After weeks speculation, Britain’s de facto deputy prime minister has left office.
On Wednesday evening, the BBC reported that Green had “asked to leave” the cabinet following allegations over pornography on his office’s computer last decade. But what does all this amount to?
1. The sacking is a serious blow for Theresa May
Green is widely reported for having been one of the prime minister’s key allies. The news of Green’s departure will not bring comfort to the already embattled prime minister. Green lacked significant Gravitas, but he was a reasonably effective performer at PMQs and the like, and his departure weakens Theresa May’s already diminished hopes of staying on as leader at the next election.
2. Three down, how many more to go?
Damian Green is the third high-level government official to leave the cabinet in fewer than two months. Michael Fallon resigned in early November over sexual harassment allegations, a decision that was followed by the departure of Priti Patel just one week later over undisclosed meetings she had had with Israeli officials while visiting the country on holiday. May’s government has been treading water since June, and this third resignation does not help the situation.
3. Who could replace Green?
However, unlike the two previous resignations, it’s unclear whether Theresa May will appoint a new deputy. Fewer than 24 hours after each of the last two cabinet departures, new secretaries were put in place in the shape of Gavin Williamson and Penny Mordaunt respectively. Last month, Conservative Home raised the possibility of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt or Justice Secretary David Lidington stepping in. However, it is now seeming likely that Green will not be replaced as the post is not an essential government role.
4. Is a cabinet reshuffle on the cards?
The Green-shaped hole in the Cabinet Room doors could haunt the government for months to come. Green’s exit raises the prospect of a cabinet reshuffle on a larger-scale. But does Theresa May have the political capital to make changes?
5. Brexit and perceptions abroad
In June, Prime Minister May asked the country to strengthen her hand for tough Brexit negotiations.
In early December, May overcame the first big negotiating hurdle without a strengthened hand, but at a time when the UK’s relations with other nations is crucial to securing a Brexit deal, Green’s departure is not making the government look stable to outside observers. This could have significant consequences for Brexit talks.