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PM's reshuffle nightmare

May’s power ploy thwarted as ministers resist moves


Greening: resigned from government

Theresa May’s attempt at galvanising her top team was thrown off course after Education Secretary Justine Greening quit and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to take on a new role.

Ms Greening resigned after the Prime Minister failed over three hours of talks to persuade her to take over at the Department for Work and Pensions. She was later replaced by Damian Hinds.

In a day of tense talks but few surprises, Ms Greening’s departure and Mr Hunt’s similar refusal to take on a new role – at the Department for Business – was yet another blow to Mrs May’s authority.

It began with her appointment of Brandon Lewis as the new Conservative party chairman and a brief to bring the party to heel.

Mr Lewis, the immigration minister, replaces Sir Patrick McLoughlin, with James Cleverly as his deputy.

Ms Greening’s departure also dealt a blow to gender balance in Cabinet. Apart from the education brief she was also minister for women and equalities and revealed in June 2016 she was in a same sex relationship while international development secretary.

After resigning from Mrs May’s front bench she said she will continue to work outside government to do everything she can to promote equality of opportunity “for young people wherever they are growing up and whatever their circumstances”.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she was sorry to see Ms Greening depart government.

Esther McVey was later named new Work and Pensions Secretary.

Mr Hunt refused a move to replace Greg Clark as Business Secretary and insisted he stay on in his current post. He will have an added brief of social care.

Mr Hunt and Mr Clark, who also remains in post, held lengthy meetings with the Prime Minister before the announcements came through.

Karen Bradley was appointed Northern Ireland secretary to replace James Brokenshire, who has stepped down for health reasons.

Justice Secretary David Lidington has been moved to the Cabinet Office, and succeeded by David Gauke, seen as a rising star.

Sajid Javid becomes Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

But there was a general air of disappointment that the reshuffle failed to deliver any big changes.

Among 10 ministers remaining in post were Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

Some expected Mr Johnson to pay for his maverick style and recent gaffes while there have been reports of behind the scenes tensions between the Prime Minister and Mr Hammond.

New junior ministers are to be announced on Tuesday. Sources say that Mrs May is likely to promote a number of women and MPs from ethnic minority groups.

The changes are Mrs May’s third reshuffle since becoming PM in July 2016 and were triggered by her sacking of Damian Green as First Secretary last month.

Response from Opposition MPs was scathing while even some Tory MPs felt disappointed. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a “lacklustre PR exercise” while the SNP’s Stephen Gethin said: “Today’s shambolic on-going Cabinet reshuffle has confirmed that Theresa May is a prisoner to the Brexit Hard liners.”

Tory MP Nicholas Soames said simply: “Is that it?”

Posts confirmed:

Chancellor: Philip Hammond

Home Secretary: Amber Rudd

Foreign Secretary: Boris Johnson

Brexit Secretary: David Davis

Defence Secretary: Gavin Williamson

Northern Ireland Secretary: Karen Bradley

Justice Secretary: David Gauke

Health and Social Care Secretary: Jeremy Hunt

Conservative chairman: Brandon Lewis

Business and Energy Secretary: Greg Clark

Housing and Communities Secretary: Sajid Javid

Culture, Media and Sports Secretary: Matt Hancock

International Trade Secretary: Liam Fox

Transport Secretary: Chris Grayling

Environment Secretary: Michael Gove

Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Evans

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: David Lidington

International Development Secretary: Penny Mordaunt

Education Secretary: Damian Hinds

Work and Pensions Secretary: Esther McVey

Welsh Secretary: Alun Cairns

Scottish Secretary: David Mundell

Other ministers with the right to attend cabinet:

Attorney General: Jeremy Wright

Immigration Minister: Caroline Nokes

Minister of State for Business and Energy: Claire Perry


…more follows..


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