The upper layers of the new Cabinet have now been selected. I achieved a moderately good hit rate with my predictions, and although I'd suggested that Brexit was multi-part, the formality of it in the Mrs. May setup is sharper than I might have envisaged.
Critics appear to be saying that the new Cabinet is quite right-wing. If true, then it is at odds with the fairness test logic of May's first statements from the podium outside Number 10.
Her words seemed to be about inclusion and the jettisoning of the old privileged Eton chums and Notting Hill set. She used the Unionist word as well, which looked to be a grab across some of Labour's turf. I'll assume her honesty in these opening words.
How it will all work in practice leaves plenty of questions.
- The two part Brexit team drives two of the main elements - exit and trade. The third component related to borders doesn't seem to have the same emphasis?
- Boris Johnston (F.Off) is the potential third member of that group and is usually shown in the middle in TV photo reportage. A better option might be to simply put him on planes and send him a long way away?
- It also begs a few questions about whether Johnston is capable of operating under instruction?
- The two top Brexiteers are sensible positioned to ensure that Brexit has Brexit people running it. Some of the things that David Davis has said/written already might be at odds with how things work, although this might be genuinely about being an 'unreasonable man' in order to better negotiate?
- Interviewers keep asking detailed Brexit questions. If it is to be a proper negotiation, then some things will need to be kept quiet. I think Angela May understands this, but there's a few loose cannons around. Like in big business, a need for some confidentiality agreements, non-disclosures or similar. Some overt words about talking to press and embargoed content would not go amiss. Not the Official Secrets Act, which would be seen as too State specific.
- Hammond as Chancellor is a good idea. An agenda to borrow cheap money and develop strong infrastructure is finally in play, although that Hinckley 'Osborne easy picking' might be a bad decision and blow up (not literally because it will never be finished). The erstwhile ideology of free markets needs to be tempered by acquiring some proper industrial strategy. Hopefully Hammond has the nous to look beyond Osborne's Treasury fundamentalism before jumping?
- Some of the telly commentators are already saying that driving Brexit alone is a big enough agenda topic. I disagree and think that the added tracks of driving infrastructure, industry and non-London all seem like sensible and parallel tasks. Some are quite intermingled with what happens to UK as a new style of trading nation.
- There's some substantial re-organisations in the mix too. The logistics can't be allowed to impeded progress, it should not be about deckchair positioning. There's also a worry here similar to that cartoon showing the multiple office block for Brexit people at a cost of -er- £350m per week.
- Jeremy Hunt is probably on borrowed time. I guess that he wasn't the first choice for the ongoing NHS position and that he will need to do something spectacular to stay in position.
- Many commentators are lamenting Gove's departure. He gets portrayed as intelligent and as a reformer. I'll give him some credit for parts of Justice, but he messed up Education and it will take ages to unravel the damage. And his miscreant performance throughout the recent campaigns suggest that he should be kept a long way from power.
- Some people have been fooled by Osborne. Among other things they say he had a strong fiscal policy and promoted the Northern Powerhouse. I don't think so. His focus on austerity helped create the wreckage and was instrumental in creating hardships. His high visibility appearances around the country to unveil new locomotive nameplates or put a brick into a wall were accompanied by opportunistic speeches which re-used the same funds over and over again. Too many half-truths.
- I mentioned loose cannons. Letwin could be one. He's probably annoyed that his football has been taken away and now he's sounding off to the media about the lack of UK negotiators for the E.U. thing. I know he was part of Cameron's brain in the old setup, but someone needs to tell him to put a lid on it.
- A largely new team also needs to develop personal networks and because of the whole E.U. exit process, these relationships will need to extend far and wide. Just about all of the Cabinet should have a concerted role to play in that area. Work it.