Cabinet reshuffle countdown: What does Rishi Sunak’s plan mean for the General Election?
Simon Danczuk, businessman, author and former MP, breaks down Rishi Sunak’s strategy for the rumoured upcoming cabinet reshuffle.
There’s just one more week of parliamentary recess before MPs return to Westminster. Predictions are Rishi Sunak will have a reshuffle, chopping and changing those in the cabinet and other Government Ministers. The idea is that he’ll create a fresh winning team to take the Conservatives into the forthcoming General Election.
Political power plays
There are some he just can’t move. Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor of the Exchequer is a safe pair of hands – he successfully ran the Department of Health for six years – and Sunak is unlikely to risk unsettling the financial markets by moving him.
James Cleverly has already intimated that he’d like to stay as Foreign Secretary, which is rather presumptuous, though he has done a good job. At this stage in the political cycle, there’s no advantage to moving him. Lee Anderson is Vice-Chairman of the Party and Sunak’s attack dog. He’s done an excellent job saying exactly what a lot of the public are thinking. There will be more of that as the election comes closer, so he can’t be moved.
Suella Braverman is interesting. She’s been tough on illegal immigration and taken all the steps to get the Home Office moving in the right direction – no easy task. However, she does have her dissenters within her own party, unfortunately, she may well not survive. We already know Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, is stepping down from that role, so who should replace him? Penny Mordaunt is a good bet, she’s exceptionally competent and currently wasted as Leader of the House of Commons.
Old hands or fresh faces?
Kemi Badenoch, rightly tipped as a future PM, has done a good job at Business and Trade, securing a number of international deals that advantage UK plc. With Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary struggling with NHS waiting lists and strikes, it would be smart to replace him with Badenoch. The smart thing for Sunak to do, in terms of parliamentary unity, and campaigning competence, would be to bring back some ‘old hands.’ Priti Patel is exceptionally effective and could easily take over from someone like Gillian Keegan at Education, who just hasn’t made a mark.
A return for Esther McVey would also make sense. She’s a great communicator and could fulfil her old Work and Pensions brief – replacing Mel Stride, who hasn’t done particularly well. Bringing on new talent like Miriam Cates and Paul Bristow and promoting the likes of Paul Scully would also make sense.
Whoever Sunak chooses in the reshuffle they’ve got one hell of a year ahead of them, it’s going to be a lead-up to a General Election like no other.
Simon Danczuk is a businessman, author and former MP who represented the constituency of Rochdale between 2010 and 2017. He has co-written two books, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith and Scandal at Dolphin Square.