8 am Paul Goodman reports
A small-scale cabinet reshuffle is expected today based on changes to the “apparatus of government”. Rishi Sunak apparently wants to go ahead with appointing a new party chairman. Speculation about the date shuffle raises some questions.
- Will Dominic Raab leave the government today, or can we expect more mini-shuffles in the near future?
I was told yesterday evening that Rishi Sunak’s desire for due process currently outweighs his desire for a tidy mess. In other words, the Deputy Prime Minister’s investigation of Adam Tolley is not complete; so as not to come for some time; So the PM will keep the RAB in the Cabinet for the time being…and one more minor change in case the Deputy Prime Minister’s report is not clear. But we will see.
- How big will the shuffle be?
The the sun Claims that the business department can be merged (or rather re-merged) with commerce; Digital can move into it and culture, media and sport can leave; And a new power category can be created (or rather recreated).
That number would make sense. There can be up to 21 full cabinet members and the Lord Chancellor. There are currently 20 plus Lord Chancellors. Merging Business and Commerce would bring the total down to 19 plus Lord Chancellors – so making room for a new Energy Secretary and a new Conservative Party Chairman (presumably as a minister without portfolio.)
Sunak promised a separate energy department and market reform and a new energy security committee to cut future bills during his leadership election campaign.
Although the Prime Minister went to COP27 (late), climate change is not on her top five priorities, and was not really in her New Year’s speech. An energy department without climate change in the title – or perhaps even with it – would signal a shift from green policies to energy security. The Conservative Environment Network is in trouble. And some would ask whether any sort of institutional change amounts to more than a deckchair shift.
As actions so results. A trade and commerce department? Sounds remarkably like the old Department of Commerce and Industry. (Creation of the Heath Premiership.) Power division? Sounds like another product of the Heath era.
- Who will be the chairman of the Conservative Party?
We are at the familiar stage of events where journalists are writing each other’s guesses. Among the names being revealed for promotions in the Matthew Parker Street and new categories are Grant Shapps, Penny Mordant and Greg Hands. Michelle Donelan will soon be taking maternity leave.
Shapps was previously chairman, sharing the post with Andrew Feldman in the run-up to the 2015 general election: his brief leadership bid last summer emphasized his campaign credentials. Hands has served as an energy minister (and is also a combative campaigner).
It would be surprising if at least one of the three posts didn’t go to a woman, and of course the trade already has one: Kemi Badenoch. I wouldn’t be surprised if another Sunak loyalist, Liam Fox, returns to the Cabinet in the pre-election, and for that matter Simon Clarke, formerly a member of the Trus Cabinet but unfazed by the mini-budget episode.