It has been something of a relief for the reshuffle to dominate the political headlines today – pushing aside Labour’s woes for at least a few hours.
I spent several hours yesterday in Parliament either side of a meeting to capture the mood from all parties. I probably got to speak to about 25-30 MPs from Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties. Unfortunately it would be wrong to share too many insights and betray their trust.. But the flavour of what was said will help filter some posts over the coming days. As I was passing from Portcullis in the House I saw Theresa May leave in her car and the support vehicles heading to the Palace. A little later she returned into Downing Street as our new PM. We have a very BRITISH way of doing these things.
It may seem strange to describe Reshuffles as exciting. They are much easier to enjoy as an outsider looking in with some sense of what the tension feels like in the air. It’s always fun to phone a ministerial hopeful with ‘number withheld’ on a day like this. It’s amazing how many people pretend to have no interest in being a Minister – but their heart misses a beat every time the phone rings today and tomorrow.
I have been with other ‘public affairs’ types today so we have been checking our phones every few minutes to see who has been sacked, promoted, moved sideways or just plain ignored (the worst feeling!) Although Ministers claim to have little power there are those of us now outside of power who need to know who we will be working with , lobbying, persuading to our causes and ambitions of the sector. It usually takes months (if not years) of hard work cultivating a relationship with a Minister to see your point of view all comes crashing down with one phone call from No10. Today I have especially been looking out for DCMS and International Devlopment. I have also been interested in DCLG (for Llep and devolution) and BiS (for the Sports Business Council).The changing of a Minister can make a difference of ‘tone’ in a department almost immediately and even before details of new policy directions and pet projects start to emerge. Having KAREN BRADLEY at DCMS and Priti Patel at DfID sends out some clear signals. I am not sure Patel shows much sign of supporting the DfID agenda, so we will have to see what that means.
Although today has all been about the newsworthy cabinet ministers, most of our daily work is with the Junior Ministers. For me it would be ideal if Tracey Crouch remained at DCMS as Sport Minister – I have just finished my CSP review for her new Sports Strategy! I have received plenty of nervous messages from across the sport sector wondering what this might all mean. Until we have all the detail it really it too early to say.
But what a reshuffle. It certainly has created plenty of surprises with some big names bein sacked. Gove and his supporters seem to have been the biggest losers. Politics can be a cruel business if you back the wrong horse! The choice of Boris at the Foreign Office seems to have created the biggest reaction. I am not a fan of Boris and took a sweapstake today on the first day for apologies..
Many are speculating as to whether this is a super smart move – creating a weaker post of Foregn Secretary and then sending Borsi abroad and out of the way for 4 years! The same can be said for other leading BREXITeers – given roles to make a mess or success of their wishes. There were a couple of surprises like Stephen Crabb – hopefully we will see him back in the Parliamentary rugby team again soon wth a little more time on his hands.
I am sure tomorrow will be dominated by news about the Junior Minsters. I know as a sad political geek I will be watching closely.
However, once this has settled won I am sure I can return to the Labour leadership battle as the timetable and process becomes clear and the runners start to set out their stall.