Prime minister

Theresa May will be looking to appoint a unity cabinet with a good mix of ministers who supported leave and remain. She will also need to keep an eye on gender balance, ethnicity and social background if she is serious about running a government that is more representative of the country. The big question is whether she will broadly keep people in their current jobs or attempt a clearout that installs some new faces.

One Tory MP familiar with May’s thinking said trust mattered to her hugely, so those who have worked with her in the past are likely to be rewarded.

Big hitters expecting a big job

Philip Hammond, currently foreign secretary, is a favourite to be the next chancellor if May decides to move George Osborne. Known affectionately among Tory advisers as “Big Phil”, he has been characterised as a safe and boring pair of hands. But that could be what May is seeking in a chancellor, after Osborne was forced into U-turns last year on tax credits and disability benefit cuts. Hammond has also proved a strong ally for May in recent days, dismissing the suggestion that motherhood made anyone a better leader and claiming foreign leaders had never heard of Andrea Leadsom.

George Osborne poses a problem for May because he did not resign along with David Cameron, despite having run the remain campaign hand in hand with the outgoing prime minister. Realistically he could only be either kept in the job or moved to the post of foreign secretary without it seeming like a demotion. But Brexiters would be deeply unhappy about negotiations with the EU being conducted by a man who claimed leaving would necessitate a punishment budget of brutal cuts and tax rises. One way around this could be to remove EU negotiations from the role of foreign secretary and set up a department for Brexit. Another option would be to signal it is time for Osborne to spend some time on the backbenches with his old friend Cameron.

Chris Grayling, a prominent Brexiter and currently leader of the Commons, chaired May’s campaign and will be expecting a reward for his loyalty. He was moved sideways and downwards by Cameron but is thought to still hanker after a big job. He was denied the post of home secretary after saying during the 2010 election campaign that people who ran B&Bs in their homes should have the right to turn away gay couples. But this time he could get the job or a newly created role of deputy prime minister.

Chris Grayling (centre)
Chris Grayling (centre), speaks following Andrea Leadsom’s decision to pull out of the Tory leadership campaign. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Fresh faces

Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire, Mark Harper and Damian Green all worked for May in the Home Office and could be in line for cabinet promotions or senior minister of state jobs if some room is cleared at the top.

Margot James was an early supporter of May and is widely regarded as a talented figure in the party who was overlooked by Cameron. She would be suited to a role as development secretary or a ministerial job in the Foreign Office.

Harriett Baldwin has impressed as City minister and could be in line for a promotion in that department. Alok Sharma is another tipped for the Treasury.

Alan Duncan was also one of May’s first cheerleaders and could make a return to the ministerial ranks or a party job such as chairman. Brandon Lewis, Michael Ellis, Gavin Williamson, Sam Gyimah, Richard Harrington and Gavin Williamson have been key in May’s campaign and are all likely to get key promotions.

Margot James
Margot James is widely seen as a talented figure in the party who May could recognise. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Cabinet hopefuls

Justine Greening – The development secretary is a longstanding cabinet member who has done time in the Treasury, served as transport secretary and most recently international development secretary. She was an early backer and key supporter of May who could well get a more prominent job, perhaps as education secretary or health secretary.

Amber Rudd – The energy secretary came out early as a supporter of May and is seen as an impressive performer in the cabinet. She took part in one of the Brexit television debates, tearing into Boris Johnson’s character as well as his policies. If May wants more senior women, she would be one of the first in line for a promotion.

Stephen Crabb – Has positioned himself as a serious player by running for the leadership and then dropping out quickly to get behind May’s campaign. He may be hoping to keep his job as work and pensions secretary, but negative publicity around lewd texts sent to a young woman could have harmed his chances.

Liz Truss – A remainer who originally backed Boris Johnson before switching to May, she is currently environment secretary but has strong interests in education where she used to be a junior minister and championed higher standards in science and maths.

Nicky Morgan – Backed Michael Gove rather than May, unlike many of her female colleagues, but is still considered a talent at the top of the Tory party. If not kept as education secretary, she could return to the Treasury as chief secretary or even chancellor if May decides she wants a senior woman in that department for the first time.

Sajid Javid – The business secretary is a key ally of Osborne who has come in for criticism over his handling of the Tata steel crisis. May made clear she wanted an industrial policy, which Javid has not been quick to espouse in the role. However, he has stated “one nation” beliefs as a backer of Crabb and has an unusual background for a Tory, so May is probably likely to keep him on in some prominent position – perhaps back in the Treasury or maybe as transport secretary.

Liz Truss, George Osborne, Amber Rudd and Stephen Crabb
(From left) Liz Truss, George Osborne, Amber Rudd and Stephen Crabb. Photograph: Matt Cardy/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit bunch

Liam Fox – Resigned as defence secretary in 2011 under a cloud over questions about the access given to his friend and unofficial adviser Adam Werritty, but Fox is known to feel he has done his penance. By running as a leadership candidate, he has made clear he is ready for another big role and May has signalled he is a valued part of her team as he introduced her first big speech on Monday. His dream job is likely to be foreign secretary. However, as a Brexiter, he could end up with a role in the new department in charge of leaving the EU or perhaps back in defence.

David Davis – Another senior Tory whose ambitions were frustrated under Cameron, having resigned as shadow home secretary in protest over civil liberties in 2008. Despite clashes with May over the same subject, he has been tipped as a lead negotiator to help take the UK out of the EU. Given his interest in civil liberties, though, it is possible he could end up in the Ministry of Justice, if May decides to punish Gove.

Andrea Leadsom – May will surely give her shortlived rival some kind of job for the sake of unity. Leadsom got into trouble over her comments about motherhood, implying it gave her a greater stake in society. But parenting and babies are really where her interests lie, so May could do worse than offer her a job as a children’s minister or even education secretary. On the other hand, May could hand her the hospital pass of dealing with the environment department, which will have to design and implement a new system of allocating funding to farmers.

Priti Patel – Another leading Brexiter, Patel could be a good fit for work and pensions secretary, as she is currently employment minister.

Michael Gove – Could go either way, depending on how conciliatory May is feeling. He has previously been mooted as deputy prime minister in a unity cabinet or could be kept on as justice secretary, given he is only part-way through some modernising reforms. However, it is just as likely he could be axed altogether given his bad blood with May in the past over terrorism and the value she places on trust, given his less than loyal behaviour in the aftermath of Brexit.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove’s future could depend on how conciliatory the new prime minister is feeling. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Boris Johnson – It is not inconceivable that May could try to bring Johnson into the fold, despite her withering putdown about his purchase of useless secondhand water cannon from Germany when he was London mayor. A role such as culture secretary would not give him too much power but bring him into the top team.

Iain Duncan Smith – Is closely associated with the Leadsom campaign and made some wounding claims about May’s supporters taking part in dirty tricks against his candidate. But he might be less of a nuisance to May inside her tent than outside, maybe as leader of the House of Commons.

Theresa Villiers – Is the only woman apart from May to have survived in Cameron’s cabinet for the full six years. Despite being a Brexiter and a supporter of Leadsom, she could well be kept on in the Northern Ireland Office at what is likely to be a difficult time.

Closest aides – Advisers who could make it into Downing Street with May include Fiona Hill, May’s former director of communication, who resigned over a controversy with Gove, Nick Timothy, her former chief of staff, and Liz Sanderson, her media spokeswoman. Some Vote Leave staff, including Stephen Parkinson, a former policy adviser who led the Brexit ground campaign, and Lizzie Loudon, a former spokeswoman for Duncan Smith and Vote Leave, have also been working on May’s leadership campaign.


Rowena Mason Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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