The Prime Minister and her senior advisers met this morning to plan a response to the ongoing tension in the Gulf; a reminder of the seriousness of the day-job of Prime Minister. As Brexit brings down one PM, on Wednesday the Queen will invite a new Prime Minister to form a government, this will be her 14th PM and whether Hunt or Johnson, the new Prime Minister faces the most complex and entrenched political crisis to affect Britain since 1945.
The contest to replace Theresa May officially ends at 17:00 today. The new party leader – widely expected to be Boris Johnson – will be announced at a special event on Tuesday morning. At noon on Wednesday the Prime Minister will make her last appearance at the despatch box as Prime Minister when she faces the Commons at PMQs. Her successor will see the Queen and return to Downing Street for a short speech on the steps of No. 10 later that afternoon. The first appointments to cabinet are expected to follow later that day. We take a speculative look at who might feature below.
The new top team will be a mix of vocal supporters, leadership contenders and political allies, from City Hall and those close to Johnson in the Commons. The Chancellor confirmed over the weekend that he’ll join other colleagues and quit before Prime Minister Johnson moves in next door. The main contender for the Treasury job is Sajid Javid MP, his team has already been into the department and his public support for Johnson provided valuable momentum at an important time in the leadership bid. Another contender is Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Elizabeth Truss MP or possibly Jeremy Hunt himself, should he move from the Foreign Office, but Javid remains the likely candidate. In line for promotion at HMT is Rishi Sunak MP, a possible Chief Secretary.
If Hunt stays at the Foreign Office, and Javid moves to Treasury the Home Office could be filled by Penny Mordaunt MP, if she moves from Defence, Priti Patel MP is also a possibility for the Home department. Gavin Williamson MP has played a prominent role in the campaign and is expected to return to Cabinet as will Dominic Raab MP potentially back to DExEU. The former leader of the party, Iain Duncan Smith MP is rumored to join the Cabinet Office with a roving brief. Michael Gove MP might stay at Defra, with Matt Hancock MP also remaining at Health and Social Care. Amber Rudd MP is also keen to keep a cabinet job, perhaps holding on at DWP.
Former Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP and Grant Shapps MP will return to government in senior roles. David Davis MP is considering a return to cabinet. We can expect likely promotions for other vocal supporters of Johnson including Kit Malthouse MP, James Cleverly MP, Ben Wallace MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Nigel Adams MP and Jake Berry MP.
In Downing Street, the PM is likely to be more chairman than executive, his team will be made up of those he has worked with in the past, many from City Hall and those who have helped his leadership campaign. Sir Edward Lister, Johnson’s deputy at City Hall is widely tipped to be chief of staff. Will Walden, adviser at City Hall and on the Vote Leave campaign will remain close in Downing Street. Communications likely lead by Lee Cain, who has been running media on the campaign. Oliver Lewis was policy chief to the campaign and we might expect him and Munira Mirza to lead policy in the heart of government. Also former adviser at City Hall, Alex Crowley, and Ben Mallet are also close confidants and expected to take senior positions. Operations in the hands of Shelley William-Walker with James Starkie and Nikki da Costa forming the political team. We should also expect a senior role for former MP James Wharton who played a central part in the early, parliamentary stages of the leadership campaign, his skills may be brought to managing parliamentary/party relations.
Many of these appointments are still to be finalized, and speculation and rumor will continue until official word from the new Prime Minister. What is certain is the challenges facing the new government are as monumental as the opportunity. The new Prime Minister will need to take the momentum of new leadership to face these tests, and his new team will be critical to the government’s future. We don’t have long to wait!