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Ministers tipped to push Theresa May for soft Brexit

Embattled prime minister under pressure to alter her stance on Brexit following Conservatives' poor performance in general election.

Ministers tipped to push Theresa May for soft Brexit

Ministers are tipped to push for a soft Brexit in their first meeting with the prime minister after a limited weekend cabinet reshuffle following the Tories' poor performance in the general election.

There have been promotions for both sides of the Brexit debate, though, with Leave campaigner Michael Gove returning to the cabinet as environment secretary while Remain supporter Damian Green, a close ally of Theresa May, has been named first secretary of state.

Green’s appointment will be a boon to those hoping for a softer Brexit policy, which includes access to the European single market, as he is expected to play a crucial role in the negotiations.

The reshuffle comes after May was branded a ‘dead woman walking’ by former chancellor George Osborne, now editor of the Evening Standard. May sacked Osborne after she won the Tory leadership race in the wake of his EU referendum defeat.

Tellingly Philip Hammond remains as chancellor. It had been speculated May would move him from that role in the event of a big majority at the election. Following his Spring Budget May reversed Hammond’s announcement of increases to class 4 national insurance contributions for the self-employed.

Green was secretary of state for work and pensions before the election. He has been replaced in that role by David Gauke.

There has not yet been any announcement regarding the future of Richard Harrington, the pensions minister. His is a more junior role and any changes to MPs in those positions is expected today.

Taking over form Gauke, the new chief secretary to the Treasury will be Liz Truss. Truss has been justice secretary under May.

Commenting on Gauke’s appointment, Royal London director of policy, and ex-pension minister, Steve Webb, said: ‘There are few ministers who could have been appointed to this role who know as much about pensions as David Gauke.  In his five years at the Treasury during the coalition he played a key role in developing the detail of the pension freedoms and was a keen supporter of automatic enrolment.  I always found him to be knowledgeable and willing to engage in discussion and debate.’

Boris Johnson, who remains in his post as foreign secretary, has scotched talk of a leadership challenge. The Mail on Sunday front page announced Johnson was poised to launch a challenge to May following her disastrous election result, while the Sunday Times also reported that five cabinet ministers had ‘urged’ Johnson to ‘topple’ May.  

Johnson tweeted: ‘Mail on Sunday tripe - I am backing Theresa May. Let's get on with the job’.

Johnson told Sky: ‘Theresa May has got by far the biggest mandate anybody has got for my party for decades. She landed by far the biggest party in government, Jeremy Corbyn did not win this election it’s absolutely right she should go ahead and form a government and deliver on the priorities of the people. I will be backing her and absolutely everybody I am talking to is going to be backing her as well.’

Earlier in the day Osborne told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show he thought Theresa May was a ’dead woman walking. ‘It’s just a matter of how long she spends on death row,’ he said,

‘We will know very shortly, we could easily get to the middle of next week and it all collapses for her or fi it doesn’t… it will be delayed, but be in no doubt, you have the leader of the opposition coming on the program as a sort of victor and the Prime Minister who is supposed to have won the election in hiding and that tells you volumes about what has gone on in the election.

As well as her cabinet meeting May must face her own backbenchers in a meeting of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs. This is expected to be an important challenge for her to overcome.

She is also due to meet the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in a bid to agree a confidence and supply arrangement which would see the DUP support the government in the event of a no-confidence vote and to pass budget-related measures.

On 19 June the Queen opens the new parliament and announces the government’s legislative programme. Brexit negotiations are also due to start the same day. 

3 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Jun 12, 2017 at 17:48

There are lots of people and organisations, including the BBC and has-been Osborne, who are telling Teresa and everyone in the UK that we must have a "soft Brexit".

Let us not forget that it was the EU who said that staying in the single market meant uncontrolled immigration, no control over our borders and accepting the rule of EU law above our own. The people of the UK voted to leave the EU precisely because they would no longer tolerate uncontrolled immigration and the subservience of UK Law. So if the EU thinks the same as it did, then so called "Hard Brexit" it is. So be it, and those of us who voted FOR Brexit will not accept anything different

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Alan Tonks

Jun 12, 2017 at 20:11

“Boris Johnson, who remains in his post as foreign secretary, has scotched talk of a leadership challenge”

Well, Boris is a joke as foreign secretary, but I think he will make a good Brutus for May!!

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Jun 12, 2017 at 21:20

The question isn't when Teresa will be ousted as PM, but just WHO is suitable - or wants to take on - such an incredibly difficult challenge. I don't see any suitable or likely willing (or foolish enough) candidates (including Mr Corbinovich); how depressing! Maybe someone will ask Mr Macron to apply for the job! - after all, he does like to take his holiday in England!

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