fresh evidence of the prime minister looking to entice staunch Conservative Brexiteers.
The role of the “No Deal” minister would be to prepare Britain to pull out of the EU under the “no deal” scenario. The “No Deal” minister would be handed a seat at the cabinet table; however, they would not be a full member.
No Brexit over no deal
The notion of a “No Deal” minister has certainly ruffled the feathers of members of more moderate and left parties. Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, said that May should be focusing on negotiating the best exit terms, not on how to “solve ideological arguments in her deeply divided party.”
“The Government should not even be considering leaving the EU with no deal - that is the worst of all possible options,” he said. “However, this shows the journey the Conservatives are taking, steering the country further and further into a highly damaging hard Brexit. For the good of our economic future, a no deal Brexit must be ruled out immediately,” Cable continued.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister for the Scottish National Party was also quick to respond to the prospect of the government appointing a Brexit “No Deal” minister. In a tweet, Sturgeon said: “If this is true (let’s hope not), it will show yet again that the views of hardline Tory Brexiteers are more important to the PM than the interests of the country. ‘No deal’ is unthinkable. ‘No Brexit’ should be the clear preference over ‘no deal’.”