Cabinet Reshuffle: Well, That Escalated Quickly
It’s amazing how quickly things change. I had planned to write a blog today about how the Government was neglecting housing by sacking yet another housing minister. However, today’s cabinet reshuffle took a bit of a dramatic turn with the surprise resignation of Sajid Javid (Chancellor In Name Only – ChINO– not the trousers before you ask). He becomes only the second Chancellor in history not to have delivered a Budget, having only been in post for seven months.
Javid’s departure follows revelations that many of his Special Advisors (SpAds) were due to be sacked as part of plans for Number 10 to take a far more active role in the drafting of next month’s Budget and a greater centralisation of power.
There is a logical, if not brutal, rationale for this when you look at recent UK political history and the friction between a Prime Minister and their Chancellor (excluding the relatively harmonious relationship between Cameron and Osborne). The dynamic between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown resulted in clear spheres of influence in Government; and I have no doubt that Theresa May would have acted very differently if she was in a position to sack Philip Hammond after the 2017 General Election.
This is not to say that the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is going to be ChINO, although its fair to say that the ongoing shift by the Government to advocate high levels of public spending is set to continue. I wouldn’t be surprised if next month’s Budget contains further high-profile infrastructure and other large spending commitments as part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
Today has also seen other high-profile changes with Julian Smith being dismissed as Northern Ireland Secretary despite his work on restoring power-sharing to Stormont, as well as Geoffrey Cox as Attorney General.
However, it is the issue of housing where yet again, despite the UK facing a housing crisis, the Government has managed to change the minister in charge no less than 10 times over the last decade – with the long-term impermanence of the post shown in stark terms by our infographic below:
With that being said, we could see major changes on the planning policy front, with Jack Airey, one of the co-authors of a controversial report by Policy Exchange being appointed as a planning special advisor in Number 10. It’s worth having a look at my previous blog on this report as, amongst other things, it talks about the abolition of planning committees and a major overhaul of plan making.