With Amber Rudd gone, talk has turned to who will replace her as Home Secretary. Downing Street has suggested that hacks should be on standby for an announcement later today. However, choosing a successor will be no easy task.
The bookies’ favourite is Michael Gove, the government’s resident eco-warrior who currently resides at Defra. However, this seems unlikely for two reasons. Firstly, up until now, May has always worked to preserve the Remain/Leave balance of her Cabinet. It follows that she’d ideally want to replace Rudd with a fellow Remainer. To upset the balance so close to crunch talks on the customs union would be a bold move. Secondly, Gove sits on a different end of the spectrum to May when it comes to immigration. As part of Vote Leave, the Brexiteer argued for a liberal immigration approach – at loggerheads with May’s tens of thousands target.
As James revealed last week, at Cabinet Theresa May clashed with Boris Johnson on immigration and the idea of an amnesty for some undocumented migrants. May opposes this and sticks by the hostile environment policy – despite the Windrush row. It follows that it’s unlikely she would pick someone who disagrees with the policy and its aims. The Cabinet ministers thought to broadly agree with May on immigration are her former Home Office colleague Karen Bradley and Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary. Chris Grayling and Esther McVey aren’t poles apart from May on the topic either.
Another name doing the rounds is Sajid Javid. Javid is a safe pair of hands in government and has been vocal about the mistakes made handling Windrush immigration cases. The housing and communities secretary has said the scandal has felt ‘very personal’ because it could have been him and his family facing threats of deportation. It follows that appointing the Brexiteer to the role would send a clear signal that the government was taking the issue seriously – and trying a new tack.
There’s also a chance that one of the Home Office junior ministers could be promoted. But given that Caroline Nokes added fuel to the fire with an interview suggesting people had been wrongly deported, she looks unlikely for promotion. Ben Wallace meanwhile is a Remainer who has been on his security brief for some time.
Whoever May does pick will reveal a lot about how the government intends to move on from the Windrush scandal. A recent YouGov poll found that the British public still ‘overwhelmingly’ support the ‘hostile environment’ policy, with 74-82pc supporting the idea that people prove their right to live in the UK to do things like accept a job. Don’t be surprised if May sticks to her guns on this and picks someone who shares her vision.