Is Coffey good for health?

Even though Liz Truss won’t start forming her government until after she has seen the Queen at Balmoral, many of the top roles are already nailed down. The latest dead cert is Thérèse Coffey, who will be Health Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister. The seniority of this role tells us a number of things. One is that Truss wants her strongest supporters close to her. Not only was Coffey pro-Truss from the outset, she is also one of her closest friends in politics. Linking the deputy and health jobs also signals that the new Prime Minister is taking the NHS backlog seriously. It would be a bizarre choice for a

Five lockdown questions the cabinet must ask

The cabinet will meet this afternoon, with more restrictions and even a new lockdown on the agenda. But have ministers been given the information they need to make an informed decision? There are rumours of briefing documents being sent around over the weekend with a pro-lockdown bias (i.e., heavy on the worst-case scenarios and not much said about potential side-effects). But the Times today reports that this time around the cabinet wants a full discussion — with at least ten ministers demanding a better quality of briefing before decisions are made that affect the lives of millions. The below is a list of questions that ministers need answered: 1. What

What will the next reshuffle look like?

Following reports over the weekend that Boris Johnson has threatened to demote Rishi Sunak to health secretary, Downing Street has today sought to downplay reports of a rift between the pair. After business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng used the morning media round to praise the Chancellor’s work, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson has insisted that Johnson has full confidence in Sunak. While it’s clear both sides are keen to kill reports of tension, they are unlikely to have their wish granted. What’s more, the comments have brought back speculation over a potential reshuffle.  As a general rule, all cabinet reshuffle speculation ought to be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. The Prime Minister has proved

Watch: Defence Secretary shakes hands on first day back

It’s parliament’s first day back, and the government will be hoping to restore an aura of competence, after recent U-turns from exams to face masks – but they have not had a strong start. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was spotted shaking hands with a colleague this morning, while on his way to a socially distanced cabinet meeting. Heading to the Foreign Office in order to follow social distancing rules – because there is more space than Downing Street for all of the cabinet to sit 2m apart – the Defence Secretary seems to have forgotten his own government’s guidance. And while people often make mistakes, it’s not exactly a good look for

Boris’s red wall problem

When Boris Johnson met with his cabinet in person for the first time in four months on Tuesday, his aim was simple: to boost morale. He was conscious that the replacement of normal meetings with virtual ones had led to ministers feeling muted. He believed that giving everyone some face-to-face time would help, and pushed hard for an actual meeting. Johnson won that argument, even if the cabinet did have to meet in the faded grandeur of the Foreign Office’s Locarno Suite to allow everyone to be socially distanced. This is not what Johnson’s team envisaged when he won his 80-seat majority in December. They assumed with a majority that

Cabinet goes full Zoomer

Over the last few weeks, we’ve all been getting used to the realities of working from home. So Mr S was pleased to see the Cabinet getting stuck in with remote working earlier this morning. Yes, secretaries of state and government ministers dialled in from their London pads and constituency piles to coordinate the response to coronavirus.  Downing Street mandarins opted for the popular video conferencing app Zoom (The Spectator favourite, if you’re interested, is Houseparty). Some have questioned whether it was sensible for the PM to post a pic of his assembled team alongside the digital code for the Cabinet’s online meeting. However, one intrepid journalist went a step further and attempted to dial