Ex-PM David Cameron’s closest political allies were sent to the back benches on Thursday, as newly installed Prime Minister Theresa May cleaned the slate and packed her new Cabinet with fresh blood.
Replacing the likes of George Osborne, Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, and Lord Feldman, May brought in blue collar conservatives and Brexiteer heavy-weights.
May picked her top team early on, making Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond Chancellor, and Amber Rudd Home Secretary.
In an attempt to placate both Leave and Remain campaigners, the old school and Tory modernizers, May hired David Davis and Liam Fox to be her Brexit and international trade ministers.
Davis is a well-known Euroskeptic and a fierce opponent of surveillance laws. He currently has a case in the European courts against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 – a bill introduced by Theresa May herself.
Fox went head to head with May during the Conservative leadership race, but, unlike fellow Brexiteer Angela Leadsom, he was awarded with a hefty portfolio. His exact job function is not yet clear, but given the incoming task of negotiating Britain’s departure from the EU, Fox’s role may turn out to be among the new Cabinet’s most influential.
Also basking in May’s good favor are Liz Truss and Justine Greening. The former agriculture and international development ministers now head up Justice and Education, respectively, matching the expectation of more women in top jobs. Importantly, Greening is the first Education Secretary in Westminster history to have attended a state school. Both women campaigned for Remain.
May’s embrace of the blue collar Tory came in the form of Patrick McLoughlin, a former miner, and apparently a scab who crossed the picket line during the strike of 1984. McLoughlin was reshuffled from transport to the role of Chairman of the Conservative Party – a job formerly belonging to Cameron’s university friend, neighbor, and campaign fundraiser Lord Feldman.
Controversially, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt held on to his portfolio, despite his ongoing dispute with junior doctors over pay and conditions. There were early reports that the multimillionaire had been dropped from the frontbench team, but they were later proved baseless. The South West Surrey MP reacted to the confusion by paraphrasing Mark Twain: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
The only other minister to keep his brief is Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, whose political contributions to the past government were modest. He lives to fight another day.
The biggest losers in the reshuffleare easy to spot. Infamous Brexiteer, leadership candidate, and Boris-backstabber Michael Gove was sent packing, as was George Osborne, the chancellor of six years. Both were seen as liabilities in a government May seems determined to start afresh.
A fellow casualty was education secretary Nicky Morgan, who reportedly had not expected the move. Her support for Michael Gove during the leadership race may have something to do with it. Greening now inherits the Department for Education, with the added control of universities nabbed from the now-defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Disappointed not to be continuing as Education Secretary & Min for Women & Equalities – two wonderful roles it’s been a privilege to hold
— Nicky Morgan (@NickyMorgan01) July 14, 2016
One time leadership hopeful Stephen Crabb proved he didn’t wait to be pushed, choosing instead to resign while claiming it would be “in the best interests of [his] family.” The comment was received as an admission of guilt by the press after Crabb was exposed in The Times apparently “sexting” women other than his wife.
Former culture secretary John Whittingdale was also sent packing. Apparently he won’t be missed by the media industry. The man responsible for reforming the BBC left his post to “whoops and cheers” from the Corporation’s newsroom, according to a tweet by a BBC journalist. Ed Ram later claimed he was joking, but the tweet was deleted all the same.
The saddest MP of all must be Andrea Leadsom, however, who came close to beating May to the top job before dropping out of the leadership race early in the week. In what could be interpreted as a snub, the fox hunting supporter and climate change doubter is now responsible for the rather obscure Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).