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13 July 2016

Team May: Tories who are on the new Prime Minister’s side, and who she must win over

Theresa May's Brexit Government must promise both continuity and change. 

By Julia Rampen

The moving vans have arrived at Downing Street. With the exception of Larry the Cat, the current occupants will soon be gone. And a whole new set of ministers will be dropping round. 

Theresa May, the anointed successor to David Cameron, is yet to announce her Cabinet. But the current Home secretary will be under pressure to strike a balance between rewarding her followers and representing the Leave vote. Plus, she has a national crisis on her hands. Picking the right team could make or break her Government. Here are some of the decisions she needs to weigh up:

The Maytriarch’s rewards

First, she has to pay back her powerful backers, not least Chris Grayling, a former Justice secretary, who chaired her campaign. Other key supporters include Philip Hammond, the current Foreign secretary, Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and a very early backer, International Development secretary Justine Greening.

Also showering praise on her is her old Cabinet colleague, George Osborne, who said May has “integrity, strength and leadership”. He is believed to be angling for Foreign secretary. 

The Chancellor’s decision to ram home the Remain message played badly with Eurosceptic voters, and quashed his own chance of a leadership bid. 

But he has been a powerful force in the Government since 2010, and keeping him in the Cabinet would ensure some continuity during a troubled period. 

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Love for Leave 

Next, she must harness the energy of the Leave campaign. Andrea Leadsom, her former rival to the throne, could be her biggest threat if left in the cold. She is likely to have a seat in a May Cabinet. 

May will have more wiggle room over what she offers two other well-known Leave campaigners, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. 

She has no love for Gove – two years ago, his aides briefed against her handling of extremism in schools, and she retaliated in kind. He was later banished to the Whips’ office. 

But May is reported to be planning a “unity Cabinet” – and The Sun reports this could stretch to a seat for her old enemy

Johnson, tipped for leader before he was brought down by Gove, could find it a little chillier under May. She singled out his water cannon purchase for criticism during her campaign launch. Meanwhile, he backed Leadsom in the leadership race.

The movers and shakers

Cameron was known for keeping ministers in their positions, a move that smoothed government but kept junior Tory MPs from gaining the experience they craved.

Those getting promotions may include Energy secretary Amber Rudd, who delivered a series of put downs on behalf of the Remain campaign, and James Brokenshire, who worked for May at the Home Office. 

Minister for Brexit

May has also promised a Minister for Brexit, who will lead negotiations with Brussels. Guesses have ranged from right winger Liam Fox to Tory veteran David Davis. But it may be Grayling, the Leave campaigner and May fan, who gets this particular prize. 

And as for Larry the Cat? His position as Chief Mouser is secure.