The reshuffle is ongoing as I write this, with most of it still to come. So far, it’s been a good day for Brandon Lewis, a bad day for CCHQ’s social media team. I could offer my thoughts on the reshuffle overall – from what’s in the air as rumours thus far, most of it seems reasonably sensible – but I’d prefer to think about what it means for the near future of British politics and the premiership of Theresa May.
Journalists from the Left will focus on the weaknesses the reshuffle brings to light: the fact that none of the major positions, the traditional ones plus DexEU, are moving, shows us once again that Mrs May isn’t fully in charge. Well, pardon my language here, but no shit. Since June 2017 she has been a hostage to fortune in many respects. That’s nothing new. The shape of the reshuffle is simply occurring in the political reality brought about by the hung parliament – thus why it is deemed necessary to keep both Hammond and BoJo in post, and why it would take the mother of all political scandals to get May to consider moving Davis.
Journalists on the Right will focus on the balance between Leavers and Remainers. Much more interesting is that Theresa May feels bold enough to reshuffle at last. And to bring some younger talent into the ranks – well, from what is rumoured so far, at least. It means things are much more in the Tories’ hands than most on the Left would care to admit. It will be easy after things like the Chris Grayling as Chairman tweet that lasted 10 seconds to see this through the prism of the failing government, on its last legs, cockups piling upon one another. Yet if you look again, you’ll see Theresa May setting herself up for the next eighteen months, a period that will likely end with her stepping down as Prime Minister to make way for someone else. Then consider that it will take an almighty screw up on Brexit in order to seriously disrupt the unity of the Conservative Party (who are all conscious of Corbyn waiting in the wings). Finally think about the fact that despite all the scandals that have accompanied the Conservative Party over the past few months, the polls remain the same, with the Tories and the Labour Party neck in neck in the early forties.
If a Conservative Party with this many problems at the top, dealing with a difficult Brexit, and led by Theresa May can still be slightly ahead in the polls, it is worth wondering what the Tories would be polling with a shiny new leader and a transitional deal with the EU in place. Like it or not, the Left and those in the Remain camp better start thinking about it.