UK's May plans Cabinet changes as Brexit enters new phase

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

It also comes as the prime minister tries to reset her leadership in the face of a resurgent opposition Labour party, which exceeded expectations in the snap election May called - and almost lost - last summer.

Camera IconTheresa May with the correct new chairman of the Conservative Party, Brandon Lewis. The Tweet was deleted moments later.

"No wonder Theresa May's struggling to negotiate Brexit - she can't even organise a reshuffle", tweeted opposition Labour MP Stephen Kinnock. This has confirmed this Sunday in a television interview, which has reiterated its intention to remain in office until next election, despite a half-year disastrous, since it lost its absolute majority in June, after a disastrous electoral advancement.

By the end of Monday, Theresa May must have felt like all the other hapless British workers who returned to the office for the new year with a spring in their step and the best of intentions, only to find the fearless resolutions they made over the Christmas break crumbling in the face of reality.

Most senior ministers stayed in their posts on Monday, with some defying May's attempts to move them.

In a sign of Mrs May's priorities, the Department for Exiting the European Union gains an extra minister in Ms Fernandes, while the teams at the newly renamed Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Department of Health and Social Care also increase in size.

The second phase of Brexit negotiations, covering transitional arrangements after the United Kingdom leaves and economic and security co-operation in the future, are due to begin soon.

The big victor of the shake-up was former justice secretary David Lidington, who replaced Damian Green as minister for the cabinet office, but was not awarded the title of first secretary of state enjoyed by his predecessor.

According to the newspaper, the new minister is likely to be placed in the ministry for Brexit and will work in parallel with Minister Davis Davis.

However, many of May's ministers disagree on the shape of the future relationship.

The reshuffle also saw the unexpected departure of Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire, who quit the Government on grounds of ill-health weeks ahead of major surgery for a small lesion to his right lung. He has failed to bring together feuding political parties in the British province, where the devolved government collapsed a year ago nearly to the day.

The prime minister was prompted to carry out what her office called a "refresh" of the government after sacking her deputy, Damian Green, last month, in a row over pornography found on his computer in 2008.

Among those getting in on the joke was MP Ed Vaizey, the Conservative member for Didcot and Wantage, who recalled a mix-up between him and Liberal Democrat Ed Davey.

However, while Downing Street said Mr Lidington would stand in for the Prime Minister at PMQs, he has not been given the formal title of First Secretary of State, a role which effectively gave Mr Green the role of deputy Prime Minister.