Work and Pensions Secretary Runners and Riders

Stephen Crabb

The hirsute Welsh Secretary is on the rise and has been tipped by his delirious admirers as a possible future leader. Though Welsh elections are weeks away and Crabb has just made a massive balls up of the Wales Bill. He has the back story and is a Christian in the so-called ‘compassionate Conservative’ mould.

Priti Patel

If Cameron wants to placate the Eurosceptics then Priti could step up. She is however very close to IDS – note that intriguing line in his letter about “my team”. Does she share his concerns? She may see it as a poisoned chalice.

Anna Soubry

Super Soubs was being tipped by colleagues last night, she’s a competent media performer who could go out and defend unpopular cuts. A mid-ranking minister who has never made it to a full Cabinet post. Has a tendency to gaffe.

Rob Halfon

Fiercely loyal to Osborne and a leading ‘compassionate Conservative’. He has said he would never take a job if offered it because of his disability, though it would not be undeserved on merit. Has been in charge of attempts to rebrand the Tories as “the workers’ party”. Makes sense for a lot of reasons.

Matt Hancock

The minister for giving the government line could finally get the call up to a full Cabinet job. Would never knife his political master Osborne, which goes in his plus column. Has been nicknamed “Matt Hermaphrodite” by unkind ministerial colleagues. Why? “Because he’s both a c*** and a pr*ck.”

Mark Harper

A safe pair of hands, Harper knows the brief well having served as Minister for Disabled People, where he was responsible for PIP and ESA.

Greg Hands

What about someone from the Treasury? Hands is hugely loyal to Osborne and could lift the years of coldness between DWP and No. 11. Though if the job goes to Harper then Hands could become Chief Whip.

Boris Johnson

Boris is said to have been the most vocal opponent of tax credits at political cabinet, allies say he knows the brief. A senior Conservative source points out it would “solve a lot of problems”. BoJo’s name was doing the rounds among excitable Whitehall sources last night. Suspect he’ll be too busy washing his hair if the call comes.

Andrea Leadsom

Another rising Eurosceptic who is said to have desires on the leadership, Leadsom is in that rung of senior yet non-Cabinet level ministers from whom the next SoS could well come. Does Downing Street need an Outer?

Amber Rudd

Very close to Osborne, indeed his former PPS, Rudd has done solid good work at DECC and could step up. She did freeze in front of a hostile Question Time audience when challenged on welfare reform.

Liz Truss

Another name doing the rounds, she is another FoG (Friend of George) and will be up there if No. 10 wants a woman.

Sajid Javid

Certainly a reformer with vision. Yet another ultra-loyal Osborne ally. Though sticking him with the poisoned DWP chalice would hardly be much reward for him backing Remain.

Greg Clark

Another ultra-reliable technocrat who is a former Treasury minister and another ally of the Chancellor.

Michael Gove

IDS and Gove were the two ministers in the last parliament with reforming zeal. Gove subscribes to IDS’ moral mission of welfare revolution. Would solve the post-deal Euro-quagmire at Justice and mean the post goes to a Eurosceptic.

Realistically it could be any one of about 20 ministers…




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Quote of the Day

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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