James Brokenshire is back in government after his illness. He is the new housing secretary, which marks quite a change from Sajid Javid. Brokenshire is one of those ministers May trusts deeply: he worked with her in the Home Office where she found him to be a quietly loyal colleague.
What does this mean for housing policy? It means May has now got one of her people overseeing this crucial policy area: Javid is not known for his quiet loyalty, as yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph interview showed. He is also known for his desire to push May to back radical ideas to get housebuilding going. Had Javid been serving under a Prime Minister who wasn’t as cautious as May (and who had a majority), he would have introduced a far greater relaxation of planning laws, and given councils the power to borrow in order to build more homes.
But a housing secretary who is in step with his prime minister is no bad thing: bad policies are made when ministers are distracted by fights. The question is whether Javid will find himself even more constrained in the Home Office, or whether May actually wants him to be radical.