British politics moves at remarkable speed. With the results of the election hot off the press, Boris will be expected to fully constitute his Government in the coming days.
The Conservatives pledge to ‘get Brexit done’ (you may have heard about this) and the imminent return of MPs to Parliament, further heightens the urgency.
As we’ve blogged elsewhere, while the result of the election is clear, the fight for influence has only just begun. Two distinct factions are battling to become the power behind Boris’s throne. One favours a popularism and is sceptical about big business and internationalism. The other believes in a smaller state, is pro-business and champions free markets.
The Conservative Party will always be a broad church. No one faction can dominate entirely. However, as early as this weekend, indications will start to emerge suggesting where the balance of power is headed.
Here’s just five things to look out for.
- Where does Gove go? As Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Gove is responsible for no-deal planning. With a deal on the table and a Parliamentary majority, the role is diminished(?). The Prime Minister will be looking to move him on. Where he lands will be significant for the popularist faction he effectively leads.
- Early budget briefings? If a budget is to come before Christmas, expect the new treasury team to start briefing out ‘oven ready’ crumbs over the weekend or early next week. Talk of tax cutting with give the small state faction a ray of hope that the General Election didn’t.
- Baroness Morgan? If Nicky Morgan is elevated to the upper house and secures a role in Government this is more than Boris retaining the services of a competent minister. It’s a sign that he knows he needs a party negotiator at his disposal.
- Hunt’s return? Many wish to see the former foreign secretary make a front-bench come back. If Boris can find space for him, it will boost the hopes of the pro-business faction.
- A role for May? The former Prime Minister is sticking around for a reason and has bent over backwards to prove her loyalty. While a return to cabinet is unlikely, there could be an advisory role in the offing. If there is, it’s another sign that Boris is prepared to extend an olive branch – and that he’ll expect members of warring factions to do the same.