Mitchell the first name revealed


Nick Robinson reports on the reshuffle

LATEST NEWS: I can confirm that Andrew Mitchell will become the new government chief whip in Tuesday's reshuffle.

He will replace Patrick McLoughlin, who will get a new job in government - as yet unknown.

I'm told that Mr Mitchell, who was International Development Secretary, has been involved in drawing up a plan for widespread change which will involve many in the middle ranks of the cabinet as well as many in more junior ranks.

Those in the top posts - the deputy prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary, defence secretary, home secretary and business secretary will stay in their posts but many others may move or leave the government altogether.

10:05 GMT:

Not much work will be done in Whitehall today.

Ministers will be wondering whether they'll soon be clearing their desks. Civil servants will be gossiping about who might become their new boss. Backbenchers will be hoping that the call they've long dreamt of will come and come soon.

David Cameron's first reshuffle* looks set to happen on Tuesday. It looks likely to be more widespread than expected before the summer.

That means that whilst the cabinet's top three - Clegg, Osborne and Hague - will know that they will stay in their posts and whilst I'd be very surprised if Theresa May did not stay at the Home Office and Michael Gove remain at Education few, if any, other cabinet ministers can be sure about their futures.

So, there could be changes in significant posts - for example, Health, Justice, Transport, Culture, Media and Sports, Environment, International Development are all in play.

Let me stress that I am not predicting changes in any of those departments. Anyone who tells you they know what will happen is a mug and for a good reason - reshuffles often go wrong.

The prime minister's top aides will spend today in front of a whiteboard in No 10 armed with marker pens and yellow post-it notes plotting possible moves, checks that need to be completed first, people who have to be squared, calls that have to be made.

Restless parties

They will know that plans for reshuffles, like wars, rarely survive first contact with the enemy who, in this case, are the unpredictable, egotistical and irascible folk who make up not one but two increasingly restless parliamentary parties.

I recall one Blair reshuffle when I received calls telling me that his plan to create a new Ministry of Justice was on and another call, a few minutes later, saying that it was off as aides sought to placate a furious Lord Chancellor.

In New Labour's first round of appointments the No 10 switchboard - normally so efficient at contacting anyone anywhere at any time - invited the Tory former minister Lord Hunt (as against his Labour namesake) to speak to the PM about becoming health minister.

In Harold Wilson's day it was only once one lucky man was in the study at No 10 that everyone realised that this was the wrong Mr Davies (or was it Jones or Smith, I can't recall). Wilson, a man who knew the vengeful power of disappointment, decided to give the man the job anyway.

That, you see, is the problem with reshuffles.

Politicians are people who believe that they are capable of high office whatever you, or I, or their peers might think. They are apt to argue about which post they deserve or even refuse to accept a move.

All prime ministers hope that their reshuffle will inject new energy, ideas and presentational panache into their government. The danger is, though, that they inject inexperience, ignorance and tension into government as new ministers take a year to master their brief and to work out how to get on with their new colleagues.

'Destroying hope'

Remember that the good working relations between Tories and Lib Dems in most ministries were rooted in the days following the Rose Garden romance.

On the backbenches. reshuffles can destroy hope and sever the last hold party managers have on their grumbling troops.

David Cameron won plaudits on all sides at Westminster and in Whitehall for arguing against the annual reshuffle ritual.

He will now be feeling the pressure of a new conventional wisdom - that his government is going nowhere, is divided and does not know how to stimulate economic growth (as summed up in yesterday's excoriating editorial in the Sunday Times).

All the more reason why today he would be wise to ask himself repeatedly - will this move make things better or might it actually make things worse?

* as against the one in, one out approach he made when David Laws, Chris Huhne and Liam Fox left the Cabinet.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Some here want an election now.
    My view is that is what Labour least want.
    They want the Conservatives and Liberals to try and drag the deficit back to zero and get all the political flack for the unpopular decisions to do so. Then Labour can come in on a massive majority and start spending what we haven't got again. The never ending cycle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    The only "reshuffle" voters want is an election. Now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    The problem is we have an incompetent PM, completely out of his depth, shuffling around a bunch of other incompetents. It's no wonder faith in British politics is at an all time low.

    I can't remember British politics at such a low ebb, and I can go back to the days of MacMillan, Wilson et al. Where there used to be giants, there are now pygmies., and some bery unpleasant ones at that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    They just don't have a clue what to do - No Business Growth Plan - No Healthcare Plan - No Import / Export Strategy - No Education revitalisation Plan - No Elderly Care Strategy - No Employment Revitalisation Strategy etc. etc.

    They are right up the creek without a paddle !!

    We are going broke - We have No Leader anywhere to pilot us out of this mess !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    I can't see how replacing incompetence with ineptitude will make any difference, but still ... I'm puzzled as to why Cameron is choosing to change the middle rankers and bottom feeders of his administration when it's those at the top of this particular food chain that need reshuffling ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I was at the Paralympics last night & was embarassed by the booing for George Osborne. None-the-less, you've got to question the judgement and arrogance of the man to turn up anyway. Surely he knew that his presence (not at the Games - tho I'm sure he didn't pay for his ticket! - but in awarding medals) would attract that reaction and would tarnish both his & the Games' reputation. Go G.O.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    "David Davis said Mr Osborne should cut taxes and spending further to "reinvigorate" fortunes."

    .... presumably to help those of us that have 'fortunes'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    If you have an unimaginative dithering chef, poor quality ingredients and you keep changing your mind on the decoration - you cannot make a decent cake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Well, I'm heading for Heathrow Terminal 4 next week. Things are pretty desperate in the UK when viewed from Asia I'm afraid. Re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic are not going make any difference. The UK politicians are all too weak kneed to address issues that would really make a difference. Bye for now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    138 Perhaps reorganising the crew assignments on the Hindenburg is a better one?
    We all know the ending of this by now, no matter who is in charge of the inflight cocktails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    This already smells of the 'old pals act', versus what is best for the country.
    And the winner is.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Oh God it just hopeless. What are we going to do ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    The thing is, the PM will actually loose more credibility by not changing Osborne than he would by sacking him. So many voters want to see a change in the exchequer that not to do it would seem arrogant. What DC needs to do is show that he is not afraid to take the bull by the horns and actually say "You know what, I need to actually do this right and hang the media" - Sack Osborne today Dave!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    For this reshuffle to mean anything, Cameron has to start thinking about who is best for the country rather than who he likes. Many would agree that Osborne has no place as chancellor. The big story would be if he gave that job to Cable. Yes he's a wet liberal, ex labour man BUT he knows numbers and one thing we urgently need at, or near, the top is someone that actually understands economics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    if you remove the top 3 failing ministers it would read:
    1 Cameron
    2 Clegg
    3 Osborne

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    The thing I find most disconcerting about George Osbourne is that you can get 10% more than 100%.

    The man is in charge of the nation's finances

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Terry Wogan knows more about banking than george osbourne. Cameron can't move Osbourne without it looking like the policies of the coalition have been wrong. But i would feel so much happier if ken clarke or vince cable were chancellor

  • Comment number 139.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Can we please (!) have a moratorium on references to 're-arranging the deckchairs on the titanic' ... can't move on here without tripping over one.

    Mind you, Cameron changing his ministers is rather like re-arranging the deckchairs on the titanic, isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    You can reshuffle the whole of the shadow cabinet in and nothing would change.

    The economy is broken, politics is broken and the electorate are fools.


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