Britain’s Cameron Prepares Cabinet Reshuffle

The premier has to appease his right flank without alienating the Liberal Democrats.

British prime minister David Cameron is expected to announce a reshuffle of his cabinet after parliament reconvened on Monday.

The move is designed to reinvigorate Britain’s coalition government but the highest profile ministers are likely to stay in their posts.

The BBC’s Nick Robinson expects Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague to survive the reshuffle. Theresa May and Michael Gove, both Conservatives, will probably remain in charge of the Home and Education Departments respectively but “few,” writes Robinson, “if any, other cabinet ministers can be sure about their futures.”

The prime minister is “feeling the pressure of a new conventional wisdom,” he believes, “that his government is going nowhere, is divided and does not know how to stimulate economic growth.”

In The Mail on Sunday, Cameron admitted that “growth has been disappointing” and there is much to do — “to help our businesses be more successful, our young people more hopeful, our society more aspirational.”

Many Conservative Party parliamentarians blame the very nature of the government for the inapt recovery. The Liberal Democrats, they say, are blocking more comprehensive public-sector reforms and tax cuts that would expedite economic expansion.

The conservative newspaper The Telegraph disagreed, editorializing in May that the Conservative excuse “is beginning to wear a little thin.” It urged the government specifically to relax employment laws and reduce corporate taxes to stir job creation.

Such game changing measures are needed to inject life into a moribund economy. Instead, we have a disappointing and insipid absence of radicalism that is routinely and conveniently blamed on the intransigence of the Liberal Democrats.

David Cameron last year vowed to fight the “enemies of enterprise” and cut regulations but hasn’t. He knows that “the real solution” to Britain’s economic woes “is more enterprise, competition and innovation” yet one out of five Britons is still employed by the state which accounts for half of the nation’s annual economic output.

Even if the Liberal Democrats stand in the way of reform, Cameron cannot afford to alienate them for the Conservatives do not have a majority in Parliament.

Nick Clegg took a huge risk in 2010 when he entered a coalition with the Conservatives. Many of his voters have since defected to Labor because they consider the government’s policies too right wing.

With Danny Alexander, the treasury secretary, Clegg is probably among the most centrist members of his party. Therefore, Cameron believes he has to protect them, reports The Telegraph, if the coalition is to survive.

One source said that the prime minister believed Conservatives “need to protect Nick and Danny. We can’t have them thrown out.”

If Alexander and Clegg are ousted, Cameron fears that they would be replaced by more leftist Liberal Democrats who could be even less supportive of his government’s program.

At the same time, the prime minister has to appease his Tory flank. Chris Grayling, the employment minister, and Owen Paterson, the secretary for Northern Ireland, could be promoted in a show of force to the right to fend off parliamentary challenges. Whether such personnel changes will herald a shift in economic policy, though, is doubtful.