Thursday 8 December 2016

David Cameron chairs last Cabinet as Tories jockey for position in Theresa May's new team

Andrew Woodcock and Scott D'Arcy

Published 12/07/2016 | 10:37

British Home Secretary Theresa May arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street Photo: Getty Images
British Home Secretary Theresa May arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street Photo: Getty Images

David Cameron is chairing his final Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister as his successor Theresa May mulls over who to appoint to her top team.

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Mrs May posed for photos as she arrived at 10 Downing Street in her trademark kitten heels on the day before she moves into the famous address as the UK's second female PM.

After the expected nine-week leadership campaign was truncated to just a couple of days by Andrea Leadsom's withdrawal from the contest, Mrs May faces a breakneck period of activity appointing a new Cabinet as she takes the reins of power

After presenting herself as the unity candidate, Mrs May is expected to offer plum posts to leading figures from both the Remain and Leave camps from the EU referendum, in which she backed continued membership but kept a low profile.

Chancellor George Osborne looks unlikely to stay at the Treasury after the new PM trashed parts of his economic legacy, and is widely tipped to go to the Foreign Office. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who backed Mrs May in the leadership contest, could swap places with him and become Chancellor - a role he has long coveted.

Senior Brexiteer Chris Grayling will be rewarded for his role running Mrs May's campaign, possibly replacing her as Home Secretary, and it is thought that a prominent Leave campaigner could be given the job of overseeing negotiations for the UK's departure form the EU and make good on the new PM's promise that "Brexit means Brexit". Mrs Leadsom is expected to be offered a job in recognition of her raised profile from the referendum.

David Cameron and Theresa May pictured together in 2007
David Cameron and Theresa May pictured together in 2007

But big question marks were hanging over the future of Brexit standard-bearers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who were seen to have blotted their copy-books in the wake of the referendum result but moved quickly to endorse Mrs May when Mrs Leadsom pulled out.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers - one of a handful of Cabinet ministers who backed Leave - said she trusted Mrs May "absolutely" as she arrived at 10 Downing Street.

Mrs May will take up office on Wednesday, after Mr Cameron answers MPs' questions in the House of Commons for the last time and goes to Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation to the Queen.

Even before arriving at 10 Downing Street, Mrs May was facing calls for a snap general election from Labour, who said it was "crucial" that the UK has a "democratically-elected prime minister" at a time of economic and political instability.

She set her face against a snap election when she launched her campaign for the Tory leadership on June 30, saying: "There should be no general election until 2020."

And her backers including Mr Grayling stressed that Mrs May was a senior member in the Tory team which won a majority at the 2015 general election.

But other parties are likely to remind her of Mr Cameron's demand for an immediate election in 2007 on the grounds that Tony Blair's successor Gordon Brown "doesn't have the mandate (and) wasn't elected as prime minister".

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