5 Conservatives who could replace Damian Green as May’s deputy

Green is out, but who might take his place?

1. Jeremy Hunt

For the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson, the current health secretary is the obvious choice to succeed Green. Writing in the Telegraph, Nelson has argued that Hunt should become May's deputy. I News, has also declared him as the front-runner.

Hunt has been health secretary since 2012, but is he ready for a promotion? The switch could allow the PM to install a more effective health secretary.

2. Michael Gove

Appointing Michael Gove first secretary of state would show the prime minister’s critics that she and her government are serious about Brexit. This heavy-weight Brexiteer was a key figure in the Brexit campaign, and his appointment would be a clear nod to hard-line Brexiteers in her party that Brexit is unstoppable.

However, Gove has just returned from the backbenches to become environment secretary, a role he has hit the headlines for. It might be too soon to move Gove from his current role.

3. Boris Johnson

Making Boris Britain’s first secretary of state would be an unusual manoeuvre for the PM, but there would be a certain logic to it. Removing him from the foreign office could end up setting Johnson firmly against May and set in motion events that could lead to her downfall. The fact the gaffe-prone foreign secretary has survived for so long just shows that May is worried that Johnson would do more damage on the outside than the inside.

However, removing Johnson but giving him the role of first secretary of state would not make him an enemy of May while also allowing her to appoint a more statesman-like figure in his place. On top of this, this would signal to the Brexiteers that the UK is on a clear path out of the European Union.

4. Philip Hammond

Giving Hammond the role of first secretary of state would allow the PM to move him away from the treasury and appoint someone seen as less negative towards Brexit. Such a move would keep the PM in Hammond’s good books while also allowing for a major shift at the treasury.

Michael Gove is still the betting markets’ favourite to replace Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer.

5. No one

Following the resignations of Michael Fallon and Priti Patel, Theresa May quickly promoted Gavin Williamson and Penny Mordaunt to their respective positions. The cabinet was full again fewer than 24 hours after each resignation whereas this time the position has been left vacant. Of course, the first secretary of state role is less heavy-handed than the defence and DfID positions respectively, however, May has the option not to fill the position at all. During May’s first year in power the position was not in use, as Green was only appointed by May following June’s snap election. Gordon Brown also opted not to use the office for most of his premiership as did Tony Blair in his first term.

This is one position in British politics which appears to be used at times when the political situation commands it. May has the option to leave it unfilled.

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