Michael Gove returns to cabinet in Theresa May’s reshuffle
Most positions unchanged as George Osborne calls May ‘dead woman walking’
Anti-Conservative Party and anti-DUP demonstrators in Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in London on Sunday. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, has appointed Damian Green, one of her closest political allies, as her second-in-command, in a cabinet reshuffle that also saw the return of Michael Gove but left most positions unchanged.
Mr Green, who will have the title first secretary of state, and Ms May have been friends since their university days, when both became involved in politics. A lifelong pro-European, he was an ardent campaigner for Britain to remain in the European Union during last year’s referendum.
Mr Gove, who clashed with Ms May when they were in David Cameron’s cabinet, returns as environment secretary, replacing Andrea Leadsom. Ms Leadsom, who initially challenged Ms May for the party leadership before pulling out in July 2016, becomes the new leader of the Commons.
Justice secretary Liz Truss, who won notoriety when she failed to defend judges from attacks in the media last year, has been demoted to chief secretary to the treasury.
Almost all other ministers were confirmed in their current posts, a reflection of the prime minister’s diminished authority after the Conservatives lost their majority in last week’s election. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Sunday dismissed newspaper reports that he was preparing to challenge Ms May for the Conservative leadership.
Mail on Sunday tripe - I am backing Theresa may. Let's get on with the job— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 10, 2017
Former chancellor George Osborne, however, dismissed her as a “dead woman walking”, asserting that it was only a matter of time before she would have to go.
Some Conservative MPs have expressed concern about the prospect of a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), citing the party’s socially conservative positions on LGBT rights and abortion. Defence secretary Michael Fallon said the DUP would support the government on big votes but would have no influence on social issues.
Change of style
Mr Fallon said the prime minister had acknowledged the need for a change of style from the tightly-controlled approach to government she has adopted until now.
“Clearly a minority government requires a different approach. You have already seen some changes of personnel in Downing Street. I welcome that, of course,” he told the BBC.
“We are going to see, I hope, more collective decision-making in the cabinet. I and other senior colleagues have made that clear to her. I think you will also see that she will want to work much more closely with the parliamentary party both in the conduct of business and the development of policy.”
The cabinet reshuffle came as a new poll from Survation, the company which predicted the election outcome most accurately, put Labour ahead of the Conservatives. The poll, which put Labour on 45 per cent and the Conservatives on 39 per cent, found that 49 per cent of people believe Ms May should resign, with 38 per cent saying she should remain in the post.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would reach out to critics in the party when he appoints a new shadow cabinet but shadow chancellor John McDonnell sounded a note of caution about changing the current team.
“Our shadow cabinet at the moment was a winning team,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday. “It just won effectively votes that no one predicted that we would, so I don’t want to break up that winning team.”