— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) November 2, 2017
I’ve long regarded Isabel Hardman (daughter of my former BBC colleague and friend, founder of CAMRA, Mike Hardman) as one of the best when it comes to taking the pulse of the Parliamentary Conservative Party and her latest piece on the reaction to the Williamson appointment doesn’t disappoint.
What stands out is that this is a huge surprise. Ladbrokes didn’t even include Williamson in its list of betting options this morning.
Those who watched July’s TV documentary on the last CON leadership race will recall that Williamson played a key part in TMay’s victory and has a reputation for being foul-mouthed.
He also has zero experience as a minister and is now running a department which oversees the massive defence budget which is a significant part of Britain’s GDP. Inevitably there’ll be many Tory MPs anxious to climb the ministerial ladder who will be jealous and that will make them extra critical. Re-shuffles however limited can be troubling times which is why Cameron tried to limit them.
This is from Hardman’s verdict:
“…The consensus seems to be that she has such a small pool of people who she knows and trusts that she didn’t feel she had anyone else to turn to, and this in turn has led a number of Tory MPs to agree with Gary Streeter’s assessment of the party, which is that it is starting to resemble the Conservatives in the 1992-97 parliament. Some of those who share this bleak view do still think they could turn things around, saying that all that really matters is that the party secures a good Brexit, but others argue that May’s handling of the scandal and mini-reshuffle have undermined her authority to the extent that it is difficult to see her surviving all the way to the end of Brexit..”.