The post of Immigration Minister in 2023 has the potential to be as much of a poisoned chalice as the role of Brexit Secretary in 2018. Robert Jenrick’s departure last night created a difficult problem for No. 10. Anyone succeeding him would need to be unshakeable on immigration: a ‘sound as a pound’ right-winger, in the words of one Brexiteer. This morning we have our answer: Tom Pursglove, perhaps the most right-wing member left in Sunak’s government takes up the newly-created post of Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery.
In a classic bit of Whitehall jiggery-pokery, Jenrick’s role has been split in two. Pursglove takes the legal brief while Michael Tomlinson becomes the Minister for Illegal Migration. The latter move creates a vacancy in the Attorney-General’s Office, filled by Robert Courts after just 43 days as chair of the Defence Select Committee. All three men are Brexiteers: Courts quit as a PPS under Theresa May over her Chequers plan while Tomlinson is a former deputy chairman of the European Research Group.
Pursglove is meanwhile returning to the Home Office for his second stint at 2 Marsham Street. He previously spent a year there under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, serving successively in the Illegal Migration, Crime and Policing and Immigration briefs. This time though he is likely to find the role even more challenging than ever before.