Why reshuffle speculation has hit fever pitch

Boris Johnson is reported to be clearing his diary on Thursday to make cabinet appointments, writes John Rentoul

Sunday 05 September 2021 21:30
<p>Are you the chap getting lots of emails saying you should be sacked?</p>

Are you the chap getting lots of emails saying you should be sacked?

There is usually a certain amount of speculation about a cabinet reshuffle at this time of year. With parliament about to return from recess there is often talk of the prime minister freshening up the top team for the new political season. But such gossip was promoted to front-page news by a half-sentence in an article by Tim Shipman, The Sunday Times’s political editor: “Two Downing Street sources have claimed that the prime minister’s diary is then set to be cleared on Thursday for a possible reshuffle.”

Two other things have added to the ferment. One was the publication of its monthly survey of Conservative Party members by the website Conservative Home. Its league table of net satisfaction ratings for cabinet ministers is keenly watched, not least by cabinet ministers and their staff. The surveys have proved to be quite accurate in predicting how party members will vote in leadership elections, and the findings are so volatile they are almost guaranteed to attract attention.

In the previous month’s poll, the shock was the collapse in the prime minister’s rating; in the latest one, it is Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, who is in the stocks. His rating has gone from plus 73 to plus 6, only just in positive territory, after the embarrassment of being on holiday as Kabul fell. He is now ahead of only Robert Jenrick (housing secretary), Amanda Milling (party chair) and Gavin Williamson (education secretary).

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