Theresa May looks for help from MP she sacked in 'awkward' meeting

Written by David Singleton on 6 March 2019 in Diary

The prime minister went crawling back to Robert Goodwill to fill her latest ministerial vacancy.

If anyone was looking for evidence that Theresa May has a recruitment problem, it doesn’t get much better than the appointment of Robert Goodwill as farming minister.

Goodwill is a former whip, transport and education minister who was sacked by May in her not-so-successful reshuffle at the start of last year. After licking his wounds, the Tory MP wrote about the manner of his sacking:

“The meeting with Theresa was shorter and actually rather awkward as the PM and I both started out as candidates in the northeast at the 1992 general election. We know each other well, although I wouldn’t say we were close. I actually butted in to say I knew why she had called me in and that I quite understood the situation. She seemed to be more upset than I was and we parted with a warm handshake.”

But now he's back! After George Eustice resigned as an agriculture minister, the prime minister has appointed Goodwill to step into his shoes. It’s a fair bet that the latest meeting was even more awkward than the previous one.

But beggars can’t be choosers. As others have pointed out, if you exclude MPs who have voted against the government over Brexit or been investigated for misconduct since the last election, the prime minister has just 27 backbench MPs to choose from when jobs come up.

In early 2000, Tony Blair could pick from 188 backbench MPs who had not yet taken part in any major rebellion.


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