May will spend Christmas plotting Cabinet reshuffle

  • Theresa May has lost third minister in six weeks after sacking of Damian Green
  • Prime Minister is not expected to replace her deputy until after Christmas
  • Aides considering whether to try to regain the initiative with a wider reshuffle 
  • Delicate balance in Cabinet between Leave and Remain supporting ministers

Theresa May is set to spend Christmas plotting an overhaul of her top team after Damian Green’s dramatic departure.

Downing Street sources have made clear the Prime Minister will not rush to replace her deputy, with a wider reshuffle on the cards for the New Year.

Aides are considering how to regain the initiative after the government was buffeted by the loss of three Cabinet members in just six weeks.

Mr Green followed Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel out of the door. 

Theresa May has now lost three Cabinet ministers over the course of just six weeks. Pictured is her team from immediately after the election

Defence Secretary Sir Michael fell on his sword on November 1 admitting his behaviour had ‘fallen short’ of standards after allegations he put his hand on the knee of one journalist and propositioned another.

A week later International Development Secretary Miss Patel was humiliatingly summoned back from a trip to Africa to be told she had to quit over holding secret meetings with senior Israeli politicians.

So far Mrs May has plugged the gaps with minimal moves, worried about upsetting the delicate balance between Leavers and Remainers during the fraught Brexit process.  

Crucially the Brexit War Cabinet – which oversees the crunch talks with the EU – has a strict balance of the opposing wings which she will be keen to maintain.

It includes leading Brexiteers Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Trade secretary Liam Fox and their new ally, the recently appointed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

On the other side of the argument are Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Damian Green.

Theresa May is chair and has the casting vote on decisions.

Damian Green, pictured left at his London home today, was dramatically sacked last night. Penny Mordaunt (right) was installed as Aid Secretary after Priti Patel was forced to resign 

Sir Michael Fallon fell on his sword as Defence Secretary on November 1 after admitting his behaviour had 'fallen short' of standards

Sir Michael Fallon fell on his sword as Defence Secretary on November 1 after admitting his behaviour had ‘fallen short’ of standards

But Mr Green’s departure leaves a gaping hole in this carefully struck balance and will spark calls for him to be replaced with another Remainer.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been tipped to replace Mr Green, although there is no rule that means Mrs May must have a deputy.  

Mr Hunt is a Remainer but has also said he would now back Brexit – meaning he should win the support of Leavers too.

Mrs May’s Brexit War Cabinet remains divided over how to approach the crunch negotiations, and the PM will be desperate to stop splits spilling out into open warfare while the UK tries to negotiate a new trade deal with Brussels.