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12 July 2014

Lib Dems delay Jo Swinson’s promotion to the cabinet

Business minister will replace Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary following the independence referendum. 

By George Eaton

Jo Swinson is cabinet-bound but not quite yet. Earlier this week, I reported speculation among Lib Dems that the business minister would replace Ed Davey in next Monday’s reshuffle as Nick Clegg finally added a woman to his party’s top team (all five of the party’s current cabinet ministers are male). 

I’m told by a source that Clegg considered this move (Davey is regarded as a poor media performer) and that the Energy Secretary has been “calling around in a panic”. But as Nick Watt writes in today’s Guardian, he has now resolved that Swinson will instead replace Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary following the independence referendum in September. It is thought that this move will increase her chances of holding her marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire (majority: 2,184) against Labour. Carmichael, who replaced Michael Moore in the role in last year’s reshuffle, may be offered a general election campaign post in return. 

When she does enter the cabinet, Swinson will be the youngest-ever female member and the first cabinet minister born in the 1980s. No top-level changes will be made on the Lib Dem side next week. Clegg confirmed last weekend that Vince Cable would remain Business Secretary until the election and Danny Alexander will remain Chief Secretary to the Treasury ahead of his likely confirmation as the party’s chief economic spokesman for the election (replacing Cable in that role). 

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