By Jack Parker
Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle was supposed to give the government a new image for the New Year. It was meant to be her opportunity to stamp her authority after a disastrous 2017 – yet it proved shambolic, and ultimately a little pointless.
The chaos started to unfurl as the Prime Minister’s Twitter account accidentally revealed that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling would become the new Conservative Party chairman, only for former barrister Brandon Lewis to be given the role an hour later.
Despite initial speculation that she might be sacked, Amber Rudd, who only scraped a victory in the last election, remained as Home Secretary, as did Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
It was instead Education Secretary Justine Greening who became the biggest casualty, opting to resign rather than move to the Department of Work and Pensions. That role was instead assigned to Esther McVey, who only returned to the Commons last year following her defeat in the 2015 election. Meanwhile, Sam Gymiah has become the new Universities Minister, replacing Jo Johnson, who was allegedly sacked for not acting decisively enough during the Toby Young scandal.
Damian Green’s sacking last December left the roles of First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office vacant – his replacement in the latter is David Lidington, who in 2009 claimed double his salary as an MP in expenses. Mrs May decided not to award the optional role of First Secretary of State.
But perhaps Mrs May’s most controversial move was deciding to keep Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary. He had been widely expected to be removed from the role, but after his refusal to stand down and a reportedly passionate argument to stay, Mrs May made another of her now-trademark U-turns.
As night fell in Westminster, Jeremy Hunt, who has struggled to keep the NHS ticking over throughout its now-annual Winter Crisis, had somehow ended up with an even greater role – he’s now in charge of the nation’s Social Care as well.
Photograph: ‘Damian Hinds’ via Flickr