Who are the ministers who could replace Maria Miller? Some of the muttering over the past few days has been about the Prime Minister’s desire to keep women in the Cabinet, and Miller herself boasted of being the only mother in the Cabinet.
[audioboo url=”https://audioboo.fm/boos/2059892-maria-miller-on-her-resignation”]Maria Miller: Resigning is ‘the right thing to do’[/audioboo]
There are many mothers, fathers, men and women in the Tory party who have bright careers ahead of them. If the PM feels he needs a woman, he could promote Nicky Morgan, currently shining at the Treasury. Or plain-speaking Esther McVey (if her comments on ITV’s The Agenda on Monday were a little too plainly-spoken, then they shouldn’t damage her career: I understand that she warned colleagues that if she was asked about it on the show, she’d have to be honest about what she thought of Maria Miller’s apology), who has risen steadily from being a PPS to Chris Grayling to Minister of State at the DWP. Similarly Liz Truss has proven that she’s a dab hand even in hostile environments by surviving bitter battles with the Lib Dems in the Education department.
He could also move up Priti Patel to a junior ministerial position: she was already tipped for a promotion from the Number 10 policy board – and as a eurosceptic on the right of the party would be a comforting promotion for that faction of MPs, too, though it is too much of a jump to promote her from the backbenches to the Cabinet.
If PM needs to replace a mother with a mother, he has nine Tory MPs already in government to choose from, according to Coffee House research. The mothers in government are Nicky Morgan, Helen Grant (unlikely to get a promotion after poor performance), Baroness Warsi (not tipped to rise, with a briefing campaign against her from some quarters), Liz Truss, Anna Soubry (fantastically ferocious on programmes such as Any Questions but possibly not ready for a promotion to Cabinet), whip and former public health minister Anne Milton, whip Amber Rudd, whip Claire Perry and whip Harriett Baldwin.
Of course, he could promote a man – or move a man already occupying a Cabinet job who doesn’t mind a move. It depends how essential the Prime Minister thinks it is to get another woman in Cabinet – depressingly for those who think that this sort of symbolism makes government look silly, it’s quite important in politics, partly because Labour likes to crow about Cameron’s ‘women problem’. Fortunately for him, he has many bright women in government to choose from.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.