David Cameron has conducted the most wide-ranging reshuffle of his cabinet since taking office, appointing Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and firing Michael Gove as education secretary. Several women, including Nicky Morgan and Elizabeth Truss, have been appointed to the cabinet.
By John Aglionby and Claer Barrett
The FT, the Guardian, the Mail and the Independent all agreed this morning; the reshuffle was David Cameron’s turn to the right. In came Chris Grayling, out went Ken Clarke. In came Owen Paterson to Defra, in came Michael Fallon to the business department. One Number 10 official remarked yesterday described Grayling as “a good rightwing appointment”. I don’t think I have ever heard someone so close to Cameron saying anything like that before.
Our analysis on how important a moment this could be can be found here.
The problem is, Labour doesn’t seem to get it (to coin a phrase). Ed Miliband decided instead to attack the prime minister for carrying out a “no change” reshuffle:
David Cameron has now completed the Conservative cabinet appointments of his first major reshuffle. As Nick Clegg works own reshuffle, here is the Tory side of the new cabinet (with the changes in bold):
PM: David Cameron
Chancellor: George Osborne
Home Secretary: Theresa May
Foreign Secretary: William Hague
Education Secretary: Michael Gove
Health Secretary: Jeremy Hunt
Justice Secretary: Chris Grayling
Welfare Secretary: Iain Duncan Smith
Defence Secretary: Philip Hammond
International Development Secretary: Justine Greening
Transport Secretary: Patrick McLoughlin
Communities Secretary: Eric Pickles
Environment Secretary: Owen Paterson
Culture Secretary: Maria Miller
Northern Ireland Secretary: Theresa Villiers
Welsh Secretary: David Jones
Andrew Mitchell, the new Tory chief whip
Lots of commentators are pointing out what a hard-line disciplinarian Andrew Mitchell is likely to make as the new Tory chief whip. Well I have two stories that add to that impression.
The first is Mitchell’s “bollocks” stamp, which, one civil servant tells me, he brandishes whenever he is given a document he doesn’t like. Mandarins more used to Labour’s more caring style when it came to international development were taken aback to find Mitchell regularly sending back briefing papers with that one word of feedback planted across it.
The other piece of Mitchell’s back story that people seem to forget is that he used to be a strong advocate of the death penalty. When I asked him about this in November last year, there was an extremely long pause before he said:
It is the day before reshuffle day, and unsurprisingly, generous-spirited backbenchers are lining up to give David Cameron advice on what he should do. Here’s a response from Douglas Carswell, the Tory backbencher, which sums up the feelings of many on the right of the party:
They don’t need to reshuffle the people, they need to reshuffle the ideas and the thinking. They can reshuffle all the personnel they want, but it is a lack of ideas that is the problem.
But of course he does have some idea of people he thinks should be brought into government:
Kwasi Kwarteng, Liz Truss, Dominic Raab: there seem to know what free markets are all about.
Prime ministers aren’t supposed to engage in reshuffle speculation. Once they answer one question about a reshuffle, not only have they admitted it is going to happen, they invite a whole load of others.
But David Cameron seems to have been sufficiently spooked by recent speculation surrounding his chancellor that he felt moved to say the following to Sky’s Kay Burley:
KB: The economy will pick up, and George Osborne, his job will be safe?
DC: George Osborne is doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances and he has my full support in going on and doing that job.
KB: And he’ll still be the chancellor at the next election?
This could have been better for David Laws. The punishment imposed by the standards committee is at the worse end of expectations, at least among Lib Dems. One government figure told me he will not be returning as a minister “anytime soon”.
But, particularly in this case, it is important to define terms. If you start from the premise that the didn’t do anything seriously wrong and should be reappointed immediately, this is a terrible conclusion to the investigation.