Cabinet reshuffle drives big gamble on a 2019 election

This article first appeared on 25th July 2019, at

The new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has named his first Cabinet and the signals about how he plans to address the Brexit impasse could hardly have been clearer. The reaction on Betfair was swift, with a 2019 General Election heavily backed, from 2.44 into just 1.83 this morning.

New PM sends clear signal with Brexiter cabinet

Westminster journalists were aghast at the scale of the Cabinet reshuffle. Of 30 ministers, 17 either resigned or were sacked, as Johnson created what The Sun labelled a ‘war cabinet to deliver Brexit’. Appeasing Remainers or soft Brexiters is evidently not a priority.

Allies regarded as on the right of the party and the most enthusiastic backers of a no deal Brexit, are promoted. Dominic Raab – who mooted proroguing parliament during the leadership contest – becomes Foreign Secretary. Jacob Rees Mogg is Leader of the House. Priti Patel becomes Home Secretary while Esther McVey is the new Housing Minister.

So far as prominent ministers who voted Remain in 2016, only Sajid Javid is promoted, to Chancellor. Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock keep their jobs at Work and Pensions and Health. Javid has always been harder to define on the Brexit spectrum, while the latter pair performed dramatic and quite humiliating u-turns in order to stay on side.

Tories building clear election narrative

So what’s the plan? The government will persist with the line that they want a different deal than the one Theresa May negotiated, that failed to win a majority in parliament. The EU remain solidly against renegotiation. I don’t see that changing – save a few cosmetic changes, perhaps. This rhetorical game will go on all summer, almost certainly to no avail.

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