The Cabinet is widely and correctly dismissed as weak. So we’ve had a go at assembling a stronger one. Here is the result.
Our only rule is that no Commons member of the present Cabinet can be listed in this imaginary one. Some of those named below are very familiar to this site’s editors. Others we don’t really know, and one or two we’ve never met.
The aim of the exercise isn’t to suggest that the entire Cabinet should be swept away, and this one appointed. Nor that all the alternatives to the present incumbents are better.
None the less, We think that, person for person, this is a better and certainly a more experienced mix of potential Ministers – all of whom are waiting in the wings either in government or on the backbenches,
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Chancellor of the Exchequer
Javid never got a chance to deliver a Budget. In our imaginary scheme, he would. His economic instincts are dry, pro-current spending control, lower business taxes, and more infrastructure investment
Undoubtedly a gamble, since he’s never held Ministerial office, but the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chairman and former soldier is one of the country’s leading foreign affairs thinkers.
Whatever you think of her period as Prime Minister, May gripped a department that famously is “not fit for purpose” and, with some of her Tory colleagues campaigning against her, worked to keep net migration down.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office
He is more than capable, as his blog confirms, of thinking creatively about policy, the civil service and delivery – as one would expect from the most effective Tory head that the Downing Street Policy Unit has ever had,
Steeped in defence through family background and her Portsmouth constituency, Mordaunt had less than three months to prove herself in this post. There’s a case for her having more.
Cox is a Queen’s Council as well as a convinced Brexiteer, and would bring heavyweight credentials to dealing with the judiciary, prisons, human rights and judicial review.
Clark is the sole former Cabinet Minister left in the Commons who lost the whip over Brexit, and under this plan would return to his old department.
If Boris Johnson thinks Fox is capable of running the World Trade Organisation, he must surely believe that he could make a success of running his former department again.
Our columnist is now Chair of the Education Select Committee, is a former Minister in the department, and has a populist, work-orientated passion for the subject.
The appointment would be risky, because Hunt is bound to be caught up in the Coronavirus inquiry, but he has consistently been ahead of the game on social distancing plus test and trace.
Work and Pensions Secretary
Iain Duncan Smith
Universal Credit has been a quiet success story of Covid-19, and Duncan Smith has the seniority and experience to take it to the next level, given its indispensability as unemployment soars.
Housing, Communites and Local Government Secretary
Former local councillor, London Assembly member, Deputy Mayor to Boris Johnson in London, Minister of State for Housing and Planning – and so well-qualified for the post.
Paterson knows almost everything about the brief, having held it under David Cameron, and as a convinced Leaver would have plenty of ideas for the future of farming post-Brexit.
Would be a promotion for a Minister who’s worked in the department before, and did a committed job there as Roads Minister.
Knows everything there is to know about sport, and would be a popular appointment, were she willing to take the post on.
Young, personable, and seen as close to Ruth Davidson, which would help with a row about a second Scottish independence referendum coming down the tracks. A calculated gamble from a limited field.
Senior, thoughtful, knows the brief from first hand, will be across the internal Party debate in Wales about the future of devolution.
Northern Ireland Secretary
Successful on conventional and social media as a Party Chairman, a strong communicator, and now gaining diplomatic experience at the Foreign Office – Northern Ireland would represent a natural transfer.
Right-wing, and not afraid of thinking for herself on culture issues – as she has shown as a Minister in sweeping up in the Commons on race, justice and Black Lives Matter. Would make a strong spokesman.
Leader of the Lords
The Lords leader is the exception to our rule, on the ground that the Government’s problem with top Ministers is focused in the Commons, not the Lords – where what’s needed is wider reform.
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Entitled to attend
Leader of the House
Leadsom was an excellent Leader of the House, standing up to bullying John Bercow, and well up to dealing with the knotty complex of bullying/harrassment issues. No reason for her not to come back.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Adventurous choice – but, contrary to the fashionable noise about tax rises, what’s really needed is a proper zero-based review of public spending, a task to which Baker would commit himself zealously.
This QC consider herself unlucky to miss out last time round, and if there has to be a change in post she would slide in seamlessly.
The long-standing Chairman of the 1922 Committee Executive knows the Parliamentary Party as well as, if not better, than anyone, and would be perfect for the post were he willing to take it.