Cagey May's limp shake-up hardly worth the hassle
It was supposed to signal a sea change, the moment when Theresa May restored her authority and showed the British public that this version of the Tories ain’t quite dead yet.
Cabinet reshuffles are usually about the gaffer asserting power, but this one appeared to stop just short of Mrs May fleeing Number 10 in a fast car, her suitcases stuffed into the boot.
As we already suspected, those holding the majority of the top positions are too strong – and too dangerous as far as the PM is concerned – to push out.
Attempting to oust a Boris or a Hammond was never an option for Mrs May, who after her general election calamity has now returned to her default position of ‘safety first’.
And let’s face it, when Jeremy Hunt is able to persuade you not only that he should keep his job but that it should be expanded, then you are in serious trouble.
It means that aside from Justine Greening’s unwelcome decision to leave the Government, this has been a reshuffle almost devoid of major talking points. The ‘rabbit out of the hat’ moment never came.
Don’t forget this was billed as the time for talented new performers to be brought into the cabinet.
There was talk of changing the gender balance in a bid to embrace a brave new dawn.
But the result is that Mrs May now has a Cabinet containing more men than before, more ministers from privately educated backgrounds, and more ministers who represent constituencies in the South East.
All is not quite lost for Mrs May’s administration, as some high-quality operators have been promoted to the lower ministerial ranks, not least Stourbridge MP Margot James.
But there is no escaping the fact that this reshuffle smacks of a football manager allowing the players to dictate team selection.
Think back to this time last year when the PM was flying high.
That would have been the time for a proper clear out, rather than this week’s limp shake-up.
Mrs May probably thinks she has steadied the ship. She will no doubt say she has fashioned a Government for the future.
It hardly seems worth the hassle.