Boris Johnson has a way of bringing back former Cabinet Ministers to a lower rank in government. Consider the case of fellow-Vote Leaver John Whittingdale, dismissed as Culture Secretary by Theresa May in 2016, but returned by the Prime Minister to his old department as a Minister of State in 2020.
The former Chairman of the Culture Select Committee knows the political aspects of media policy inside-out, and his specialist knowledge will have been considered to be a useful support for Oliver Dowden.
The circumstances of James Brokenshire’s return were different. He left the Cabinet voluntarily in 2018 as Northern Ireland Secretary after requiring surgery for lung cancer. Johnson brought this former Home Office Minister back in 2020 to provide Priti Patel with the same kind of experienced back-up that Whittingdale is giving Dowden.
Last month, Brokenshire was forced to stand down again because his recovery is taking “longer than anticipated”, and we wish him well. Today, Johnson has replaced him with another former Cabinet Minister, Damian Hinds.
Unlike Whittingdale and Brokenshire, Hinds is not returning to his former department. But his return serves two main purposes. First, appointing from outside the Government keeps changes to a minimum. Second, it is a signal to former Ministers that if they are fired, but then keep their nose clean, there is always a chance of coming back.
So it is that the Prime Minister first dismissed Hinds as Education Secretary in 2019…and has now brought him back. He will knuckle down to the heavy responsibility that comes with being the Security Minister.