If you look down our lists of Cabinet members and other Ministerial appointments, you’ll see a lot of blue. Not in a Party sense, but because that’s the colour code we chose to indicate MPs who supported Boris Johnson in the leadership contest.
So far, an outright majority of those appointed as members of the new Government were Johnson backers. That’s not entirely a shock: politician appoints supporters, to thank them, and wants a team of people who support his central and most controversial policy in place shortly before navigating choppy waters. But it’s fair to say there has been some discussion – not least over the case of Penny Mordaunt – of the impression that this Prime Minister has been rather more harsh on people who backed candidates other than himself.
The shuffle moulds the Government, most obviously. But don’t forget that it also moulds Parliament and the nature of the scrutiny the Government will face from its committees. Selectively promoting your supporters has a knock-on effect. Ministers cannot stand for Select Committee chairmanships, for good reason – so, in a nice bit of constitutional balance, the more Johnsonites (Borissians?) who are appointed to the Government, the fewer there will be available on the backbenches to stand for those committee chairmanships which must be held by Conservative MPs.
Add in the departure from the frontbench of various experienced ministers – David Gauke and Philip Hammond, for example – and the potential for trouble becomes clearer. The more loyal to the Prime Minister the Government is, the higher the proportion of the potential pool of Tory committee chairmen becomes who are, for one reason or another, liable to be somewhat more awkward. And it would hardly be beyond the realm of possibility for Labour MPs to be tempted to vote on exactly that basis, along with any disgruntled Conservatives.