[Updated below 14th July] Prime Minister Theresa May has started as she clearly means to go on:
- laying out the priorities for her administration – putting at the forefront of policy-making social justice and the needs of those ‘who are just about managing’, speaking directly to them as ‘you’ – promising to ‘give you more control of your lives’;
- being unequivocally upfront about her determination to keep the British union together, offering for the first time a Westminster politician [and the most powerful one] who will clearly fight to do just that;
- creating a cabinet team very much her own, a fair, strategic and imaginative balance of Remainers and Brexiteers, well fitted for the responsibilities which she has asked them to take on.
Chancellor: May apparently told George Osborne straight up that she did not want him in her government and made Philip Hammond Chancellor, a Remainer and respected by the Treasury.
Foreign Secretary: She then made key Brexiteer Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary – a surprise, imaginative and typically fair choice, recovering a career that had seemed destroyed by the scheming Michael Gove on manoeuvres. Johnson is essentially urbane and a linguist – speaking Russian as well as French – each likely to prove of seminal value to Britain in the years to come in this post.
Home Office: Another good appointment in Amber Rudd – a Remainer made to Mrs May’s own template – ferociously well informed, serious, hard working and unlikely to back away or down on tough issues.
Defence: Michael Fallon, a Remainer, kept in position – calm, steady and doesn’t frighten the horses – or the riders – an important characteristic at defence.
International Trade: Liam Fox, trusted by May and a Brexiteer, is a safe but not energising choice in a key post for post-Brexit Britain – a new Ministry signalling commitment to looking outward.
Brexit Secretary: An inspired choice in the very able David Davis, a Brexiteer whose abilities have never really been put to good use in office. David Davis should very capably lead the Brexit negotiations with the EU – and May’s ‘appointments on merit’ stance holds up here since she has had run ins with Davis but has put his capability first.
More appointments will be made known tomorrow morning.
Update 14th July: After last night’s appointments, the logic dictated the Michael Gove would be out. Theresa May is clearly not only selecting on ability and putting the right talents in the right places but is building a cabinet team where internal trust is vital.
With George Osborne given the bullet and with three eminent Brexiteers in critical frontline jobs, it seemed certain that there would be no room for Gove in the team – and this has been shown to be the case.
Cameron’s replacement of Gove at Education, Nicky Morgan, has also gone – again on merit as a politician with more mouth than reason and with overweeningly unrealistic ambitions. Morgan had been in Education for minutes before she was touting herself as a contender for party leadership and the occupancy of Number 10.