Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Mrs May's Ugly Duckling.

I’m sure everybody around the world is as excited as we lucky Brits are to learn that we now have a new Prime Minister. Cameron has gone and Theresa May is all set to become Empress Maggie II. Her first job, which she discharged without further ado, was to name her new Cabinet, and there are a couple of surprises.

Philip Hammond is to be the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. I gather he is known to object most strongly to spending on public services, and since that includes welfare – the Tories’ favourite bête noir – it seems reasonable to suspect that Mrs May’s pre-election pledge to make Britain ‘a better place for everybody’ might be under threat. Chancellors who object to welfare spending generally make the poorest people in the country even poorer, but we’ll see.

The biggest surprise, however, is the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. You might remember that Boris spearheaded the Leave campaign in the recent Brexit poll, and when Cameron announced his resignation in the wake of the Leave vote, Boris threw his hat into the ring as a candidate to become the next leader of the Conservative Party. He was then stabbed in the back by his friend Michael Gove, and shuffled away with a waddle and a quack and a very unhappy frown. I thought we’d seen the last of him, but no.

A swan? Me a swan? Aw, go on. Yup; despite having no government experience whatsoever, Boris has been handed one of the three highest posts in government by Mrs May, a confirmed Remainer. Methinks there might be a little Machiavellian politics going on here. I get a faint whiff of the notion that she is remembering the old and much-quoted rule for maintaining power:

Hold your friends close, but your enemies closer.

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