Brexit: Who Will Feature in a May Government?

The May Cabinet

The end of David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister will necessitate the largest reshuffle since the 2010 election, with many of the senior offices of state changing.

May has a delicate balancing act on her hands if the competing Tory tribes are to remain unified during what will be an incredibly challenging period for the new Prime Minister. Around the Cabinet table she needs to accommodate senior Brexit supporters, fellow leadership challengers and those MPs who supported her campaign.

She will need to appoint the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Chancellor and the minister to lead the new Brexit department very soon after entering Downing Street on Wednesday, with other appointments likely to follow on Thursday.

There is a considerable amount of speculation in the media today and it is impossible to know exactly what will emerge but these are some of the central rumours:

  • Philip Hammond is heavily tipped to become Chancellor. Osborne is unlikely to stay. May’s speeches so far have departed heavily from his economic orthodoxy and his continued presence at HMT would be unacceptable to many backbenchers. Hammond is trusted and seen as a safe pair of hands.
  • Osborne could go to the Foreign Office. The formation of a Brexit department means that EU negotiations would be out of his hands but another Remainer in one of the top jobs may not be viable. If he doesn’t go to the Foreign Office he is likely to leave Government.
  • Liam Fox is tipped for a top role and is known to favour the Foreign Office brief. He has good connections in America and the Commonwealth and could be well placed to reform the FCO.
  • David Davis and Chris Grayling appear as the frontrunners to head the new Brexit Department. May has been clear that the role will to go to a prominent Brexit supporter at a senior Secretary of State level. Grayling is written up positively by the press today and he should get a prominent job having chaired May’s leadership bid.
  • Jane Ellison or Amber Rudd could go to Health. There has been considerable speculation about who will get this role but there is consensus that Jeremy Hunt will go.
  • Rudd is also tipped to move to the Home Office. Michael Fallon, who has a reputation as a safe pair of hands could also get the role.
  • There is likely to be a change at Education. It will be a priority Department in the May administration and is likely to be taken by a tough minister capable of driving through the academy programme.
  • Sajid Javid may move from the Business Department and could go to Transport. May’s speech yesterday outlined a different approach at BIS, reviving a ‘proper industrial strategy’ which would make it difficult for Javid to stay in that role having dropped his predecessor’s interventionist approach.
  • There is mixed briefing about Michael Gove. There is no doubt that his stock has fallen. There are suggestions that he could get the chop or stay at Justice to continue his prison reform programme. He is an outside bet for the Brexit department.
  • Other leadership contenders Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb are both tipped for Cabinet positions. Leadsom could take the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs brief where there are a number of EU related matters to unwind or be promoted within DECC.
  • Crabb could stay at DWP although Brexit backer Priti Patel could be promoted from within the department with Crabb moving.
  • It is quite possible that Boris Johnson won’t take a Cabinet role. Johnson is unlikely to want anything but one of the most senior Cabinet positions so whilst he may be offered Culture, Media and Sport it is not certain he’d accept it.


Other names in the frame

  • Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire, and Damian Green all worked in the Home Office, are close to May and could be in line for senior jobs.
  • Margot James as Foreign Office Minister.
  • Harriet Baldwin as senior Treasury Minister, alongside Alok Sharma.
  • Alan Duncan, Brandon Lewis, Michael Ellis, Gavin Williamson, Sam Gyimah, Richard Harrington and Gavin Williamson could get senior ministerial roles following their support for the May campaign


The Downing Street operation

There are likely to be significant changes at No.10 as many of Cameron’s long standing aides depart with him to be replaced by a close knit group of advisers who are fiercely loyal to the new Prime Minister.

Nick Timothy, May’s former Chief of Staff andFiona Hill, her former special adviser are likely to oversee the No.10 operation.

Former policy adviser and Vote Leave staffer Stephen Parkinson will get a senior role. May’s current special adviser’s Will Tanner and Alex Dawson are also tipped to follow the Prime Minister to Downing Street.

Liz Sanderson, May’s media spokesperson during the campaign and Katie Perrior who worked for May at CCHQ in the early 2000’s are likely to form part of the external communications team. Former Sky journalist Joey Jones could act as the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman.

By Lexington Communications

Featured Image: UK Home Office