By Paul Goodman
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Most of the Westminster Village won't judge David Cameron's reshuffle, now due tomorrow, by whether it's good or bad for the country.
Instead, it will find itself setting some other test for his Government recasting. I believe it will be whether or not the Prime Minister seems strong or weak as a result.
So how will the Village decide? Simple. It will look for a senior Conservative Cabinet Minister who was asked to move by Mr Cameron – and dug in his heels.
At least four Tory Cabinet Ministers have indicated either themselves or by proxy that they want to stay exactly where are. I count –
- William Hague: "I’ve always said for years that I came back into the frontline of
politics to do the foreign affairs portfolio – it’s not a new thing for
me to say."
- Ken Clarke: ‘The whips have been told in strong terms that it would be a mistake to lose him – particularly if it means promoting political pygmies.’
- Justine Greening. “I believe I am probably uniquely placed in many respects.”
- Sayeeda Warsi. “If I genuinely had a choice, I would like to
stay doing what I’m doing…I believe you’ve got
to have the right people in the right job"
– Furthermore, ConservativeHome understands that the following have made it clear that they don't want to move from their present posts.
- Iain Duncan Smith
- Michael Gove.
- Andrew Mitchell.
- David Willetts.
I'm not suggesting that other Cabinet Ministers do want to move. Merely that these are ones known to us who don't – usually because they fear demotion or even dismissal.
It is sometimes the lesser of two evils for Prime Ministers to
back down if a senior Minister threatens to resign when asked to move.
But not in this case. If Mr Cameron asks a senior Minister to move jobs, he or she refuses, and Mr Cameron then backs down, the media will answer "mouse" to the Yeo Question.
How would such news get out? There are many means. But remember: Nick Clegg will see the Prime Minister's plans in advance. So he will know if they change. Remember the budget.