Theresa May strengthens party apparatus in Cabinet shakeup

UK Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to inject new energy into a government weighed down by Brexit on Monday, reor...

Posted: Jan 8, 2018 6:55 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2018 6:55 PM

UK Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to inject new energy into a government weighed down by Brexit on Monday, reorganizing her top ministerial team with an eye to strengthening the apparatus of her governing Conservative Party.

The main changes were to posts that relate to party organization, as the Conservatives struggle to repair the damage caused by May's misjudged call to hold a general election last June.

But May left her most senior Cabinet lieutenants in place. Boris Johnson, one of the leading names in the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, remained as Foreign Secretary, while Philip Hammond, a prominent "remain" supporter, stayed as chief finance minister. Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis also kept their jobs.

The reshuffle was forced by the sacking in December of Damien Green as May's de facto deputy. Green admitted lying over allegations that police discovered pornographic material on his House of Commons computer during a raid in 2008.

The appointments, announced one-by-one on the Downing Street Twitter feed Monday, included the promotion of immigration minister Brandon Lewis to the position of Conservative Party Chairman. He takes responsibility for reinforcing party's defenses against onslaught from the opposition Labour Party.

Lewis, previously housing minister, is viewed by party colleagues as a good media performer, but his debut was marred by a tweet from the official Conservative Party account incorrectly announcing that the Tory chairman's job was going to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The tweet was swiftly deleted.

Appointments to non-Cabinet positions included the promotion of a relatively new lawmaker James Cleverley as deputy chairman and former nurse, Maria Caulfield, who was promoted to a vice-chairman position with responsibility for women.

Europhile and ex-Europe Minister David Lidington rose to the position of Cabinet Office minister. He will stand in for May in the weekly Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons when she is away. But he was not given the First Secretary of State title enjoyed by his Green, the man he replaced.

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