Sajid Javid speaks at the World Islamic Economic Forum at ExCel on October 30, 2013 in London. Photograph: Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Sajid Javid replaces Maria Miller as Culture Secretary

Osborne ally becomes the first 2010 Tory to enter the cabinet as Nicky Morgan is named women's minister. 

David Cameron took almost all of Westminster by surprise when he announced on Twitter that Sajid Javid, a key ally of George Osborne, would replace Maria Miller as culture secretary (becoming the first of the 2010 Tory intake to enter the cabinet). Most had bet on another woman taking her place, with Esther McVey, Nicky Morgan and Liz Truss among the frontrunners. 

But all become clear minutes later when Cameron announced that Nicky Morgan, currently the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, would take over from Javid as Financial Secretary and serve as minister for women, attending cabinet in that capacity. By promoting Morgan to the cabinet, Cameron has ensured that the number of women doesn't fall below the already lamentable level of five but Javid's ascension to Culture Secretary means there are now just three full members of the cabinet who are female (Theresa May, Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers) and not a single mother.

But in appointing Javid, the PM has wisely rewarded one of the brightest of the 2010 Tory intake (he became a vice president at Chase Manhattan at 25) and gone some way to addressing the Tories' ethnic minority problem. Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, has previously urged Cameron to addresss the toxic legacy of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech, calling for the PM to say Powell "doesn’t represent what the Conservative Party is today in any way and to set out what the Conservative Party actually is when it comes to race relations, multiculturalism and so forth"

It's also worth noting that Javid has taken over the equalities brief from Miller. Morgan's opposition to equal marriage (she voted against it last year) was almost certainly a factor in the decision not to give her the job. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

How Theresa May is trying to trap her opponents over Brexit

An amendment calling on MPs to "respect" the referendum outcome is ammunition for the battles to come. 

Theresa May is making a habit of avoiding unnecessary defeats. In the Richmond Park by-election, where the Liberal Democrats triumphed, the Conservatives chose not to stand a candidate. In parliament, they today accepted a Labour motion calling on the government to publish a "plan for leaving the EU" before Article 50 is triggered. The Tories gave way after as many as 40 of their number threatened to vote with the opposition tomorrow. Labour's motion has no legal standing but May has avoided a symbolic defeat.

She has also done so at little cost. Labour's motion is sufficiently vague to allow the government to avoid publishing a full plan (and nothing close to a White Paper). Significantly, the Tories added an amendment stating that "this House will respect the wishes of the United Kingdom as expressed in the referendum on 23 June; and further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017". 

For No.10, this is ammunition for the battles to come. If, as expected, the Supreme Court rules that parliament must vote on whether to trigger Article 50, Labour and others will table amendments to the resulting bill. Among other things, these would call for the government to seek full access to the single market. May, who has pledged to control EU immigration, has so far avoided this pledge. And with good reason. At the Christian Democrat conference in Germany today, Angela Merkel restated what has long been Europe's position: "We will not allow any cherry picking. The four basic freedoms must be safeguarded - freedom of movement for people, goods, services and financial market products. Only then can there be access to the single market."

There is no parliamentary majority for blocking Brexit (MPs will vote for Article 50 if the amendments fall). But there is one for single market membership. Remain supporters insist that the 23 June result imposed no conditions. But May, and most Leavers, assert that free movement must be controlled (as the Out campaign promised). 

At the moment of confrontation, the Conservatives will argue that respecting the result means not binding their hands. When MPs argue otherwise, expect them to point to tomorrow's vote. One senior Labour MP confessed that he would not vote for single market membership if it was framed as "disrespecting Brexit". The question for May is how many will prove more obstructive. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.