Today’s reshuffle was meant to demonstrate Theresa May’s return to political health. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
This reshuffle has been chaotic even by the standards of these things. I can’t remember an official Twitter account getting the first appointment of the day wrong before. It has also advertised the limitations to May’s authority. She has not got her own way on several appointments either because of a minister declining a move (Jeremy Hunt) or refusing to take the job they were offered (Justine Greening). The appointment of Caroline Nokes as Immigration Minister attending Cabinet is also bizarre. Before today, who thought she was the right person to design Britain’s post-Brexit immigration system?
Reshuffles work best when they send out a message about the government. It is hard to see what the positive message of this reshuffle is meant to be.
Tomorrow will, I suspect, go slightly better for Theresa May as reshuffling the lower ranks is less fraught and there’s lot of talent to promote down there. But today has been a setback for the May recovery. It shows that despite the Budget not unravelling and her getting ‘sufficient progress’ at the December European Council, she is still not—in political terms—fighting fit.