Hunt's apparent refusal to go in Cabinet reshuffle 'extraordinary'

Olive Hawkins
January 13, 2018

The most high-profile cabinet ministers all kept their jobs in the reshuffle, in which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is believed to have persuaded the PM to keep him in post with a beefed-up role rather than move him to another department.

In what had been billed as a chance to reset and refresh the Government, Prime Minister Theresa May left all senior Cabinet ministers in place and failed to move a swathe of middle-ranking members who had been widely reported to be facing the axe.

After Greening dramatically quit the frontbench in a move that Downing Street described as "disappointing", Damian Hinds found himself catapulted into the post of education secretary.

Speaking on the 's Daily Politics, new Conservative deputy chairman James Cleverly said he was not anxious about the hostile newspaper headlines generated by the reshuffle.

According to The Sun newspaper, May wanted Hunt, who has been health secretary for five years, to move to become business secretary.

Greg Clark also retained his position as Business Secretary amid speculation he could be sacked, and Downing Street announced Claire Perry would also attend Cabinet as minister of state at the business department.

In an official statement, DUP leader Arlene Foster said Brokenshire had "immersed himself fully in the role [of Northern Ireland secretary] by dedicating long hours to trying to make progress".

Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling are tipped as possible names to replace Damian Green as first secretary of state.

Sajid Javid had his responsibility for housing added to his Cabinet title in a sign of the issue's increasing political importance.

Matthew Hancock replaces Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary.

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Nearly half (48 per cent) of the new cabinet attended Oxbridge, an increase compared to Theresa May's first cabinet in 2016 (44 per cent), but still lower than David Cameron's 2015 cabinet (50 per cent).

James Brokenshire steps down as Northern Ireland Secretary for health reasons. His own education background could prove pertinent in his new role, with Theresa May known to support setting up new grammar schools, while his predecessor Justine Greening was opposed.

It's a key role both for Brexit and the stability of May's minority government as it will involve delicate negotiations over the Irish border and devolved government with the Democratic Unionist Party, whose lawmakers prop up the government after May lost her majority in June's vote.

May's Cabinet has been carefully constructed to balance those like Hammond who want to keep a close economic relationship with the European Union, and those like Johnson who argue for a cleaner break.

And Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss also stays in post.

David Mundell is appointed again as Scottish Secretary.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox all remain in the same jobs.

The Prime Minister finally completed her shake-up of her frontbench with the appointment of six women to the whips' office.

"Today's headlines are what they are - tomorrow and onwards we will be getting the really important stuff which is about what we are doing, what we are delivering in government".

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park stays on as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords.

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