David Cameron believed in evolutionary change when it came to Cabinet reshuffles, and in expanding the number of people entitled to sit round the Cabinet table. Indeed, leaders will remember that he installed an extra table in order to make room for all those entitled to attend.
By contrast, Theresa May’s changes have been revolutionary. 31 people were entitled to attend Cabinet under Cameron; that number has come down to 28. That’s not a dramatic change in itself – though the extra table is gone – but the transformation is in composition.
Out go no fewer than 14 members of the former Prime Minister’s team: Cameron himself, George Osborne, Michael Gove, John Whittingdale, Stephen Crabb, Theresa Villiers, Mark Harper, Oliver Letwin, Greg Hands, Matthew Hancock, Anna Soubry, Robert Halfon, Tina Stowell and Andrew Feldman.
And in come Boris Johnson, David Davis, Liam Fox, David Lidington, Damian Green, Andrea Leadsom, James Brokenshire, David Gauke, Gavin Williamson, Ben Gummer, Karen Bradley, and Natalie Evans.
This is the biggest single change in Cabinet since we began compiling our League Table. And the result we’ve got back from our survey is an emphatic vote of confidence in it from Party members.
- Up soars Theresa May, from + 14 per cent when she was Home Secretary, back in June, to +93 per cent. David Cameron never topped our table. She has done so first time off. This isn’t a rise so much as an ascension.
- Up, too, leaps Philip Hammond. The new Chancellor’s last rating was -3 per cent. His support for Remain largely explains that score. But now all is apparently forgiven: his rating is +72 per cent.
- The rise of the Brexiteers. The rise of the Brexiteers. David Davis comes straight in at 69 per cent. Boris Johnson is in the Cabinet League table proper at 62 per cent. In comes Liam Fox at 61 per cent. Priti Patel is up two points to 50 per cent; Chris Grayling is down three at 46 per cent.
- Lower-scoring women. Justine Greening is on 45 per cent, way up from -15 pent. Perhaps her public open-mindedness on new grammar schools has heped her. But otherwise women tend not to score well in the survey. Amber Rudd is second bottom on 20 per cent. Leaver respondents are evidently still sore about that referendum debate with Johnson.
- A general rise in ratings. Last time round, Jeremy Hunt and Patrick McLoughlin were on 17 per cent, and Greg Clark on 11 per cent. Now the scores of these moderate Remainers are 30 per cent, 57 per cent and 49 per cent respectively. These ratings are best read – like Hammond’s; most of the returns; even May’s – as a strong statement of approval for the new Prime Minister and her Government. As far as these Party member readers are concerned, “God’s in His heaven -/All’s right with the world.”