Good morning. Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of his new cabinet this morning and, while it is expected to discuss the government’s plans for a new post-Brexit immigration system, many of the attendees – like the rest of Westminster – will probably spend just as much time mulling over the implications of the events that led up to yesterday’s shock resignation of Sajid Javid as chancellor. The papers this morning are full of analysis – here is a take from my colleague Heather Stewart; I will post links to some others later – but, roughly speaking, the move raises four big questions about the future of British politics.
1) Does this mean Boris Johnson will now abandon the fiscal rules announced during the election, allowing him to borrow even more than planned for spending on infrastructure and public services? Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, is thought to be angling for this, and yesterday No 10 was vague about whether the government was still committed to those fiscal rules (which were already seen as a loosening from the Philip Hammond era). The rules were drafted when the Tories were expecting to win a small majority, and the scale of Johnson’s victory in December means the pressure to deliver for new Tory voters in the north is much stronger than it was.
2) Does this mean Johnson is emasculating the Treasury? That certainly seems to be the intention, and yesterday one commentator said the plan to effectively merge No 10 and the Treasury into a more cohesive unit amounted to the “most significant development since the creation of the devolved parliaments in 1999”. But most prime ministers try at one point to curtail the powers of No 11, and most of them fail. The Treasury may prove to be more institutionally resilient than Cummings imagines, and even if the new chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is more firmly under No 10’s line management, he stills heads a department stuffed with hundreds of clever officials who are professionally trained to tell politicians truths they don’t want to hear.
3) Does this mean Johnson is getting more like Donald Trump? In some respects, because the reshuffle had all the hallmarks of a powergrab, and the appointment of Suella Braverman as attorney general has gone down badly with defenders of the judiciary. But even though Johnson’s preferred model for leadership is probably Emperor Augustus, cabinet government still very much applies.
4) Ultimately will this reshuffle leave Johnson politically stronger or politically weaker? At this point it is impossible to tell. Some Tory MPs must be unhappy about the way Javid has been treated, but if they are, they have not yet been saying so in public. Johnson is so powerful at the moment that he can more or less do whatever he wants, but that won’t last forever and in the end the reshuffle will be judged by whether or not it delivers for the Conservative party.
Here is our overnight story about the reshuffle.
And here is a graphic from last night about the reshuffle. It features the 10 ministers who were allowed to attend cabinet before the reshuffle. No 10 has now drastically slimmed down those numbers and, in addition to the full cabinet, there will be only four extra attendees: Stephen Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury; Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the Commons; Mark Spencer, the chief whip; and Suella Braverman, the attorney general.
Here is the agenda for the day.
10am: Boris Johnson chairs a meeting of the new cabinet.
10am: Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Labour leadership candidate, give a speech in Salford.
1pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.
Also, today is the final day for candidates for the Labour leadership and deputy leadership to get the CLP or affiliate nominations that they need to make it onto the final ballot. Emily Thornberry is the only candidate who still has not hit this threshold, but three more CLP nominations today would get her over the line.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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