Chaotic start to British PM's new year reshuffle


British Prime Minister Theresa May will begin year with changes in her government.

Worse than that, alongside the prime minister's willingness to move the health, education and business secretaries, a flurry of tweaks to other cabinet posts - shifting David Lidington from justice to replace Green; moving David Gauke in turn from DWP, where he had been for just seven months, into justice - suggested far from prioritising complex domestic reforms, such as the rollout of universal credit, May was unwilling to let anyone stay in post long enough to complete the tough task she had allotted them.

Even more problematic for the prime minister, Greening, who is openly gay and was a strong voice for the Remain campaign, could become a potent force in the soft Brexit alliance on the backbenches. And his new job as chairman of the party is a vital role.

But he will fill in for Mrs May at Prime Minister's Questions and take on some of the responsibilities for chairing influential Cabinet committees, including some relating to Brexit.

"One is to demonstrate that she did indeed have a degree of authority as prime minister - the authority that has been weak ever since last June when she lost the overall majority in the snap election that she called".

May confirmed on Sunday (7) that she would be making ministerial changes, but refused to disclose details.

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Mr. Lewis will take over from veteran Minister Patrick McLoughlin, who had been criticised by some members for failing to broaden the appeal of the party.

Her comments came as Downing Street sources indicated she would begin her expected reshuffle amid reports that a series of senior ministers are set to be axed or moved.

The new Tory team is a "recognition that the party and the government needs to reflect modern Britain and needs to be more diverse and cosmopolitan", said Giles Kenningham, former director of communications at Conservative Campaign Headquarters under David Cameron, who now runs communications consultancy Trafalgar Strategy. "And the second thing was to try to put in the domestic departments - the departments that are not dealing directly with the withdrawal from the European Union - put in people that would drive forward her domestic agenda", he said.

The reshuffle was meant to "refresh" May's team after a torrid 2017, when she called a snap election only to lose her parliamentary majority, and in which three of her senior ministers were forced to resign in scandals.

The reshuffle also saw the unexpected departure of Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire, who quit the Government on grounds of ill-health weeks ahead of major surgery for a small lesion to his right lung.