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.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Jeremy Hunt will no doubt be consulting his best buddy Rupert on how the popular reforms of the NHS can be best portrayed in the Sunday Sun and other equally intelligent rags.
    Who elected Warsi anyway?
    Has May learnt how long 3 months is yet so she can extradite unwanted people from UK?

  • Comment number 100.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    All those grand-parents and relatives coming in to Britain and going straight on to 'welfare' - including DLA/ mobility allowance - Britain can't afford it.

    BBC must have a hoard of idle, left wing, public sector trolls ready on these blogs to administer 'editors picks' etc - or a special button to add extra negative scoring to those objecting to UK damage caused by left wing politicians'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    I think in most professions the admission that you had helped yourself to tens of thousands of pounds to which you were not entitled, would pretty much spell the end of your career. Not apparently in politics. After just a short spell on the sidelines then back you come. Integrity is not considered a prerequisite for running the country. I hope they don't expect people to trust them

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    I'm sorry to criticise you, Nick Robinson as I almost virtually always agree with your comments, but you've got the quote wrong; it should be:

    The best laid schemes o' mice an' men............Gang aft a-gley

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    the future of the NHS is really in doubt with Jeremy Hunt legal tax avoider who is a week feeble individual who will buckle when the NHS hits the proverbial fan in a year or twos time he will just bend over and let the market forces driven US companies waltz in and take over because hes a yes man put in place to say yes and rewarded for doing so this is so transparent

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    "The Chancellor has announced his ambition to cut welfare by another £10 billion."

    Why not stop subsidising UK mass immigration and cut 'welfare' by £20 bn (pa)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Nadine Dorries approves the changes ......says it all really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    This shower make John Major's government look like a one of elder statesmen, they managed to obtain the worst result since 1832.
    The bookies have stopped taking bets that the 'Witney Plonker' and the Bullingdon louts will win more seats than 1997.
    Come back John, all is forgiven.
    Another 18 years in the wilderness beckons.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    @87 PhilA. That doesn't fix the problem, because for an Estuary Airport to be succesful (and therefore fundable at £40bn) you would need to close Heathrow and MAKE the airlines move. That would leave 80,000 people in West London without a job after the closure of their employment source.

  • Comment number 90.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    They could reshuffle the whole of the shadow cabinet in and nothing much would change.

    The global economy is broken, our political system is broken and the majority of the electorate are fools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The PM could shuffle the whole cabinet out and it wouldn't help. I then look at the Labour alternative and that scares me just as much.
    I'm hard pressed to find a current political party or politician that I would trust to take us forward. Were all doomed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Bravo Boris! Get all those unemployed who are recieving benefits to build an airport in east London - Kill two birds with one stone

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Who?

    If these changes dont undermine the Coalition I will eat Tim Yeo's mouse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    After feeling so positive about this country following the Olympics and with the Paralympics I feel so thoroughly depressed at the realisation that the UK is such a terrible example of Democracy. This government is a reason for immense shame in the international community.

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    From article - "IDS knows that he's popular with many who campaign for the poor."

    What? He's popular with campaigners for the poor? This is Earth isn't it or is it some parrallel universe? In December he's going to force disabled and sick to work for free or lose most of their benefit and leave them with £30 per week, when his own department has already judged them too diabled or sick to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Just when you thought that Dave's coalition couldn't get any more inept... Hunt goes to Health (DC either has no connection with reality or simply enjoys rubbing salt into wounds?) and Laws gets a ministerial post which instantly trashes all Dave's 'moral outrage' over the expenses scandal. GIGO


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