Theresa May hints she is poised to sack disloyal cabinet ministers in reshuffle

Prime Minister vows there is ‘no such thing as an unsackable minister’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 19 July 2017 16:38 BST
Theresa May hinted that a Cabinet reshuffle is looming
Theresa May hinted that a Cabinet reshuffle is looming (Reuters)

Theresa May hinted she is poised to sack disloyal ministers, when she said she was keeping her rebellious Cabinet in place “at the moment”.

The Prime Minister told an LBC radio interview there is “no such thing as an unsackable minister”, suggesting she is about to punish colleagues who have angered her.

“At the moment the team is together and we’re getting on with the job of delivering what we believe the British people want us to do,” she said.

The comments came after Ms May mistakenly told MPs in the Commons: “As we approach the reshuffle” – before correcting herself to say “recess”.

In the interview, the Prime Minister also put pressure on the Church of England to accept equal marriage in churches and gay married clergymen, saying it should “reflect as attitudes change”.

She said she “understands why people are concerned about some of the policies the DUP promotes” – while defending the £1bn deal for the party to prop her up in power.

And she criticised the BBC for paying its women stars far less than the men, saying: “I want to see women paid equally.”

A more confident Prime Minister flexed her muscles after backbench MPs gave her their backing to carry out any sackings she believes are necessary.

Charles Walker, a vice-chairman of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 committee, said it would support firing ministers who were “focusing on their own personal ambitions”.

He spoke out after leaks of alleged comments by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who was accused of sexist comments about female train drivers and of saying public sector workers are “overpaid”.

In the interview, Ms May condemned “reported conversations that have taken place at a cabinet meeting”, arguing they must remain private.

“People should accept collective responsibility when decisions are taken, they are government decisions,” she said.

Asked if she would “sack anyone who does this again”, she replied: “There is no such thing as an “unsackable” minister but, at the moment, the team is together.”

Asked if even the most senior ministers are unsackable, the Prime Minister said: “No.”

Ms May was also asked why she had changed her mind on gay marriage, she remembered a gay couple “in my own village” whose wedding she had attended.

“I’ll be honest, my attitude on a number of these issues has changed over the years,” she acknowledged.

On the DUP deal, she said: “We don’t agree with them on some of these approaches they take, like to same-sex marriage,” – insisting the Government would still “push forward” on such issues.

“We want to do more and that won’t be changed by our relationship with the DUP which, of course, isn’t a formal coalition,” Ms May said.

However, the Prime Minister declined two invitations to say her Brexit negotiating position was “stronger than it was before the election”.

She claimed: “I’m fighting for what’s good for the UK, but I think what’s good for us is also good for the EU.

“I think that’s why this is a negotiation of two sides, coming together to find a way through a process that hasn’t been used before.”

The Prime Minister also revealed her summer holiday plans, saying: “I think there are many people who are grateful I’m going to the Alps and not to Wales again.”

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