There’s no such thing as an unsackable minister, Theresa May declared yesterday, as the PM laid down the law to her feuding colleagues. There’s a big problem here, which is that this simply isn’t true: just ask Philip Hammond, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss, all very much in the firing line before the election, none of whom May has the strength to sack.
It’s true, as I say in my column this week, that the bulk of Conservative MPs take a dim view of the public fighting at the top of the party. It’s also true that there is widespread support for a statement firing to get people in line. But the problems arise when you start to pin MPs down on who, exactly, should be sacked. What tends to happen is that MPs who backed a Leave vote name a Remainer, while Remainers tend to name a Brexiteer.
There are ministers without much pull in the parliamentary party, but they also tend to be ministers who haven’t been engaging in private or public feuding.
And even if a minister could be found who was a) completely friendless and b) responsible for some of the recent difficulties, it’s an awkward truth that the dismissed tend to be more likely to vote against the government or go missing on crunch votes.
No such thing as an unsackable minister? Don’t believe a word of it.