May’s Cabinet – Shaken or Stirred?

May wasted no time in forming her new Government. Below is a profile of the new Cabinet figures.

Yesterday was a memorable day in the history of the United Kingdom. Before formally resigning with an audience of the Her Majesty the Queen, David Cameron took part in his last Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, and made his last statement outside Number 10.

Theresa May then began the process of taking over, starting with a visit to Buckingham Palace and an invitation from the Queen to form a Government. Arriving at Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister, she then made a speech promising to unite the country and her party, and moving her party to the centre ground of British politics, pledging to continue a programme of social justice and the life chances agenda initiated by her predecessor.

May wasted no time in beginning the process of forming a Government and the confirmed list of Cabinet appointments is as follows:

Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service – The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer – The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP

Secretary of State for the Home Department – The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Boris Johnson MP

Secretary of State for Defence – The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – The Rt Hon David Davis MP

Secretary of State for International Trade – The Rt Hon Liam Fox MP

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice – The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP

Secretary of State for Education – The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP

Chief Whip – Gavin Williamson MP

Conservative Party Chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP

Secretary of State for Health – The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Leader of the House of Lords – Baroness Evans of Bowes Park

Secretary of State for Transport – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – Rt Hon Damian Green MP

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Andrea Leadsom MP

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – Karen Bradley MP

Secretary of State for Wales – Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – The Rt Hon Greg Clark

Secretary of State for International Development – The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP

Lord President of the Council, Leader of the House of Commons – The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

Secretary of State for Scotland – The Rt Hon David Mundell MP

Also attends Cabinet:

Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict – The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE

Minister without Portfolio – The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP

Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General – Ben Gummer MP

Chief Secretary to the Treasury – David Gauke MP

Chief Whip (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury) – The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP

Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise – The Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP

Attorney General – The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP

Below is a profile of the new Cabinet appointments.

Philip Hammond – Chancellor of the Exchequer:

As widely rumoured, May’s first appointment to her Cabinet was Philip Hammond as Chancellor, a position vacated by George Osborne after he ‘resigned’ from Government, although sources at Number 10 claim he was sacked as he was seen as surplus to requirements. He tweeted shortly afterwards that it had been a privilege and “I hope I’ve left the economy in a better state than I found it.”

Hammond is good friends with May, and his loyalty has been rewarded. Shortly after becoming Chancellor, he confirmed there would be no emergency budget to deal with the economic effects of Brexit, but he will deliver an autumn statement as normal. Hammond will also be visiting the Bank of England this morning, and in a nod to the City this morning, he told Radio 4’s Today Programme “we need to ensure access to the single market for our financial services industry.”

Boris Johnson – Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:

One of the most surprising announcements last night was Boris Johnson becoming Foreign Secretary. It is clear that May’s intention is to place the ‘Brexiteers’ in the offices of State responsible for the UK’s reputation and relationships abroad, but this very fact makes the decision all the more baffling given his track record for gaffes. To be fair to Boris, he is well known abroad, and as Mayor of London, he was successful at negotiating trade deals for the city, but May herself during the leadership campaign was critical of Boris, saying “I seem to remember last time he did a deal with the Germans, he came back with three nearly-new water cannon”. It can be argued that his role has been somewhat watered down, given the international trade brief has been handed to Liam Fox and responsibility for Brexit negotiations now lies with a dedicated department.

Michael Fallon – Secretary of State for Defence:

A demonstration of continuity and stability, Michael Fallon remains in his post as Defence Secretary. Although tipped for a promotion, May is clearly happy with his record at the Ministry of Defence and has decided Fallon, who campaigned for Britain to remain a member of the EU, should keep his job which he has held since 2014.

Amber Rudd – Secretary of State for the Home Department:

Amber Rudd has had a rapid rise up the Ministerial ranks as she was only elected to the Commons in 2010. She owes the start of her ministerial career to the former chancellor George Osborne who made her his Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2012. She then became a Government whip, Minister of State and then Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change following the 2015 general election.

Like George Osborne and David Cameron, Amber comes from a privileged background (her mother was a briefly married to a Marquis) and is on the modernising left of the party. Before entering the Commons she had worked as a banker, a venture capitalist and a financial services head-hunter. 

At DECC she oversaw some of the reductions of public funding for renewable power, but also made the pledge that the Government would end coal fired energy generation by 2025, which was widely supported by environmentalists. 

It remains to be seen if she will be given the leeway to change the direction of Home Office policy to any significant extent.

David Davis – Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union:

Davis Davis is a veteran right winger. He served in the administration of John Mayor as it descended into chaotic splits over EU policy. He was a Government whip when the Maastricht Treaty was passing through the Commons and was then the Minster of State for Europe for three years.

In opposition he served was the Chairman of the Conservative Party for a while and also served as the Shadow Home Secretary. He was a candidate for the Leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 and despite being an early front runner he was defeated by David Cameron.

He has been a long term critic of David Cameron and his Government. His political career was widely considered over when he took the quixotic decision to resign as Shadow Home Secretary in 2008 and fight a by-election in his constituency over what he saw as the erosion of civil liberties following the then Labour Government’s plans to extend detention without charge for terrorist suspects. While he comfortably won the by-election he never returned to the front bench under David Cameron. A longstanding privacy campaigner, Davis was, prior to the referendum, in the process of challenging the Government in the European Court of Justice over its plans for bulk surveillance (a policy led by Theresa May as Home Secretary), so it remains to be seen how this will play out.

Earlier this week, he wrote an article on the Conservative activist’s website Conservative Home setting out his vision of Brexit which included quickly agreeing free trade deals with countries like Australia, India, and Canada, reducing red tape and taxes, and seeking to negotiate ‘tariff free’ access to the EU single market, but being willing to trade on WTO basis if no agreement was possible.

Dr Liam Fox – Secretary of State for International Trade:

Liam Fox is another venteran right winger who served in the FCO under John Major. A Scot and former GP, he also served in David Cameron’s first Government as Defence Secretary before having to resign in 2011 over a lobbying scandal associated with his friend Adam Werritty, who was judged as having been given improper access to the MOD and Dr Fox’s overseas trips.

Dr Fox was tipped to return to Government in a David Cameron reunification reshuffle if Remain won the referendum.

He is a strong Atlanticist (Werritty’s role was to run a Charity called the Atlantic Bridge focused on building relationships between the UK and the USA) and he is likely to focus on seeking new trading relationships with the USA and the Commonwealth. 

Fox was a candidate in the recent Conservative leadership election, but only gained the support of nine MPs.  During his campaign he made it clear that he saw that the leaving the EU single market was a price worth paying to give the UK more control over immigration.

Liz Truss – Justice Secretary:

Liz Truss moves in to replace Michael Gove as Justice Secretary. Truss moves from her role as head of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and will also be the first female Lord Chancellor.

Truss sat on the Justice Select Committee from 2010-2012 where she was seen to be particularly hardline on legal aid cuts and made remarks on the expensive nature of the UK legal system. However, it remains to be seen which of her predecessor’s policies she will continue. Gove had embarked on rigorous reforms which included progressive prison improvements, the abolishment of the Human Rights Act and was working to solve the impasse on legal aid professionals.

She is a vocal advocate for the single market and argued for the UK to remain in the European Union. During her tenure as deputy director at the think-tank Reform, she pushed for rigorous efforts to tackle organise crime and improve UK competitiveness. She also formed the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, which campaigns for economic reform and promotes profit-making enterprise. She had often been tipped for Education Secretary, due to her comprehensive education and service as a junior minister there during the coalition.

Justine Greening – Education Secretary:

Justine Greening moves from Department for International Development to Education. The remit of the Education department is now increased to include Higher Education and Skills (previously under BIS). No 10 has confirmed that staff from BIS working on higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and skills will move to education. Following the announcement, Greening is said to have told journalists outside Downing Street that it was her ‘perfect job’. She is one of the few education secretaries to attend a non-selective state school. She is the first openly-gay member of Cabinet and has been a key supporter of Mrs May and backed her leadership bid, for which she has now been rewarded.

As well as education secretary, she becomes the minister for women and equalities.

Gavin Williamson – Chief Whip:

Gavin Williamson has had one of the biggest promotions of the day moving from PPS to Cameron (not even a Cabinet position) to Chief Whip, despite only being elected in 2010. He has said he is ‘very privileged’ and ‘very surprised’ to have been given the role.

He is a very loyal MP, having never rebelled against the party, which may be a factor in appointing him Chief Whip. Well liked in the party, Williamson is viewed as well placed to whip the various unhappy factions of the party.

Williamson campaigned for Britain to remain in the UK before leading Theresa May’s leadership campaign. 

Patrick McLoughlin – Conservative Chairman:

Patrick McLoughlin moves from Transport Secretary to Conservative Chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy. (The latter role allows him to continue to attend Cabinet). He replaces Lord Feldman who previously said he would resign when Cameron departed.

One of the longest serving MPs in the new Cabinet, McLoughlin has been an MP since 1986 and is well liked within the party.

Jeremy Hunt – Health Secretary:

Despite rumours that Hunt had been sacked, he remains in post as Health Secretary. Hunt has held the post of health since 2012 and described the appointment as the “biggest privilege of my life”.

Although Hunt’s position had been seen as vulnerable due to his clashes with junior doctors but the decision to retain him in the role could be a sign of May’s determination to push through with NHS reforms. 

Transport Secretary – Chris Grayling:

Although widely tipped to be in line for the Minister for Brexit role, Chris Grayling has been moved to Transport Secretary where he will oversee some challenging programmes including HS2 and airport expansion. Grayling has some limited experience of the transport brief having been Shadow Transport Minister from 2005-07.

He was a staunch campaigner for Brexit, following which he led May’s leadership campaign. He is viewed as one of the biggest winners from the referendum and today’s reshuffle, following fears that he would be sacked by Cameron in the event of a remain vote.

However, he was seen to have kept his cool during the Brexit campaign and avoided personal attacks on colleagues, placing him in a good position to now bridge the gap between leavers and remainers.

Work and Pensions Secretary – Damian Green:

A former immigration minister, Damian Green held a number of junior ministerial roles in the Home Office under Theresa May from 2010 until his surprise sacking in a reshuffle in 2014. The Member for Ashford since 1997, he was a Shadow Work and Pensions spokesperson between 1998-99 but that is the only time he’d held the brief. Seen as a moderate, he is vice-president of the Tory Reform Group, of which Ken Clarke is president, which seeks to promote “One Nation Conservatism”.

On immigration control, while he said the Brexit vote showed that change is needed, he commented, “We will want skilled workers coming from Europe as we do the rest of the world and getting the balance right is clearly the key.”

In 2008 he was the subject of controversy when he was arrested as part of an investigation into alleged Home Office leaks. While no prosecution was brought, MPs were outraged at the time that police officers were allowed into his Parliamentary office without a warrant.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Andrea Leadsom:

Leadsom stood in the Conservative leadership campaign before standing aside for May. May has given her the position of Environment Secretary  in another example of her tasking Brexiters with the responsibility of delivering the UK’s departure from the EU.

In her new role Leadsom will have to manage two crucial policy areas, farming and fishing, which are heavily dependent on EU funding. This will be particularly interesting as Leadsom was one of the most prominent MPs arguing for Brexit. In the past she has raised concerns over HS2 and voted against additional support for wind farms.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Sajid Javid:

Sajid Javid goes from BIS to Communities and Local Government in an unpredictable move from May. In a straight swap with Greg Clark who transfers to the new role of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it will be seen as a demotion by many.

After launching a ‘joint ticket’ leadership bid with Stephen Crabb, Javid may have fallen out of favour with the new Prime Minister who likely prompted the resignation of Crabb from his Work and Pensions post. He also came under criticism from some quarters for his handling of the Port Talbot steel crisis in the weeks leading up to the referendum.

Javid was seen as a rising star under Cameron and oversaw the Culture, Media and Sport portfolio before moving to BIS in 2015.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – Greg Clark:

Hailing from the North East of Middlesbrough, Greg Clark is the son of a milk man and a shop assistant. Certainly on the left of his party Clark’s first political affiliations were with the Social Democratic Party, joining the Party whilst at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before joining the Conservatives in 1988.

He is widely regarded as having a keen intellect and was considered a breath of fresh air when he followed Eric Pickles into the Communities Secretary role. He is liked amongst local government and knew his cities and economic brief inside-out and was a leading light in the city deals.

He is close to Heseltine who could follow him in a supporting role. Previous to being Secretary of State at DCLG Clark was Minister for Universities, Science and Cities; Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister of State for Decentralisation.

Northern Ireland Secretary – James Brokenshire:

Having served as a junior Home Office minister under Theresa May for the last six years, James Brokenshire has now been rewarded with a ministerial position.

Brokenshire is considered a reliable minister, rather than a star performer. He takes on a sensitive brief at a difficult moment for Northern Ireland, as the UK’s vote to leave the European Union has cast doubt on border-free travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Theresa May is reported to have wanted a Remain supporter in the brief to negotiate with the Irish Government, which was strongly opposed to Brexit.

International Development Secretary – Priti Patel:

Another Brexiteer to have been handed a position in the Cabinet, Priti Patel moves from Employment Minister to International Development Secretary.

Patel is on the right of the party and once argued that DFID should be abolished so it will be interesting to see how she manages this role.

Culture Secretary – Karen Bradley:

Karen Bradley is a new face in the Cabinet replacing the controversial John Whittingdale at DCMS. Bradley is a former chartered accountant who joined parliament in 2010 and lacks extensive experience in ministerial roles. Like James Brokenshire, Karen is one of Prime Minister May’s imports from the Home Office, serving as a junior minister overseeing abuse, exploitation and crime for the last two years. She has also spent time as a junior government whip.

One of her first jobs in the post will be to complete the government review on the future of the BBC. Not for the faint-hearted.