Night of the blunt stiletto

May’s new year re­launch off to false start as min­is­ters refuse to move in reshuf­fle

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Gor­don Rayner Po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor

THERESA MAY’S hopes of assert­ing her author­ity with a Cabi­net re­vamp fell flat last night af­ter se­nior min­is­ters de­railed her reshuf­fle by re­fus­ing to move from their jobs.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Sec­re­tary, faced down the Prime Min­is­ter when she asked him to be­come busi­ness sec­re­tary, forc­ing Mrs May to tear up her plans to pro­mote or move other min­is­ters.

Jus­tine Green­ing, who had been asked to move from ed­u­ca­tion to work and pen­sions, dug in her heels dur­ing two and a half hours in­side Down­ing Street, re­fus­ing the new role be­fore fi­nally re­sign­ing.

Mrs May’s in­abil­ity to im­pose her will on her min­is­ters was mocked as “em­bar­rass­ing” by some of her own MPS, with one Govern­ment source de­scrib­ing the day’s events as “the night of the blunt stiletto”.

Down­ing Street had billed the reshuf­fle as a new year re­launch, but in­stead Mrs May’s at­tempts to gen­er­ate fresh im­pe­tus were scup­pered as she failed to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the num­ber of fe­male or eth­nic mi­nor­ity min­is­ters in full Cabi­net roles.

Last night, with the reshuf­fle still on­go­ing, Mrs May had failed to sack a sin­gle min­is­ter. Hav­ing started her reshuf­fle at 11.30am, it took more than seven hours be­fore a new face joined the Cabi­net.

Six­teen Cabi­net min­is­ters stayed in the same roles, in­clud­ing Philip Ham­mond, Am­ber Rudd, Boris John­son, David Davis, Michael Gove and Liam Fox. Three min­is­ters re­signed, three moved to other depart­ments and four ju­nior min­is­ters were pro­moted to Cabi­net posts. One min­is­ter said: “It’s the reshuf­fle that never was, it’s bizarre. It just looks weak.”

It fol­lows the loss of Mrs May’s ma­jor­ity in last year’s gen­eral elec­tion and the fi­asco of Oc­to­ber’s Conservative Party Con­fer­ence.

The big­gest win­ner of the day was David Lid­ing­ton, who be­comes Mrs May’s new de facto deputy af­ter he was pro­moted from Jus­tice Sec­re­tary to Min­is­ter for the Cabi­net Of­fice, tak­ing on most of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties va­cated by Damian Green when he was forced to re­sign last month.

But the tone for what was to be­come a chaotic day in Down­ing Street started when the party wrongly an­nounced on Twit­ter that Chris Grayling, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary, had been given the job of party chair­man.

The tweet – un­der­stood to have been based on er­ro­neous television re­ports – was swiftly deleted be­fore Bran­don Lewis, who started the day as im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter, was un­veiled as the new man in charge of Conservative Campaign Head­quar­ters.

He re­placed Sir Pa­trick Mclough­lin, 60, who re­signed af­ter be­ing blamed

for the elec­tion and party con­fer­ence fail­ures.

Mrs May’s plans went se­ri­ously awry when she called Mr Hunt into No10. Mrs May in­tended in­stead to move him to busi­ness, re­plac­ing Greg Clark, be­liev­ing that af­ter al­most six years as Health Sec­re­tary it was time for Mr Hunt to move on.

Dur­ing an hour-long showdown, how­ever, Mr Hunt “pas­sion­ately” ar­gued his case, in­sid­ers said. He emerged with the beefed-up ti­tle of Sec­re­tary of State for Health and So­cial Care.

Mrs May then lost her bat­tle to move Ms Green­ing, forc­ing her to change her plans once again. Damian Hinds, a min­is­ter at work and pen­sions, was the big sur­prise mover of the day when he was pro­moted to Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary.

Es­ther Mcvey moved from the Whips’ Of­fice to be­come the new Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, re­plac­ing David Gauke who be­came Jus­tice Sec­re­tary.

James Bro­ken­shire, the North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary, re­signed af­ter an­nounc­ing he needed ma­jor surgery and was re­placed by Karen Bradley, from the Cul­ture depart­ment. She was re­placed by her deputy, Matt Han­cock.

Jeremy Hunt and Jus­tine Green­ing turned down new roles in Mrs May’s reshuf­fle

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.