Category Archives: home secretary

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Cabinet Reshuffle Sees Increase In Privately-Educated Ministers

Theresa May’s new Cabinet has five times more privately-educated people than in the general population, analysis has revealed.

Of the 23 ministers who make up the Government’s top team, 34% attended fee-paying schools – up from 30% in May’s first Cabinet in July 2016, social mobility charity The Sutton Trust has discovered.

According to the Independent Schools Council, just 6.5% of pupils in the UK are educated privately.

As well as an over-representation of private school alumni, almost half – 48% – of Cabinet ministers went to either Oxford or Cambridge universities.

Dr Lee Elliot Major, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust: “Theresa May made great progress in the composition of her first cabinet, so it is disappointing that yesterday’s reshuffle means that progress has reversed a little.

“The Prime Minister’s Cabinet has to reflect the society that they represent and this is a step in the wrong direction.

“Anyone should be able to become a minister, regardless of social background.

“Today’s figures remind us how important it is to make sure that young people from low and middle income backgrounds also have access to the best schools and the best universities that will enable them to get to the top of so many of our professions which remain largely the preserve of the privately educated.”

Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock attended King’s School in Chester.” alt=”Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock attended King’s School in Chester.” data-credit=”Nicolò Campo via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”Nicolò Campo via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”853968662″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Of the newly-appointed Cabinet Minsters, Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey were privately-educated, as was Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes, who also attends Cabinet.

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening, former Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin and former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire were all state-educated. 

Others who received private education include Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Eton), Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Cheltenham Ladies College) and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse).

May attended a fee-paying school from the age of 11 to 13, before moving to a grammar school. 

Commenting on the reshuffle, May said: “This Government is about building a country fit for the future – one that truly works for everyone with a stronger economy and a fairer society. 

“This reshuffle helps us do just that by bringing fresh talent into Government, boosting delivery in key policy areas like housing, health and social care, and ensuring the Government looks more like the country it serves.

“It also allows a new generation of gifted Ministers to step up and make life better for people across the whole UK.” 

While May’s Cabinet is made up of fewer private-educated ministers than previous Tory governments, it is still way ahead of Labour PM Clement Attlee, who had just 25% of his 1945 Cabinet from fee-paying schools.

Share of Cabinets who were privately-educated 

David Cameron (2015) – 50%

David Cameron/Nick Clegg (2010) – 62%

Gordon Brown (2007) – 32%

Tony Blair (1997) – 32%

John Major (1992) – 71%

Margaret Thatcher (1979) – 91%

Clement Attlee (1945) – 25%


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Analysis: How Theresa May’s Cabinet Reshuffle Was Dogged By Chaos, Confusion And Ministerial Defiance

This was the day of the rebel remainers, but not as we’ve known them. With notable Cabinet ministers effectively declaring themselves ‘unsackable’, most of them ended up staying in post. Lots were remaining, two were genuine leavers (Patrick McLoughlin and James Brokenshire) and only one (Justine Greening) was actually fired.

With No.10 tweeting out lines like ‘Greg Clark remains Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’, it looked like it was creating new titles for ministers to try to inject some sense that something, anything had changed. Hence Downing Street said that Sajid Javid ‘becomes’ the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. And Jeremy Hunt ‘becomes’ the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Right from the get-go, the PM wanted to pitch this as a reshuffle that promoted more women, minority ethnic and younger MPs.  But right from the get-go, the ‘optics’ of the day were undermined by errors, unforced and forced.  

The first real blunder came at 11.43am, when a hapless Iain Carter, political director at Conservative Campaigns HQ (CCHQ) spotted reports by the BBC’s Norman Smith suggesting Chris Grayling would become the new Tory chairman. Carter told the Tory MPs’ WhatsApp group of the news. The official Conservatives Twitter account tweeted the Grayling appointment, but it was deleted just 27 seconds later, after a No.10 rang to say it was wrong. Brandon Lewis, the popular Immigration Minister, was getting the chairman’s job instead. Eager Tory backbencher Rebecca Pow had retweeted the Grayling news, only for it to disappear before her eyes.

The PM’s hopes of projecting a fresher image for her party were confirmed as she appointed a raft of rising stars, such as Ben Bradley and Kemi Badenoch, to vice-chairman posts. Yet the gaggle of posts included some sacked ministers, and all jobs were unpaid and not ministerial.  And in another PR blunder, the PM’s photo-call on the steps of No.10 came too late for the BBC’s One O’Clock News.

No.10 began to steady the ship with the first big Whitehall appointment, with the ever-dependable David Lidington getting Damian Green’s Cabinet Office role. Significantly, he did not get the title of First Secretary of State, proof that the PM really didn’t want to again have to depend on someone as close as Green. Lidington will deputise for her at PMQs, a role he’s done before as Commons Leader. He also won’t take over all of Green’s Cabinet committees, though he will take on all the Brexit ones. Seen as an arch Remainer by some Tory MPs during his time at Europe Minister, that may unnerve some on the backbenches.

Yet as Boris Johnson, David Davis, Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond were all confirmed as remaining in their own posts, the focus turned to Jeremy Hunt. In another damaging gaffe, minister Philip Dunne – who was in the Commons filling in for Hunt – told MPs that cancelled operations were fine because ‘most hospitals have seats’.

The day was not getting any better and over in No.10 Hunt spent a long time arguing that he should not be moved to Business Secretary, despite being offered a beefed-up role that was pitched as a post-Brexit, big picture job with new powers. Hunt instead made a ‘passionate’ case for an expanded role covering health and social care. May, possibly wary of a walk-out but also convinced of his logic, relented. When Greg Clark was invited in, his reappointment was swift.

In a pattern repeated through the day with other ministers queuing up to hear their fate, neither Clark nor Hunt saw each other as they waited to meet the PM. Like TV showbiz guests in kept apart in different green rooms, they had no contact.  In a couple of months, Hunt will surpass Nye Bevan’s time in office and is set to become the longest ever serving Health Secretary if he stays in post beyond Norman Fowler’s record 5 years and 167 days this autumn.

But Hunt’s unexpected digging in threw the whole reshuffle out of joint and left the ‘optics’ looking even worse, with ministers arriving in and leaving in the winter dark rather than daylight. Perhaps emboldened by her colleague, but in fact determined not to be shunted away from social mobility, Education Secretary Justine Greening spent more than two hours arguing why she didn’t want to take the Work and Pensions job. This time, May was not so amenable and Greening was forced to quit. The minister came out through the front door smiling. Although Esther McVey took the DWP job, Greening’s replacement at Education by Damian Hinds meant there was no net change at all in the number of women with full Cabinet posts. And the number of LGBT Cabinet ministers fell by one.  The delays meant the BBC 6 O’Clock News came and went with Greening still digging in.

Of course, most PMs suffer hiccups and delays on reshuffle day. Tony Blair once sacked Charles Clarke as Home Secretary in the Rose Garden, offering him the consolation prize of Defence Secretary. Clarke wanted Foreign Secretary or nothing, and walked. Yet many MPs know that May lacks Blair’s majority and his authority to get his way.

New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock was one of the few people genuinely delighted by the day, positively skipping out of No.10. He later tweeted a photo of himself and Rita Ora at a dinner. Former Chancellor George Osborne also tweeted his glee that his Treasury proteges like Hancock had won promotions (even before another one, Claire Perry, won Cabinet status).

Osborne was perhaps most pleased however by the prospect that Greening, a Remainer whose London constituency overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU, could now join the ranks of the vocal Brexit mutineers like Nicky Morgan.

Still, the Twitter blunders continued into the evening. Hunt ‘liked’ a Tweet by GuidoFawkes announcing Greening’s resignation. Backbencher Nadhim Zahawi retweeted Labour MP Lisa Nandy’s message that McVey’s appointment was ‘an appalling decision by the Prime Minister’. And it took a tweet from Sir Nicholas Soames to underscore what some MPs had felt about the entire day.

With many of the winners turning out to be white men, just two more women were added to the net number of ministers attending Cabinet. And while Andrea Leadsom survived as Commons Leader, there was one final curious absence from the ministerial list: no Cabinet minister for Women and Equalities (Greening’s role) had been appointed.   As Soames suggests, many of his colleagues will hope the PM does a much better job with the non-Cabinet ranks tomorrow.

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Theresa May’s Botched Cabinet Reshuffle Confirms PM’s Weakness – HuffPost Verdict

K E Y   P O I N T S


  • Reshuffle has chaotic start as Conservative Party accidentally announces Chris Grayling as new chairman on Twitter instead of Brandon Lewis.
  • Justine Greening resigns as education secretary after reportedly turning down move to DWP.
  • Esther McVey appointed work and pensions secretary instead.
  • Jeremy Hunt keeps job as health secretary but takes on extra responsibility for social care.
  • Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson remain in post.
  • David Lidington handed Damian Green’s old job of Cabinet Office minister – but does not inherit first secretary of state title.
  • Greening replaced as education secretary by Damian Hinds
  • James Brokenshire resigns as Northern Ireland secretary due to ill health and is replaced by Karen Bradley.
  • Sajid Javid remains communities secretary in a renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
  • David Gauke appointed justice secretary. Matt Hancock promoted to culture secretary.
  • Liam Fox remains international trade secretary. Chris Grayling stays as transport secretary. 
  • Penny Mordaunt reappointed as international development secretary. Michael Gove remains environment secretary.
  • Abortion rights campaigners protest appointment of Maria Caulfield in shake-up of CCHQ.


S N A P    V E R D I C T 

From HuffPost UK executive editor, politics, Paul Waugh

One week into 2018 and Theresa May had clearly been reading all those ‘New Year! New You!’ magazine features. She wanted to freshen up the image of her Government, promoting talented women and minority ethnic MPs, while rewarding quiet competence.

But so far this isn’t a reshuffle, it’s a re-brand. And a badly botched one at that. Competence seemed far away when the Conservatives themselves wrongly tweeted Chris Grayling had got the party chairman post, for all of 27 seconds. And as for diversity, some of the party vice-chair appointments smacked of tokenism, given none are paid or ministerial posts.

The first big jobs went to men, not women. Apart from James Cleverly, the men were all white. And Justine Greening’s resignation left the impression that the only person who had been fired was a woman.

The promotion of media-savvy Brandon Lewis to Tory chairman, and David Lidington’s move to replace Damian Green, were shrewd placements of round pegs in round holes. Yet shifting David Gauke from DWP felt like an error that undermined the idea that political effectiveness should be rewarded. The re-badging of the ‘Ministry for Housing’ and ‘Department for Health and Social Care’ also risked the charge this is all about spin not substance.

Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to budge from Health proves yet again that May lacks even a PM’s usual powers of patronage, adding his ‘unsackability’ to that of Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond. Changing the Tories’ reputation on the NHS is probably a bigger challenge than getting Brexit right. And it’s far from clear that Hunt will persuade his critics as effectively as he defied the PM today.



T O O  M A N Y  T W E E T S 

Most reshuffles are remembered, if they are remembered at all, for one memorable moment. Theresa May’s January 2017 shake-up is likely to be known for CCHQ’s decision to tweet, and swiftly delete, the appointment of Chris Grayling as party chairman as the job was actually going to Brandon Lewis. In a second error, the official No. 10 tweet naming Lewis to the job misspelled “portfolio”. 

While everyone’s eyes were glued to Cabinet ministers walking into No.10 to, mostly, accept the same job they already had, parliament returned from the Christmas recess.

Conservative health minister Philip Dunne told the Commons there were “seats available in most hospitals where beds are not” for patients who can not be found a bed in an emergency. Labour have branded the comment an “appalling and ignorant remark”.

And the row over Toby Young’s appointment to the new universities regulator shows no sign of going away. Tory MP Robert Halfon, the influential chair of the Education Select Committee, said Young had “dark and very dangerous” views on disabilities and working class people.

W H A T  N E X T   

Theresa May will tomorrow move to reshape the more junior ministerial ranks. It has been reported she will promote more women, ethnic minority and new Tory MPs in an attempt to refresh her government.

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The Resistible Rise Of Far-Right Extremism

Since the infamous retweeting of Britain First, the extreme far-right is dominating the news once again and we are now marking the anniversary that neo-Nazi organisation National Action was banned in the UK. Inevitably, they tried to circumvent the ban by rebranding themselves, so in last 12 months another two white supremacist groups have followed suit, Scottish Dawn and NS131.

The ban (proscription) is a tough piece of legislation; it means these groups are officially designated terrorist organisations meaning membership, support and even promotion of them is a crime and we have seen an increase in arrests for alleged links to neo-Nazism since the original ban was put in place. In an ideal world, we could prevent people from joining or supporting such terrorist groups and so in the UK we have a strategy designed to do exactly that.

Developed in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings, the Prevent Strategy initially focused on tackling recruitment by al Qaeda, the influence behind if not the actual masterminds of, the 7/7 attacks, but even in those early days many of our conversations about terrorism invariably turned to the extreme far-right.

It is a natural detour to take, with Islamist extremists sharing many traits with their far-right cousins: supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, virulent anti-Semitism and an immersion in conspiracy theories. The pathways to radicalisation can also be identical, involving similar combinations of social and emotional factors.

For many years, the most significant terrorist attack by a neo-Nazi was in 1999, by the London nail bomber David Copeland. He wanted to start a ‘race war’ by predominantly targeting members of London’s black and Bangladeshi communities in the hope of triggering a backlash of violent reprisals. Copeland is currently serving life imprisonment, having murdered three people, including an unborn baby, in a series of bomb blasts in Soho, Brixton and the East End.

Far-right convictions have continued steadily: Martin Gilleard, Nathan Worrell, Neil Lewington, Terence Gavan, Darren Tinklin, Ian Davison, Ian Forman, Zack Davies, Garron Helm and Thomas Mair, to name just a handful.

But it was on 29th April 2013, when a Ukrainian national called Pavlo Lapshyn took the life of an innocent grandfather in Birmingham, Mohammed Saleem, that the national discourse on neo-Nazi terrorism saw a sharp refocus. At the time of the incident there was no obvious motive or suspect (which would explain the disparity of there being no emergency COBR meeting convened) and so it appeared to be a brutal and senseless murder rather than a political act of terrorism. This is in contrast to the murder of Lee Rigby a few weeks later in which the killers gruesomely broadcast their motives and identities to the world from the scene of their attempt to behead him in public.

It wasn’t long before Lapshyn resurfaced, targeting more members of the Muslim community by planting bombs at Mosques in Tipton, Walsall and Wolverhampton. He was caught after thousands of hours of CCTV footage was painstakingly examined and during his interview Lapshyn confessed to killing Mohammed Saleem. Eight weeks after his tragic murder, Mohammed Saleem was now recognised as the victim of an act of terrorism.

This horrific tragedy was the catalyst that sparked an even more concerted impetus by Government, Police and Prevent to tackle neo-Nazism. Both James Brokenshire and Theresa May (then Security Minister and Home Secretary respectively) visited the family of Mohammed Saleem, as well as meeting the communities affected by the bombing campaign. The Home Secretary insisted she be kept personally informed of all developments and made specific mention of this “series of terrorist attacks” in a subsequent conference speech.

This was an unusual request by a Home Secretary, but to receive such personal attention from two of the country’s most senior politicians reflected the gravitas of the crime and the significance with which extreme far-right terrorism would be addressed. At the time of these visits, Mr Saleem’s daughter Shazia Khan bravely spoke to the media and was entirely correct when she said: ’It was an act of terrorism because he was killed for his faith and that is exactly what the police have arrested this man for, on terrorism grounds.”

Just six months after his campaign of terror began, Pavlo Lapshyn was tried and convicted as a terrorist and received a life sentence in prison.

It is important to reflect on the events that unfolded after this unspeakable act of murder because they were so fundamental to the Prevent strategy becoming more deeply immersed in tackling the extreme far-right as well as the political support required to drive this forward. And as we saw with the Finsbury Park attack, the recognition of far-right terrorism now takes minutes, not weeks.

Sadly, today our inboxes are filling with far-right cases with almost a third of all safeguarding referrals to Prevent being linked to this ideology. From teenagers celebrating the events at Finsbury Park, to young children radicalised by extremist siblings or relatives.

The overwhelming terrorist threat to the UK is still from those inspired by Al Qaeda and Daesh, but the figures show we are not blind to the reciprocal threat from the extreme far-right. I am grimly confident that we are seeing a resurgence of these groups going beyond online promotion and becoming involved in secreting weapons caches, attending military training and planning for a wave of neo-Nazi terrorist attacks.

Through the Prevent strategy we can successfully reach out to those individuals before they engage in violence and offer positive interventions to resolve the underlying vulnerabilities that make these ideologies so attractive to so many. A staggering 84% of people we support disengage from extremism.

Incredibly, there are some who are committed to derailing this vital safeguarding work but collectively we should challenge the danger this poses to our communities. Perhaps they too should reflect on the tragedies that can occur, the lives destroyed and who the intended victims would be if we miss that opportunity to prevent the resistible rise of far-right extremism.

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