Friday 23 March 2018

Women will make up almost half of reshuffled UK Cabinet

Theresa May leaves after attending a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photo: AP
Theresa May leaves after attending a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photo: AP

Steven Swinford

Theresa May will promote women into some of the most senior positions in her government after becoming the second female Prime Minister in Britain's history.

Ms May is expected to announce significant promotions for Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, and Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, as she unveils her new team.

Ms Rudd is tipped for one of the four big offices of state, with friends of Ms May suggesting that she could be made Home Secretary, while Ms Greening is poised to become the new Health Secretary.

Ms May's reshuffle is likely to propel several female Conservative MPs onto the front bench for the first time and could mean that close to half of the Cabinet are women.

A spokesman for Ms May said: "It was Theresa who set up the campaign to elect more female MPs to parliament - and she has always believed that there should be more women in prominent government positions."

Ms May's appointment makes her only the second female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.

However, her decision to promote female MPs into senior positions differentiates her from Ms Thatcher.

Ms Thatcher only appointed one woman to any of her Cabinets in the 11 years that she was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.

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

Janet Young was appointed Leader of the House of Lords from 1981 to 1983 in Ms Thatcher's first term.

In other major moves expected to be announced in the coming days, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, could become the new Chancellor and swap roles with Mr Osborne, who is being tipped as the new Foreign Secretary.

Friends of Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, said that he hoped to play a "significant role" in Ms May's Cabinet and feels that he "has a lot to give".

Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary who ended Mr Johnson's leadership hopes by deciding to stand himself, has repeatedly clashed with Ms May in the past and there are questions over whether he will retain his place in Cabinet.

Last night it emerged that civil servants have already been charged with finding a building to host her "ministry for Brexit", which will be led by a prominent Leave campaigner.

Chris Grayling, Ms May's campaign manager, and Liam Fox, a former Defence Secretary, have both been tipped for the role.

Ms May told Conservative activists yesterday that the party will "win big" in 2020, as she formally ruled out holding a snap general election, warning that the party cannot forget the threat posed by the Labour Party.

There are likely to be several new women appointed to Cabinet including Karen Bradley, a junior Home Office minister, and Margot James, a long-standing ally of Ms May.

Priti Patel, the Eurosceptic employment minister, is also likely to be appointed to Cabinet.

Andrea Leadsom - the Energy Minister who stepped aside from the Conservative leadership race clearing the path for Ms May to become Prime Minister - is tipped to replace Ms Rudd as the new Energy Secretary.

Many of Ms May's expected female promotions have a background in finance.

Ms Rudd, Ms Greening, Ms Leadsom and Ms Patel all have backgrounds in the City.

Meanwhile, David Cameron is to hand out honours to some of his closest aides at Number 10 in a move that risks starting another 'cronies' row.

Traditionally the resignation honours lists are published some weeks after the Prime Minister vacates 10 Downing Street in the 'London Gazette'.

However, Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, is thought to be unlikely to be knighted after he decided to go against Mr Cameron's wishes and back the Leave campaign at the EU referendum.

Resignation honours lists have been published every time since 1945, when Winston Churchill stood down as Prime Minister.

The exception was Tony Blair, who did not publish a list of recommendations when he stood down as Labour Prime Minister in 1997.

Irish Independent

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