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10 January 2018

If she hopes to run in another election, then Theresa May’s reshuffle was tactical

As far as the Prime Minister's political objectives go, the reshuffle was a lot more successful than it looks.  

By Stephen Bush

Theresa May carried off her reshuffle of the lower tiers of the government with a touch more flair than she managed with the Cabinet.

“Massacre Of The Middle-Aged Men” is the Mail‘s measured take on a reshuffle that brought Lucy Frazer, Rishi Sunak, Nusrat Ghani and others into the government for the first time.

So all in all, how did the reshuffle go? If, as I do, you subscribe to the thesis that the Conservatives can win the next election if they choose the right leader and the right policies, then it went pretty badly as the right policies look to have been nodded to – Sajid Javid gets the word “housing” in his job title, but a longstanding and vocal defender of the Green Belt as his junior in Dominic Raab – and the leadership options remain pretty thin.

But what if May doesn’t subscribe to that thesis? There’s an assumption in large parts of the Tory party that she does but her public pronouncements, and indeed this reshuffle, point in a very different direction. Yes, there were the quintessential moments of Mayite self-harm, but on the whole this was quite a clever reshuffle if the PM wants to lead the Conservatives into the next election: there is still an equilibrium between possible alternatives at the top table and MPs who have caught the eye remain either, like Raab, Jo Johnson and so on, in junior posts or over at CCHQ as “vice-chairs”.

As far as May’s political objectives go, the reshuffle was a lot more successful than it looks.