Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cameron makes chaotic reshuffle as Miller quits

Former UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller quits as pressure mounted on her after her expenses controversy
Former UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller quits as pressure mounted on her after her expenses controversy

Andrew Grice

British Prime Minister David Cameron's judgment was called into question by Conservative MPs as his "problem with women" was highlighted by a chaotic reshuffle after the resignation of Maria Miller.

He was accused of marginalising women after he put a man, Sajid Javid, in charge of equalities and appointed a Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan, who opposed same-sex marriage. His reshuffle means there is no mother in the Cabinet for the first time since 1992, and leaves the number of female full Cabinet ministers – three – at its lowest level since 1997.

Mr Cameron came under fire for allowing Ms Miller to cling on to her job as Culture Secretary for six days after a perfunctory 32-second Commons apology for her response during a Parliamentary inquiry into allegations about her expenses.

In what was dubbed a "Whitehall farce", Mr Cameron's swift mini-reshuffle backfired.

Mr Javid, a Treasury minister, was promoted to Culture Secretary and also took on Ms Miller's work as Equalities Minister. But so as to avoid him being Minister for Women, that part of Ms Miller's brief was handed to Ms Morgan, a Treasury minister promoted to Mr Javid's former number three position in George Osborne's department.

It leaves four ministers with responsibility for women's issues – Mr Javid, Ms Morgan, Helen Grant, the Sports Minister, and Jenny Willott, a Liberal Democrat minister at the Department for Business.

Downing Street was unable to say which minister would answer questions in the Commons on issues such as women's pay and lesbian marriages.

Three hours after insisting Ms Morgan would report to Mr Javid, Number 10 made a U-turn. Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "Nicky Morgan will report directly to the Prime Minister on women's issues. I want to correct a mistake I made." He said Ms Morgan would attend all meetings of the Cabinet, even though she is not a full member.

Labour claimed the chaos revealed Mr Cameron's "blind spot" over women.

Gloria de Piero, the shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said: "David Cameron's decision to replace Maria Miller with Sajid Javid means that there is now no full member of the Cabinet speaking for women. There are now just three women running government departments out of a possible 22, demonstrating that when it comes to women, it's out of sight, out of mind for this out-of-touch government."

Nan Sloane, director of the Centre for Women in Democracy, said: "Despite his pre-election pledge to make a third of his ministerial list female, the Prime Minister is now running the country with a Cabinet that's almost 90pc male. This mini-reshuffle has taken us backwards not forwards when it comes to women's representation."

The official version of events is that Ms Miller decided to leave the Cabinet because the media coverage of the expenses controversy was a "distraction".

But senior Conservatives believe she was pushed out by Downing Street on Tuesday evening, as Mr Cameron faced two cross-examinations yesterday at Prime Minister's Questions and a meeting with Tory backbenchers, many of whom had lost confidence in Ms Miller. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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