Government lurches to the right as Cameron aims to placate Tory traditionalists

 

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The Independent Online

David Cameron shifted the balance of his Government to the right yesterday in his first major reshuffle as he promoted Tory traditionalists and moved to weaken the influence of the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition.

Conservative MPs hailed what some called "an anti-Lib Dem reshuffle" as Mr Cameron bolstered his own position with his rebellious backbenchers and sought to give the Government's policies a tougher edge.

Right-wingers welcomed the appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary in place of the more liberal Kenneth Clarke, and Owen Paterson, a climate change sceptic, as Environment Secretary.

Mr Clarke was demoted to Minister without Portfolio, acting as a "wise head". In an attempt to push Vince Cable into a more pro-business stance, Michael Fallon, the deputy Tory chairman, was installed at the Business Department.

The tilt to the right caused tension between the two coalition partners. Although Mr Cameron discussed the reshuffle with Nick Clegg, right, the Deputy Prime Minister was powerless to halt the Tory appointments.

One senior Liberal Democrat source said: "We are still governed by the Coalition Agreement. All decisions will still have to be joint decisions."

The Prime Minister paved the way for an eventual U-turn over plans for a third runway at Heathrow by ousting the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, who opposed expansion. She was demoted to International Development.

The Prime Minister did not always get his own way. Iain Duncan Smith refused to leave the Department of Work and Pensions, where he wants to fight Mr Osborne's plans for £10bn of further cuts in welfare.

Andrew Lansley paid the price for failing to "sell" his NHS reforms, with a demotion to Leader of the Commons. Jeremy Hunt was promoted to Health Secretary, a remarkable comeback after he almost lost his culture post this spring over his links with Rupert Murdoch's empire.

The Prime Minister's pre-election pledge that a third of his Cabinet would be women looked a long way off as he sacked Caroline Spelman and Cheryl Gillan and ousted Baroness Warsi as Tory chairman. She was replaced by Grant Shapps and taken on as a "senior minister" at the Foreign Office.

Among the Liberal Democrat changes, David Laws, who resigned as Chief Treasury Secretary in 2010 over his parliamentary expenses, returned as an Education minister. Mr Grayling's arrival at the Ministry of Justice signals a more hard-line approach to law and order. His predecessor, Mr Clarke, had championed a "rehabilitation revolution" in an effort to reduce the number of offenders behind bars.

From @NickJParry: "Now "Baroness" Warsi really knows what it's like to be Northern and working class – she's been made redundant by the Tories.".

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