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Whips try to soothe post-reshuffle wounds

17 January 2018

5:50 PM

17 January 2018

5:50 PM

If you thought the main fallout from Theresa May’s reshuffle was last week, think again: over the past few days the Conservatives have been appointing their parliamentary private secretaries, which means the reshuffle has only just about ground to a halt. These PPS jobs are unpaid but count as government payroll, meaning the MP in question must be loyal to the government as well as carrying a minister’s bag around.

The problem is that not every ambitious MP can be made a PPS. Worse, not every PPS can be made a minister, which means that there are a fair few Tory backbenchers and PPSs swirling around who are feeling a little sore. I understand that the Conservative whips have been inviting MPs who they think could have deserved a promotion had there been unlimited spaces into meetings where the spurned politician in question gets to ask whether there was anything he or she could have done to ensure that they rose up the ladder this time around. Normally, the answer is that it just wasn’t their time, which most MPs from the 2015 and particularly the 2017 intake can stomach because there have only been three proper reshuffles since May became Prime Minister. The next reshuffle is likely to be the one that really upsets these MPs, as they will begin to suspect that they are being serially overlooked.

But at the moment, the whips’ bigger problem is that they cannot get around all the MPs who haven’t been promoted, and have to make assumptions about who they think would in some sense deserve to be promoted. And if you’re an MP who has neither been promoted nor invited in for a debrief about what went wrong, then you’re likely to be pretty sore.

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