Following Damian Green’s sacking, Peter Divey asks when the Brexit Secretary will deliver on his promise to resign. He also examines who the runners and riders would be in a cabinet reshuffle.
Damian Green has fallen on his own sword. But did he fall voluntarily? In his resignation letter, he pointedly states his regret at being asked to resign, feeling that he should have been able to continue. This is a sacking, for I am certain that is what would have happened if he had refused to go. The Cabinet Secretary’s report had made Green’s situation more than difficult. He was dismissed for lying. This leads us onto another scenario. David Davis had said that he would resign if Green was sacked. So, does this mean that Davis will go? Of course not, because this is precisely why Green did resign, even if clearly grudgingly.
There is no urgency to replace the First Secretary of State. This hasn’t happened suddenly and events appear to be under the control of the Prime Minster who will consider her next move. She has lost her closest ally and will not rush ahead and already it has been said that no reshuffle is pending. Early in the New Year maybe? But this gives us a delicious opportunity to play our own fantasy reshuffle game. Green was a pro-EU, Tory centrist with more than a hint of the May’s social justice ethic. Leavers like me will be hoping for a pro-Brexit replacement to deliver a more balanced Cabinet that is more in line with the referendum result.
Rees-Mogg shout the leavers camp, but the Prime Minister wouldn’t offer it and Rees-Mogg wouldn’t take it. He just doesn’t agree with May’s fundamentally convergent EU-light Brexit offering. May would want someone who is at least behind her Brexit concept and who she feels is an ally and reliable confidant.
May is cautious, the one time she was adventurous, she lost a Tory majority. Once bitten twice shy. Phillip Hammond will be offered the vacant post. He already seems crucial parts of the show, so why not? But he will decline? Amber Rudd will be taken on and will be relieved to move from one of the more thankless tasks in Cabinet. Their shared experience as Home Secretary can only help.
None of the current Cabinet would want to move to fill the Rudd vacancy, so who? David Lidington is making a pig’s ear of things at Justice. There seems to be a prison riot every month. But he is well liked and the move should consolidate his status even if some persuasion is needed, and there will have been some cross-talk with the two roles.
I would replace Lidington with Graham Brady; One of the few conviction MPs left. He could only do a better job. Theresa May should really use this opportunity to completely refresh the Cabinet, but that will not happen. The Labour opposition will call out another Minister falling on her watch, bit May will plod on, as if on a walking tour in flattest Norfolk, she will be strong and stable. Just don’t expect dynamism.