2 Nov 2017

New Defence Secretary installed in ‘House of Cards’ reshuffle


No wonder House of Cards was cancelled. It’s now become a fly-on-the-wall reality TV show.

The Chief Whip, no doubt with a heavy heart, appears to have suggested himself for a big promotion. And the PM has agreed.

Gavin Williamson is the new Defence Secretary and is on his way now to the MOD via his office in Parliament. Maybe he is picking up his pet tarantula.

Given that the government struggles to get anything through the Commons, it’s a big loss to the PM’s machinery of government.

Theresa May was under pressure to promote fresh faces who might be considered for the highest office.

In circumstances not of her choosing and at an awkward time, she has nonetheless put some kind of preferment mark on the man who helped to get her original leadership campaign on track and has been at her side since she came to No 10.

Some, not least jealous rivals, will suggest Mr Williamson is a man on a mission.

Last night, the outgoing Defence Secretary held it together until the last moments on the department, when officials saw how shattered he was to leave a job he relished.

The new Chief Whip is Julian Smith, often seen by Mr Williamson’s side. It doesn’t signify a massive change of style. Maybe the appointment of Esther McVey as Deputy Chief Whip is intended to signal a change in approach?

Mr Williamson was accused of holding regular briefings for the PM on miscreant colleagues which focused on how they now “had something on” an MP who might think twice before rebelling (though Mrs May denied this version of events).

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