Reshuffling of Rory Stewart leaves hacks and MPs scratching their heads

Written by David Singleton on 9 January 2018 in Diary

Foreign affairs expert Stewart has been shunted over to the Department for Justice  - and nobody can figure out why.

For some Tory MPs, Theresa May’s treatment of Justine Greening was the worst part of her reshuffle. As one of their number told The Guardian: "May gives in to the boys but effectively sacks a woman born and raised in Rotherham, who went to the local comprehensive, who is bright and more than able, and who won a marginal seat beating Labour – oh, and she happens to be in a same sex relationship.”

Many more MPs raised their eyebrows at May's decision to appoint Maria Caulfield, an MP who opposed the decriminalisation of abortion, as Conservative vice chair for women. Labour MP Diana Johnson said it was “really depressing” and accused Caulfield of “arguing for women to still be covered by Victorian laws”.

But the move that appears to left everyone in Westminster scratching their heads most vigorously is that of Rory Stewart, who got shifted out his perfectly-fitting role as a minister of state working across Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. For reasons that nobody has quite figured out, the hightly-regarded Stewart - who is a former deputy governor in Iraq and a diplomat in Montenegro - has been made a junior justice minister.

“Of all the odd decisions in this reshuffle (there are a few), removing development specialist Rory Stewart from DFID/FCO to make him Prisons Minister has to top the lot,” stated The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn on Twitter.

The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour weighed in: “Rory Stewart one of parliament’s few foreign policy specialists currently writing new govt Africa strategy from perch at Dfid, is incarcerated as prisons minister. Act of spite or idiocy. No third option.”

Top Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith and Nicholas Soames were similarly baffled.

“Real shame to lose Rory Stewart from DfID / FCO. He is one of the few foreign policy experts in Parliament - from any Party,” lamented Goldsmith.

And an exasperated Soames demanded to know: “Why move Rory Stewart who was a brilliant Minister at FCO/DFID and a really knowledgeable abroad expert to Justice #Oh!God”





Picture by: John Stillwell/PA Archive/PA Images.

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