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Who might replace Priti Patel in a reshuffle?

8 November 2017

3:50 PM

8 November 2017

3:50 PM

Priti Patel is currently on her way to Downing Street, where she is expected to be fired by Theresa May. The early signs are that Number 10 is looking for a Leaver to replace her as International Development Secretary, to preserve the Cabinet’s Brexit balance. But this would be the wrong way to think about the reshuffle. Trying to replace Patel with someone who matches her profile as closely as possible would just be another advertisement of how weak May’s position is.

In parliamentary terms, though, May is, obviously, in a weak position, Getting a clean EU withdrawal bill will be very difficult. (Indeed, the position of the Scottish Tories means that significant changes will be required to Clause 11 of the bill.). May could use this latest instalment of the reshuffle to pick off some of the Tory rebels on this bill. If she buried the hatchet with Nicky Morgan and returned her to the Cabinet table, she’d effectively get herself two extra votes for a clean, EU withdrawal bill. Equally, if she offered Nick Herbert—who has been heavily involved in development work since leaving government—the job, it would have the same effect. I suspect that the prospect of sitting around the Cabinet table is still sufficiently appealing to get these people to accept the job if offered.

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