David Cameron has completed his biggest reshuffle in office, demoting the trouble-making Michael Gove to chief whip, installing the Eurosceptic Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and promoting two more women to the cabinet.
The prime minister has cleared out a dozen middle-aged and older men from his ministerial ranks in order to create a more female and less privileged top team. The strategy behind the shake-up is being attributed to Lynton Crosby, Cameron’s election adviser, as the party seeks to make itself look more representative of society before the election.
However, there are already signs of a backlash within the party about the scale of the sackings. Among the centrists, there is unhappiness about the departure of Dominic Grieve as attorney general, who has stood up for the European court of human rights, Ken Clarke as a cabinet minister without portfolio, who was a rare pro-European voice, and Greg Barker, an energy minister who consistently fought for climate change to remain on the agenda. …
The new appointments only take the number of women in the full cabinet up to five – the same number as in 2011 – as Esther McVey, the employment minister, and Lady Stowell, the new leader of the Lords, will only have the right to attend the Tuesday morning meetings.
Stowell was initially not going to get the higher salary of her predecessor, but following outrage about the discrepancy, the Conservative party said it would top up her salary to the same as that enjoyed by Hill on the taxpayer.