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11 June 2017updated 01 Aug 2021 8:38am

Government reshuffle: who’s who in Theresa May’s new team?

While attempting to cling on to power, the Prime Minister is making some new appointments.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Theresa May is reshuffling her cabinet, following her humiliating loss of a Commons majority in the snap general election. Her closest advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, have already resigned  something demanded by Tory politicians who were otherwise threatening a leadership challenge. The former housing minister who lost his Croydon Central seat in the election, Gavin Barwell, has been appointed her new chief-of-staff. This already shows May’s politics since she took office and her Brexit approach have taken a hit  Barwell is on the moderate wing of the party, pro-immigration, and campaigned for Remain.

Chancellor  Philip Hammond

Before the election result, No 10 had been briefing about the ministers it would sack once the Prime Minister had boosted her position  it hasn’t turned out that way. The Chancellor Philip Hammond remains in his role, despite being a marked man for months. Tensions between No 10 and the Treasury have been bubbling for a while. Hammond became a diminished figure after his Budget U-turn in March, having broken a manifesto pledge not to raise national insurance. He also clashed with No 10 over the direction of Brexit (he wanted a softer option), and with May’s adviser Nick Timothy over a number of subjects, including housebuilding and workers on boards. Thanks to May’s weakened position, he remains in a job.

Foreign Secretary  Boris Johnson

Another one May might have had the strength to get rid of if she had boosted her majority, Boris Johnson remains safely in place in the Foreign Office. That he is thought to be on manoeuvres for the leadership makes him even safer in the job. Alienating senior ministers who are pretty much in line for your job would be a self-toppling move.

Home Secretary  Amber Rudd

Having taken the flak for some of her boss and predecessor’s more authoritarian proposals (remember when publishing lists of foreign workers at companies was mooted?), Amber Rudd has shown herself to be loyal and reliable  even when she doesn’t truly believe in some of May’s more right-wing positions. She also stood in for her in the BBC’s general election TV debate, and has done numerous high-profile interviews defending the government’s position. She may have the power to throw her weight around a little more now though, with May in such a precarious position, and with the knowledge that the Tories’ abysmal campaign nearly lost her her constituency (she won her Hastings seat after lengthy recount, by just 346 votes).

Defence Secretary – Michael Fallon

Michael Fallon, the greyest blur of a minister, nevertheless wheeled out by CCHQ every time a personal attack against the opposition leader is needed, survives another day. This is in spite of the fact that the Defence Secretary is pretty much a suited symbol of the failings of the Tory campaign: relentlessly negative, gaffe-prone and incompetent, entirely policy-free, and completely un-self-aware. Already he is doing the toughest media rounds, trying to somehow spin what’s happened into a positive story for his party and May. You have to admire the man’s commitment, which might be partly why he’s staying in the cabinet.

Brexit Secretary  David Davis

Theresa May has said she would keep David Davis in charge of Brexit. He has been loyal to her ridiculous plan for the renegotiations (“no deal is better than a bad deal”), but his loyalty over the past few days has waned. He suggested in the early hours on election night that without a majority, the Prime Minister no longer has a mandate for a hard Brexit and that the electorate would be rejecting this plan. “It [the manifesto] said we want to leave the customs union and single market, but get access to them, and to have a deep and special relationship with Europe,” he told Sky News. “That’s what it was about, that’s what we put in front of the people, we’ll see tomorrow whether they’ve accepted that or not. That will be their decision.”

And if that’s not enough to destabilise his position, Tory insiders are furious at his role in persuading May to call the disastrous snap election in the first place. As The Times reports, it was Davis and May’s advisers who talked her into the idea, with the promise of a three-figure majority. The minister keeping his job, after his part in that decision, will infuriate many Conservative politicians.

First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office Damian Green

May’s first new cabinet appointment. This is essentially a Deputy Prime Minister role for the former Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, who struggled over the course of the campaign to defend May’s “dementia tax”  stumbling through interviews until she dropped it. The First Secretary role wasn’t previously held in May’s cabinet. The last person to have it was George Osborne under David Cameron. In the Cabinet Office job, Green replaces Ben Gummer, who lost his Ipswich seat in the election.

Green has long been a close ally of May’s, having been at university with her and also a minister in her Home Office. He came up through the same pre-Cameron modernising wing of the party, and as a Remainer, his elevation to Deputy status could hint at there being more influence for a softer Brexit at the top of government.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary  Greg Clark

Greg Clark stays in his post.

Work & Pensions Secretary  David Gauke

Taking Damian Green‘s place at the DWP, David Gauke is moved out of his role as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He’s been at the Treasury for seven years, and is considered widely as a safe pair of hands. Another promotion for a Tory moderate. Gauke campaigned to Remain.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury  Liz Truss

The former Justice Secretary Liz Truss has been demoted to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury role, but attending cabinet. She replaces David Gauke. Not a vote of confidence for a minister who has struggled in her position, notably angering the legal world when she failed to defend the Article 50 judges from attacks by the right-wing press. Truss campaigned to Remain, but she is from the more neo-Thatcherite wing of the party, a small statist free marketeer. You could see her demotion as another win for the Tory moderates, or her place at the Treasury as an offering to right-wing backbenchers.

International Trade Secretary  Liam Fox

The disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox remains in government in his Brexit trade role. It’s worth remembering all the Three Brexiteers, who campaigned to Leave, are still in place. This could undermine the hope of those wishing for a softer Brexit that May’s reshuffle is a change in direction. Fox wishes to leave the customs union (unsurprisingly — he’d be out of a job otherwise). The nation (my colleague Jonn in particular) will yet again boggle at how this man somehow has a cabinet job.

Education Secretary and Women & Equalities Minister  Justine Greening

The first comprehensive-educated Education Secretary Justine Greening will stay in that role. This part of the reshuffle (or a shuffle, more like) says a lot about May’s position. She would have liked to take Greening out of Education, had her majority been big enough to give her that power. This is because Greening privately has misgivings about the grammar school policy  a flagship proposal of the May regime that will now be even more tricky to deliver without a majority. With May’s key grammar schools policy advocate, Nick Timothy, no longer her adviser, perhaps it’s a policy that will be kicked into the long-abandoned playing field grass.

Also important is that Greening keeps the Women & Equalities brief  she is the first openly gay woman in cabinet. Taking her out of that position would have been tricky, following Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson’s warnings over the weekend for the PM to protect LGBT rights when making deals with the DUP.

Communities and Local Government  Sajid Javid

The ally of George Osborne remains in place at the DCLG. Even after the Evening Standard editor and former chancellor’s comments that the PM is a “dead woman walking” and “on death row”. The fact that May is unable to sack even Sajid Javid shows that she has no sway over her own government  she cannot complete her purge of the Osbornites.

Justice Secretary  David Lidington

The former Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington has been appointed Justice Secretary. A safe choice and no return for Michael Gove, whose reforms were popular when he headed the department. The legal world will be thankful Chris Grayling wasn’t reappointed, though. Here’s legal commentator David Allen Green reacting to this bland appointment:

Lidington was Europe Minister and was pro-Remain, so this is yet another promotion for a soft Brexit advocate.

Secretary of State for Wales  Alun Cairns

In yet another non-move, Alun Cairns keeps his job as Welsh Secretary. Another Remainer.

Health Secretary  Jeremy Hunt

Bad news for doctors, nurses, NHS workers and patients everywhere as Jeremy Hunt  who didn’t pay to doctors’ concerns about their new contracts  remains in his position. He is a very good example of how toxic ministers can stay put for years, to finish the mess they’ve made and save anyone from inheriting such a sticky situation. (See: Iain Duncan Smith at the DWP).

Chief Whip  Gavin Williamson

It was pretty clear the Chief Whip Gavin Williamson would be staying in his role, as he was dispatched this weekend by May to go and try to persuade the DUP to do a formal coalition with the Tories. Here’s my colleague Patrick on why that was a fool’s errand. Williamson, who keeps a pet tarantula called Cronus in his office, is a survivor of whipping a government with a slim majority  now he’ll have even more of a job on his hands, as May has lost even that small advantage. Cronus will have to stretch all his legs this time round.

Transport Secretary  Chris Grayling

The campaign chief of May’s (albeit short) bid to be Tory leader, and staunch Brexiteer, Chris Grayling is staying at the Department for Transport. He had been a useful ally of May’s, reassuring fellow eurosceptics and Brexit voters that the once Remain-backing Prime Minister really meant that “Brexit means Brexit”  but with such a wounded leader, that line will now have less credibility. Though his presence will comfort right-wingers. Detractors who have previously worked for him in government usually either decry him as a hardline right winger, or suggest he is just simply not very bright.

A notorious figure since his stint as Justice Secretary in 2012-15, Grayling is known for his uncompromising and compassionless (and often senseless) policy decisions – banning books being sent to prisoners, legal aid cuts, and controversial new court charges.

International Development Secretary  Priti Patel

Another non-shuffle to comfort right-wingers in the party, Priti Patel is staying as Dfid Secretary. Dfid, though one of the less political departments, is a particularly controversial charge for Patel. In 2013, she suggested to the Daily Telegraph that it should be scrapped in favour of a more trade-focused department. But one of the Cameroon touches in May’s manifesto was the commitment to 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid spending, and now she definitely doesn’t have the power to go back on that  so Patel may be defanged for now.

Northern Ireland Secretary – James Brokenshire

Although the mainland’s eyes are on whether May can form a more formal deal with the DUP than the Tories already have, James Brokenshire has to somehow act as a neutral broker in the power-sharing negotiations in Belfast. Even before May lost her majority and came to rely on the unionists, Brokenshire was making a bad job of this. He is already seen as too close to the DUP (the Tories have been working informally with the DUP), and as using Northern Ireland’s divides for political purposes  just before the election, he challenged Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell on their record regarding the IRA.

Culture Secretary  Karen Bradley

No change here, Karen Bradley stays at DCMS.

Leader of the House of Commons  Andrea Leadsom

May’s brief rival for the Tory leadership, Andrea Leadsom moves from Defra to being the Leader of the House of Commons  a higher-profile and tougher job than usual in a hung parliament. But she’s a mother, so she should be ok.

Environment Secretary  Michael Gove

The short-lived Tory leadership candidate and Theresa May’s cabinet nemesis Michael Gove is back  as Environment Secretary. Bringing him into the fold shows May’s desperation to find a broader base of support from the backbenches for her ailing government. Although he lost some respect due to his backstabbing of Boris during the Tory leadership contest, Gove is generally popular among Tory MPs  if not with the electorate. Defra is not a particularly glamorous Department to make a comeback in though. Over at the Spectator, Fraser Nelson notes that he follows “his erstwhile junior, Liz Truss, in the environment brief”.

Home Office Minister  Brandon Lewis

Attending cabinet, Brandon Lewis will stay on as a Home Office minister.

Attorney General  Jeremy Wright

Attorney General since David Cameron’s day (he was appointed in 2014), Jeremy Wright stays where he is.

Leader of the House of Lords  Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans stays in the procedural role, having been appointed by May last year.

Conservative Party Chair  Patrick McLoughlin

Keeping your party chair in place after such a terrible campaign is, again, a sign of desperation. May let the blame fall squarely on her closest advisers, as she knows lashing out at any figures in the parliamentary party would not be smiled upon by her already enraged MPs. So Patrick McLoughlin stays where he is.

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