Portrait of the week

The Cabinet reshuffle that exploded in Theresa May’s face

13 January 2018

9:00 AM

13 January 2018

9:00 AM

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Theresa May, the Prime Minister, tried to shuffle her cabinet, but Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, refused to become Business Secretary and stayed put with the words ‘Social Care’ added to his title. Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, had ‘Housing’ tacked on to his. Justine Greening spent three hours with Mrs May and emerged without her job as Education Secretary, having turned down Work and Pensions, which went to Esther McVey. David Lidington was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, taking over tasks that had been performed by Damian Green, and was replaced as the sixth Justice Secretary in six years by David Gauke, the first solicitor to be made Lord Chancellor. Education went to Damian Hinds, who was replaced as Employment Minister by Alok Sharma, who was replaced as Housing Minister by Dominic Raab, who was replaced as Justice Minister by Rory Stewart, who was replaced as Africa Minister by Harriett Baldwin. James Brokenshire resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary on genuine health grounds, to be replaced by Karen Bradley, whose secretaryship at Digital, Culture, Media and Sport went to Matt Hancock. The shuffle brought above 50 per cent the proportion of Oxbridge-educated Cabinet ministers. Mrs May said the Government now looked ‘more like the country it serves’.

The Conservative party’s official Twitter account congratulated Chris Grayling on his appointment as party chairman, only for Brandon Lewis to be appointed, in succession to Sir Patrick McLoughlin. James Cleverly became his deputy and nine vice-chairman were appointed, including Kemi Badenoch, given responsibility for appointing candidates, and Maria Caulfield, who opposes legalising abortion for non-medical reasons beyond 24 weeks, given responsibility for women.


Carrie Gracie resigned as BBC China editor, reverting to newsroom duties and rejecting an offer of a £45,000 rise to her £135,000 salary, in the face of what she called ‘unlawful pay discrimination’. Peter Preston, editor of the Guardian from 1975 to 1995, died aged 79. Toby Young resigned from his new appointment at the Board of the Office for Students after a Twitter storm resurrected old bad-taste jokes that he had made. Meghan Markle, the fiancée of Prince Harry, closed her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. An updated Ministerial Code published by the Cabinet Office said: ‘Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.’ Virgin Trains stopped selling the Daily Mail on its West Coast route due to ‘concern raised by colleagues’ about the Mail’s view on ‘issues such as immigration, LGBT rights and unemployment’, an executive said. A series of recruitment advertisements asked questions such as ‘Can I be gay in the Army?’

Abroad

President Donald Trump of the United States was regarded by White House staff as being like a ‘child’, because he needed ‘immediate gratification’, said a book called Fire and Fury by the journalist Michael Wolff. The book said that Mr Trump liked to be in bed by 6.30 p.m., watching his three televisions, eating a cheeseburger and making telephone calls. It quoted his ex-strategist Steve Bannon as describing a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump election campaign officials, including Mr Trump’s son Donald Jr, as ‘treasonous’. Mr Trump responded by saying Mr Bannon had ‘lost his mind’. Mr Bannon felt obliged to step down from Breitbart News. The book also questioned the ‘mental fitness’ of Mr Trump, who replied on Twitter: ‘Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.’

President Emmanuel Macron of France made a speech in China that included the sentence ‘Make our planet great again’ in Mandarin. North Korea, having agreed to hold talks with the South over border tensions, is to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games place in South Korea in February. In the Swiss resort of Zermatt, more than 13,000 tourists were trapped by snow, but skiing was impossible because of the risk of avalanches.

The Supreme Court of India reversed its order that the national anthem had to be played in every cinema before a film was screened. Hundreds of flying foxes died in Sydney as temperatures reached 47C (117F), the highest since 1939. A prisoner in Asturias prison in Spain was certified dead but woke up in a mortuary in Oviedo.    CSH

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