It was meant to be the reshuffle which re-launched Theresa May as a Prime Minister with authority and ideas for the domestic policy agenda. Instead it has simply reminded everyone that she’s running an unstable government and continues to have to agree with the last person she spoke to in order to stay in power.
It didn’t start well when Tory HQ incorrectly Tweeted that Chris Grayling had been appointed as Tory Party Chair, only for the post to go to Brandon Lewis. When it was put to Lewis that the party was in a mess the only response he could muster was “not quite”.
The Jeremy Hunt, the calamitous Health Secretary currently overseeing the worst winter crisis in NHS history went to see May to be demoted, but left with social care added to his portfolio having refused to budge. Another who refused to be demoted was Justine Greening, who chose instead to leave government completely.
The core team running the government remain in place with May too weak to move Boris Johnson, David Davis, Amber Rudd or even Philip Hammond. There are some younger faces coming into government at lower levels, but these MPs will largely be lobby-fodder as every vote will be needed to steer the rest of the Brexit legislation through Parliament.
The success of the reshuffle was perhaps best summed up by George Osborne in his editorial for the Evening Standard “you have to hand it to this Prime Minister: she’s given us the hat-trick of worst reshuffle, the worst party conference speech and the worst manifesto in modern history”.
The Cabinet is now whiter, more male, more privately educated and more based in the South-East than it was on Monday morning. Far from reaching out and bringing in new talents May has instead gone back to the Tory comfort zone when it comes to sits around the top table.
The real problem with this government isn’t who they have sitting round the cabinet table, but the fact that they continue to pursue a programme of austerity which has brought public services to their knees and given us a lost decade of wage stagnation.
May’s cabinet now shapes up as shown below: