The prime minister is in a precarious position. Would a reshuffle help or hinder her?
The minor cabinet changes after June’s snap election – including the reappointment of Michael Gove – and the recent changes regarding Michael Fallon, Priti Patel, Gavin Williamson and Penny Mordaunt were done out of immediate necessity.
When it comes to reshuffling her cabinet, Theresa May has only done so in the past because she has absolutely had to do so.
One could argue that a large cabinet reshuffle in the coming weeks and months would also be down to necessity - in order to regain some lost momentum - but the decision would be up to her.
Should Theresa May make some major changes?
The challenge for the PM would be maintaining the balance between remainers and leavers. In normal circumstances, Boris Johnson may well have been sacked months ago, but having a Brexit big-hitter on-side does help the prime minister. Furthermore, she has probably calculated that it is better to have him on the inside rather than causing damage on the outside. Firing Boris could push him to launch a leadership bid that could result in removing May from office whether he wins or not. This is probably one factor stopping the prime minister from reshuffling her deck although promoting Michael Gove – perhaps to chancellor – would allow her the political cover she would need with the Brexiteers.
Another difficulty facing Theresa May is that she has angered many Tories by calling an unnecessary election. May has lost significant political capital and probably cannot afford to make major changes that would result in more disillusioned back-benchers.
At the same time, a major reshuffle would be seen as a sign of strength in the face of these factors. Removing Boris Johnson from the picture would show the country that she is serious about getting on with the tasks ahead and not having a gaffe-prone foreign secretary. It would also allow her to bring forward fresh faces from the 2010 and 2015 cohorts, a move that would show she is looking out for the future of the party.
Prime Minister Theresa May is walking a very thin tightrope. There would be some major advantages to a significant reshuffle, but such a bold move could also be the last one she makes in office.
The ball's in your court, prime minister.
Have something to tell us about this article?