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  1. ITV Report

Call for a Welsh MP to take over if Cheryl Gillan goes

A fond farewell? Cheryl Gillan and David Cameron exchange kisses. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/Press Association Images

With MPs back at Westminster today after their summer recess, speculation about an imminent cabinet reshuffle is now rife. Only when the Prime Minister starts inviting his cabinet colleagues to slip in through the back door of Number 10 to collect their P45s will facts start to replace rumours, as MPs clutch their phones hoping to emerge from Downing Street as cabinet ministers.

Ever since the rumour mill started grinding, the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has seen her name on most speculative lists about who's for the chop. A lot of that has been due to Westminster commentators not paying much attention to how the Welsh Secretary is performing but seeing her as vulnerable to any attempt to make room for fresh faces around the cabinet table.

Welsh Tory backbenchers generally think Cheryl Gillan has done a pretty good job, delivering the referendum on the Assembly's powers and securing electrification of the London to Swansea railway and the Valleys lines. Relations with the Welsh Government are not great but it is hard to see how replacing the Welsh Secretary with another MP from an English seat would improve matters.

The replacement most often mentioned is Maria Miller, who like Cheryl Gillan has Welsh roots but represents a constituency in the London commuter belt. She went to the same comprehensive school as Carwyn Jones but was a few years ahead of the First Minister. More relevant is that she has become one of the Westminster ministers that Welsh Labour loves to hate. In her current job, she has overseen the closure of most of Remploy's factories in Wales.

Welsh Conservative MPs don't like the implication that none of them are up to the job but they are all either backbenchers or in the junior ranks of the government. Unlike Maria Miller, none of them are ministers of state, just one rung below cabinet. The three most often mentioned are Cheryl Gillan's deputy, David Jones, who's an under-secretary of state, Stephen Crabb, who's an assistant whip, and Jonathan Evans, who held three junior posts in John Major's government.

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