Theresa May ready to replace top cabinet ministers in reshuffle

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2018

Some MPs in her Conservative Party had joined newspaper commentators in condemning a chaotic reshuffle of senior ministers on Monday, which was followed by a reorganisation of the junior ranks on Tuesday.

"I'm encouraging her to be bold", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

It didn't start well.

In: Well, for all of 27 seconds it was Chris Grayling, the UK's transport minister.

Lewis had until today been the Minister of State for Immigration and was the first minister to have been summoned to No.10 to meet with the Prime Minister this morning.

Instead, it did little more than demonstrate May's weakness, with the only high-profile moves derailed when one minister quit rather than take a new job and another talked May out of changing his role. Conservative Party headquarters initially identified the wrong person as the new party chief, a mistake which recalled the goofy comedy of errors at the party conference a year ago, when letters from a slogan on the party platform started dropping as the PM was speaking. And some of the new lineup, including Bradley, and Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch, presented a younger, fresher face to the world.

The European commission's chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, expressed surprise at the content of the letter and insisted it was only natural for the bloc to prepare for a situation threatened repeatedly by Downing Street.

Sources say the Cabinet big beasts are safe - but Education Secretary Justine, Greening Business Secretary Greg Clark and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom are all seen as vulnerable to be sacked or demoted.

Former work and pensions minister Esther McVey, who temporarily lost her seat between 2015 and 2017, returns to head the department.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is right to plan for all scenarios, including no deal, but she is confident the two sides will reach an agreement on their post-Brexit relations in time for the UK's departure. And it couldn't have been more different from the brutal reshuffle of July 2016 that saw her dispatch heavyweights including George Osborne and Nicky Morgan to the backbenches.

Sajid Javid has had his responsibility for housing added to his existing Cabinet title in a sign of the issue's increasing political importance.

The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, said: "The secretary of state for health should be here ... not pleading for a promotion in Downing Street".

And a backlash grew after Lewes MP Maria Caulfield was appointed the party's vice-chair for women - despite having led opposition to the decriminalisation of abortion.

May's decision to keep them in their jobs was in part a reflection of her need to balance Brexit-backing ministers like Johnson and Davis with more pro-EU politicians such as Hammond and Rudd.

But Monday's comings and goings were far from the radical refresh that had been trailed.

"A prime minister who at Christmas was just looking politically a little bit stronger seems pretty much back to base camp again", Dr. Curtice remarked.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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