Wales politics

Analysis: Tories lobby for Welsh MP to replace Gillan

David Jones with Cheryl Gillan
Image caption David Jones, the Clwyd West MP, could be promoted within the Wales Office

Welsh Conservatives have been mounting a behind-the-scenes campaign to ensure that Downing Street does not appoint another English MP to the Wales Office if Cheryl Gillan is replaced in the coming reshuffle.

There is mounting speculation that David Cameron's first major reshuffle as Prime Minister will take place within the next fortnight - and that Mrs Gillan's position as Welsh Secretary could be under threat.

Cardiff-born Mrs Gillan represents the Home Counties seat of Chesham and Amersham in Parliament, a fact which has been used against her by political opponents since she was appointed Shadow Welsh Secretary before the 2010 general election.

Should Mr Cameron decide to replace her, one of the leading names being put forward in recent months has been Maria Miller, the MP for Basingstoke, who is highly regarded at Westminster.

Mrs Miller spent part of her upbringing in Wales, even attending the same Bridgend comprehensive school as First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Image caption Maria Miller has been tipped as a possible replacement for Cheryl Gillan

However, influential figures in the Welsh party are adamant that a new holder of the post must come from among the eight Welsh Conservative MPs in Parliament. Many now believe that their lobbying has paid off, and that this will indeed be the case.

The likely favourite if Mr Cameron heeds their advice is a promotion to the Cabinet for Mrs Gillan's deputy, Wales Office Minister David Jones, the MP for Clwyd West.

Were David Jones to move from the Wales Office to another government role, then the Welsh MP most likely to land Mrs Gillan's role would be the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, currently a whip.

Any movement will be watched closely by the Welsh government, as the links between Cardiff Bay and Westminster remain crucial right across policy areas.

Relations between the two have been strained in recent months, most notably over the Wales Office proposals to alter the assembly's voting system.

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