Cabinet reshuffle - the best laid plans....


Update 1pm: Tory pin up and Mayor of London Boris Johnson has condemned the moving of Justine Greening, someone he describes as a 'first rate transport secretary'. He says that her opposition to a third runway at Heathrow - a policy he describes as "simply mad" - is the only possible reason and promises to fight Heathrow expansion all the way

Update: 11.45am: As I was saying... reshuffles never do quite go to plan.

Iain Duncan Smith was meant to be the new Justice Secretary this morning. The Daily Mail carried the story a few weeks ago. I reported the possibility last night. He was, in fact, offered the job by David Cameron last night but this morning said no and asked to be kept in charge of welfare reform.

The Treasury have always regarded IDS nervously, believing that whilst he might be good at the narrative and the caring he's not so good at keeping the pounds and pennies under control.

The Chancellor has announced his ambition to cut welfare by another £10 billion. The man in charge of welfare has told him and the prime minister that unless they cut benefits for the elderly like winter fuel payments, free TV licences and bus passes - which the PM refuses to do - that sum will prove politically impossible to find.

What's more, senior Whitehall officials have long worried that IDS's plan for a new Universal Credit could go the way of the health reforms - ie they sound good in theory but may prove bureaucratic, costly and unpopular in practice.

IDS knows that he's popular with his party as the man who led them in their darkest days and with many who campaign for the poor. That gives him real political power. Today he used it to say No to the prime minister.

The consequence is that the Treasury has another headache on their hands and prison policy will be run by Chris Grayling, someone harder line and more populist than IDS. That may please the Tory grassroots but will horrify many Lib Dems when he promises to take on the human rights culture and lock up more people.

What's already striking about this reshuffle is that it is being used to address Tory weaknesses in the long run up to an election - hence the new soothing presence of Jeremy Hunt at Health, Chris Grayling's harder line at Justice and a new pledge-free Patrick McLoughlin in charge of deciding whether there should be a new third runway at Heathrow.

Tuesday 08:30am: The work of re-shaping the government is well under way - last night David Cameron met with some of those ministers who he is asking to move.

Among them the now former Conservative Party Chairman, Baroness Warsi; former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Ken Clarke who has agreed to leave his job as justice secretary but is expected to stay in the cabinet as minister without portfolio able to advise, on amongst other things, the economy.

Their moves will be part of a series which will reshape the government's middle and junior ranks. We could see new faces in a host of departments such as health, transport and work and pensions though none of these changes are confirmed.

One mover who is certain is Andrew Mitchell, who is to be the government's new chief whip, and leaves a vacancy at International Development.

The big winners - those promoted because, it is claimed, they will be better administrators or better communicators than those they replace - will march up Downing Street in front of the cameras to hear their good news.

The appointments will, say the PM's aides, prove that the government means business.

The chancellor, who will not be moving, was reminded of the scale of the political challenge the government faces when he was booed at the Olympic stadium last night.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Laws at Education Department. In view of his reputation as the doyen of parliamentary expenses thieving, will that sort of behaviour become part of the curriculum? Is it right that our children's futures could be influenced by the lowest of the low?
    Has Rebekah's boy in No10 completely lost the plot?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    We need employment to generate taxes to pay for services. We need employment to generate wages which creates demand and hence need more employment. We need employment to get us out of the mess created by Tory voting bankers who were unopposed by the Labour government or Tory Opposition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    the only thing more worrying is the labour team whom still do not recongine that they had a huge part to play in this mess.

    bring on david davis

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    David Laws - Apparently the sentence is only two years for stealing of every taxpayer...

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    For many a long year I've wracked my brains to find out exactly what 'Qualifications' one needs to be an MP. Eureka! .... None. Just hang around long enough and some fool will believe you are intelligent just because you are a member of a particular school of arrogance! Where was the last job advert for a 'fiddler'?(Not a violinist!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Try these q's for the PM Nick
    Q1. So PM a minister leave's his position for getting his hands caught in the till and now you ask him back, what picture does this paint to the electorate?
    Q2. Mr Hunt seems unable to comprehend objectivity yet you put him in charge of the NHS whilst the privateers are prowling, why?

    Stop fawning and start representing fee payers, toothless and boring to date.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    NEWS FLASH - Sept. 2014

    Jeremy Hunt flogs the NHS to News Corps., David Laws quietly takes a percentage of the profits (though it was only a misunderstanding).

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    welcome back to parliament Dave I look forward to your witty remarks and hilarious humiliating put downs laid on to the other party's in the house,labour in particular,
    hey Dave it's your cabinet so ignore what the if I was in charge brigade and good luck for the new session.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    So anybody inspired by the reshuffle?

    Anybody got a sudden renewd confidence in the coaltion sorting out the economy?


    Alright, here's an easier one. Anybody think that Jeremy Hunts reward for his dodgy dealings is proof that this government wouldn't know ethical behaviour if it bit them on the backside?

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Hunt to Health is surreal. In a Doctor Strangelove sort of way, I mean.

    It speaks volumes when you think about it - none of it good.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Is Clegg being asked about the reshuffle ??
    Does a man ask his dog what it thinks before he rearranges the furniture in his house?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    What a complete and utter waste of time.
    We all know that cabinet government does not exist.

    So why the pretence?

    So it's all flim flam gloss public relations etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    The Treasury have every right to be worried by IDS's economic illiteracy, just ask your colleague Stephanie Flanders. Plus the fact that he is relying on failed contractors and a ropey IT system to diliver his dreams/nightmare. Cameron has shown himself to be a jelly, if he can't even select his own team what can he do? Perhaps he should have bought one of Thatcher's dresses!

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Come on soothing G Hunt at Health - you have to be joking. This smart Alec right wing Tory may be a smooth talker but there will be confrontation after confrontation with the medical profession and the unions over stealth cuts and privatisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I reckon Arsene Wenger could do a good job in the Treasury. He was trained as an economist and he has a proven record of sound fiscal transactions... He would be an improvement on Osbourne anyway

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    The front bench should certainly be reshaped.. may I suggest a large mallet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    So, it must have been agreed between Cameron and Clegg that if David Laws went quietly after being exposed as a dishonest expenses abuser, all he had to do was keep his head down for a couple of years and then our friends at the BBC would start his re-habillitation and, if there was no loud outcry, he would be up for a top cabinet job. We're all in this together, as Dave says.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    WATCH YOUR BACK MR CAMERON---IDS-HAS A SHARK FIN OUT OF HIS. HE is after your job????????!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    So Lansley goes and we get the bumbling mess that is Hunt, presumable as he protected Cameron thru Leversen. Supposed reason is that he was not able to communicate policy. May keeps her job?. It's not the skill of communication these fools need, its a cohesive, moral and ethical policy message. IDS refuses to move and Greening moved to accommodate 3rd runway promise backtrack. Squeak up Cameron


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