UK & World News

  • 13 July 2014, 12:22

Reshuffle: New Guard Set For Cabinet Roles

David Cameron is this week expected to deliver the biggest changes to his Cabinet since the beginning of the coalition, with women and a younger generation of MPs expected to benefit.

When it comes to reshuffles, there is one simple rule: the only person who knows all the details is the Prime Minister (and even he can't be certain - remember last time, when Iain Duncan Smith refused to agree to David Cameron's wishes?). The rest is speculation.

However, there are a few things we know for certain.

First, sources confirm this will be a significant reshuffle with some big changes. David Cameron is notoriously reluctant to shuffle his pack - he knows the danger of having disgruntled ex-ministers on the backbenches - but time is running out if he wants to refresh his team ahead of the General Election.

All the signs are that this will be a wide-ranging and significant shuffle.

Second, a big curveball has been thrown into the mix. Next week, EU leaders will meet to dole out the top jobs in the European Commission and Mr Cameron needs to work out who he wants to nominate.

One of the favourites is the Conservative peer Michael Howard, but it could also go to a current minister such as Theresa Villiers or David Willetts - freeing up another plum job back at home.

If those are the certainties, what are the probables?

Westminster watchers expect to see several women rising through the ranks. Elizabeth Truss is tipped for promotion, perhaps taking David Willetts' job as minister for universities, after performing well in her education brief.

Esther McVey is also a decent bet for an upwards move - being Liverpudlian means she also ticks the "northern" box.

Other well thought of female MPs include Nicky Morgan, Priti Patel and Amber Rudd. It's clear why Mr Cameron may feel there isn't enough oestrogen around the Cabinet table: out of 23 full-time Cabinet members, just three are women and none are mothers.

However, the chorus of complaints from some quarters that if you are a male Tory MP you have no chance of promotion is mistaken.

Male MPs from the 2010 intake who have enjoyed a stratospheric rise include Sajid Javid, Matthew Hancock and Greg Hands.

In fact, this week's reshuffle is more about the new generation of MPs replacing the old.

Senior politicians such as Andrew Lansley, Sir George Young and Ken Clarke are expected to make way for ambitious youngsters - male and female - with the same pattern repeating further down the ministerial ranks.

But don't expect that to mean the end of the "Cameron's Cuties" headlines and moaning from overlooked male MPs.

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