Theresa May’s cabinet marks ‘a sharp shift to the right’, say Labour

Written by David Singleton on 14 July 2016 in Diary

Right wingers Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel and Liam Fox are now in top cabinet jobs.

Labour has accused Theresa May of turning to the right after she made a number of eye catching cabinet appointments.

In particular, the new prime minister handed Andrea Leadsom and Priti Patel their first ever cabinet jobs.

Leadsom had moderate Tories fearing for their party’s future during the recent leadership contest. Before bowing out of the race after ill-judged comments about motherhood, Leadsom had made a clear pitch to rightwing Conservative party members by saying she did not like David Cameron’s gay marriage legislation and would want to repeal the foxhunting ban. She is now environment secretary.

The appointment of Patel as international development secretary has raised eyebrows after it emerged today that she recently proposed scrapping the department that was created in 1997 by Tony Blair.

Patel told the Daily Telegraph in 2013: “A long-term strategic assessment is required, including the consideration to replace DfID with a Department for International Trade and Development in order to enable the UK to focus on enhancing trade with the developing world and seek out new investment opportunities in the global race.” 

The MP for Witham, who used to work at lobbying firm Weber Shandwick, also supports bringing back the death penalty.





Also back in the cabinet are the staunchly right wing Brexiteers Liam Fox and Chris Grayling.

Fox is a former defence secretary and a hawkish Atlanticist. He has called for “huge restrictions” on abortion and voted against same-sex marriage. He takes the new created cabinet post of international trade secretary.

Meanwhile Grayling was denied the job of home secretary by Cameron in 2010 after saying that people who ran B&Bs in their homes should have the right to turn away gay couples. He is now transport secretary.

Labour’s shadow minister without portfolio Jon Ashworth said: "We had warm words from the Prime Minister yesterday on the need for her Government to stand up for more than just a privileged few. But Theresa May's appointments are completely out of kilter with her words on the steps of Downing Street yesterday. It’s difficult to see this new-look Cabinet as anything other than a sharp shift to the right by the Tories."

However Tory sources pointed to the elevation of socially liberal and moderate Tories such as Amber Rudd, who is now home secretary, and Damian Green, who is now work and pensions secretary, as evidence that May was not taking a sharp turn to the right with her new cabinet.


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