I think it is a team that reflects modern Britain and it is by reflecting all of modern Britain that we will get the best for our country.
The Prime Minister, who had won on the slogan of ‘Change’ 4 years ago, hadn’t really delivered in such footings within his Cabinet – at least until last Tuesday. As with the changes and rapid in-and-out interviews that occurred in Number 10, let’s get straight down to business.
Mr Cameron’s thoughts into his reshuffle were deliberate and smart. 40 new appointments and 10 more women saw a younger, eurosceptical Cabinet that was tailored to impress the electorate next year.
Ken Clarke, Minister without portfolio, who first entered Parliament in the 70s before floppy disks were invented, leaves behind an illustrious career, for now at least, hinting that he may still run again next year to push for his pro-EU agenda.
Despite Cameron’s plea, former leader William Hague was the most senior minister to step-down from his position as Foreign Secretary, stating his end to politics and a final quiet year as Leader of the Commons, still reserving him a seat in Number 10.
The biggest surprise came in the form of the Michael Gove, who seemed to have been punished by Cameron with three of the UK’s largest teachers’ unions all showing him a vote of no confidence in response to him wanting to replace GCSEs, creating a single examination board and omitting all but English works in literature classes. Added to by his public dispute with Theresa May, this could be seen as his second major fall in Downing Street. The former Education Secretary has been moved to become the chief whip, charged with keeping Tory MPs in line and voting in accordance to the Prime Minister’s liking, also expected to deliver the on the Conservative’s election campaign for next year.
This would suggest that the Prime Minister wanted to rid his most controversial ministers, also perhaps seen as the Conservatives most radical reformers, such as former Health Minister Andrew Lansley who pushed for the White Paper abolishing of NHS primary care trusts and Universitiers and pro-£9,000 tuition fees minister David Willetts.
Other demotions, or “resignations” (i.e. those who jumped before being pushed), include Owen Paterson, David Jones, Nick Hurd, Greg Barker, Damien Green, Dominic Grieve, Sir George Young, Alan Duncan, Hugh Robertson, Andrew Robathan, Oliver Heald and Stephen Hammond.
The biggest surprise to remain in the Cabinet was former leader and bedroom tax-issuer Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary. George Osborne and Theresa May, Chancellor and Home Secretary respectively, keep their posts in a day where nothing was off the table.
In terms of promotions, with the focus on more women, two gained the highest reward: Nicky Morgan was moved from the Treasury to replace Gove as Education Secretary and Liz Truss replaced Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary.
Philip Hammond became the new Foreign Secretary, replacing Hague who takes Lansley’s job as leader of the Commons, who in turn was replaced by Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary.
Sajid Javid and Esther Mcvey, two of the Conservatives most popular rising stars, even tipped future leaders by some, both failed to gain a closer seat to David Cameron, although Mcvey is now allowed into the room as a member of the Cabinet, under the same portfolio nonetheless.
In a surprise move, unfamiliar Lord Hill, ex-leader of the House of Lords, is nominated by Mr Cameron to head towards Brussels to become the UK’s next European Commissioner.
Cameron’s new team of 26 still sees ten multi-millionaires, 19 Oxbridge graduates, 26 per cent women, 65 per cent privately schooled and one ethnic minority. Progress to represent “modern Britain” can still be made. Mr Gove best highlights all that occured over the week: “Demotion, emotion, promotion, locomotion.”
Nick Clegg chose not to reshuffle any of his ministers, however Business Minister Jo Swinson has been backed to replace Ed Davey as Energy Secretary or become the new Scottish Secretary after the independence referendum in September, which would make her the Liberal Democrat’s youngest female Cabinet Minister.
So the new Cabinet, courtesy of live updates from the Prime Minister’s twitter feed, looks much more like the one we are likely to see if the David Cameron manages to pull off a victory in next year’s election.