The Tory leadership is not best pleased with James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister whose ill-judged speech turned a media spotlight onto the Cameron’s nanny. There are mutterings in Downing Street about the speech having being submitted for clearance very late. But Number 10 can’t escape its share of the blame for this fiasco.
First, the speech should never have been cleared. The problems it would cause were obvious, which is why one Lib Dem tells me ‘we all fell out about laughing when we read it.’ Second, Brokenshire should never have been appointed to this job.
When Mark Harper resigned as immigration minister because his clearner was working in the UK illegally, something that should have made Brokenshire realise how politically reckless his speech was, Cameron went for the easy option and simply bumped Brokenshire, the junior Home Office Minister, up a notch. As with Cameron's apppointment of Sir George Young as chief whip when Andrew Mitchell resigned this limited the number of other ministerial changes that Cameron needed to make.
This might have been a quick and easy solution but it was, as it was in Sir George Young's case, the wrong one. As one minister who is a Cameron loyalist complained to me last week, ‘Immigration is one of the four big subjects for the next year. You need to put a grown-up there.’ By sending someone to do this job who has a tin-ear for politics, Cameron has made a rod for his own back.