By our calculation, the Cabinet contains four MPs who sit for Surrey seats (Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Philip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt), three from Kent (Greg Clark, Michael Fallon and Damian Green), and one each from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Sussex (Theresa May, David Lidington, Priti Patel, David Gauke and Amber Rudd).
So twelve of its 22 Commons members, a majority, represent seats in the South-East. All of these bar one are “safe” – that’s to say, they have only been represented by the Conservatives in recent times. The exception is Hastings and Rye, won three times by Labour during the Tony Blair years, and held by Amber Rudd with a majority of 346.
Three members sit for Greater London seats (Justine Greening, Boris Johnson and James Brokenshire). Of these, only Greening has gained her seat from the opposition – Putney, back in 2005. Add these three to the twelve South-East MPs and one reaches 15.
That leaves one each from Scotland and Wales (David Mundell and Alan Cairns), taking the total to 17. The five remaining MPs represent seats respectively in Derbyshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Worcestershire (Patrick McLoughlin, Liam Fox, Karen Bradley, David Davis and Sajid Javid). Only one of these grabbed a seat from Labour: Bradley, in 2010.
So only Rudd, Greening, Bradley and Cairns have moved a seat from the red column to the blue. And only one of these seats is in the territory where general elections are decided – Bradley (and the seat has experienced boundary changes).
For all the justified concern over London (Tory Progress held a conference to try to find ways forward over the weekend), it is lower middle class, provincial, home-owning voters who determine elections in Britain. Our columnist James Frayne is busy explaining why – see here and here.
Obviously, a Cabinet Minister’s life experience isn’t confined to the seat he or she represents. Consider the cases of Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Priti Patel, for example.
Nor could a Prime Minister seek to create a Cabinet that was representative of the country, rather than selected on merit. And Conservative Cabinets in modern times have looked much like May’s. But it is none the less a weakness that it doesn’t contain more members from the suburban midlands and north who have taken seats from the main opposition party.
If it did, more Cabinet members would feel themselves at risk electorally. Were this so, perhaps more of them – we cannot know – would leak less.
As journalists, we revel in leaks: they are our bread and butter. But as supporters of the Government, at least most of time, our view is similar to most Conservative MPs – who are bothered, bored and bewildered by the antics of some of the more excitable supporters of some of the leading contenders, none of whom are doing their favourites any good at all.