The Times’ Francis Elliott is reporting
tonight that David Cameron will "gamble" and will appoint Ken Clarke to
the shadow cabinet. In complete contrast, a senior frontbencher is
told that Ken’s flip-flop on cutting VAT means that he won’t return to the frontbench.
Francis Elliott also notes briefing against the rest of the shadow
cabinet; "The Tory leader believes that the former Chancellor is the
only senior Conservative, other than he and George Osborne, who can
command the media spotlight." Has anyone told William Hague?!
Last week’s briefings against Alan Duncan are said to be retaliation for his alleged briefing against Ken Clarke.
I was told today that there were five members of the shadow cabinet who would keep their jobs for now but would never get into Cabinet.
What is true is that this reshuffle speculation is raising the stakes for David Cameron. Iain Martin:
"The danger for the Tory leadership is that this
reshuffle speculation is now running all over the place and that if
very little happens, and less recognisable members of the shadow
cabinet who are not even household names in their own household are
merely swapped for others in a half hearted fashion, the cry will go up
of "damp squib"."
Thursday sees another big Tory policy launch – the first of a series of
agenda-setting Green Papers. It’s vital that these are not
overshadowed. If the reshuffle speculation continues to get out of
hand – and it’s undermining the morale of some frontbenchers who
already feel excluded from the small circle around David Cameron – then
the reshuffle should be brought forward.