The likely motives behind the Cabinet reshuffle

Michael Gove's spat with Theresa May may have cost him his department, but his closeness to George Osborne and the PM keeps him in Cabinet. Photo: Oli Scarff/PA Archive

Some thoughts on reshuffle day:

  • It is hard to sell the idea that Michael Gove moving from Education Secretary to Chief Whip is anything but a sideways move, or even a demotion. Punishment for the outbursts of his special adviser, one might say, and even for his own sometimes tangled dealings with enemies (such as Theresa May). But given how close he is to both David Cameron and George Osborne, there is probably more to it than that. In an election year, the PM wants his closest allies very close indeed and putting both Gove and William Hague in relative non jobs (given that there is no legislation going through the house) makes sense.
  • Only a cynic would point out that making Michael Gove the Chief Whip puts him in pole position to assist George Osborne in any future bid for the leadership.
  • It is clear that hell would have frozen over before either the PM or the Chancellor allowed Theresa May into the Foreign Office, the third most high-profile job in government after their own.
Does Esther McVey's move off message explain why lower profile figures rose above her in the female-led Cabinet reshuffle? Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
  • In general, I make it the disciplinarian reshuffle. If you annoyed Dave over the past few years, you got the bullet. If you toed the line, you moved up. Esther McVey only got a 'sort of' promotion, chiefly, I suspect, because she went off message on Maria Miller. Liz Truss and Nicky Morgan, both lower profile figures, moved on up past her in the tougher Cabinet jobs.
  • A great deal of white middle-aged males were culled. Given that the parliamentary party is mostly made of white middle-aged males, this should be popular.
  • The Government will look and feel different, particularly when it comes to who they choose to push out onto the airwaves. This was clearly the point of it.

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