Wednesday, November 29

Sacked ministers warn Theresa May



Theresa May has been warned by sacked ministers that she must promote them back into Government within a year or face “trouble” in Parliament.

Senior Tories dismissed by the Prime Minister in the summer have privately warned their “loyalty” only stretches so far after being sent to the backbenches.

Some are ready to increasingly rebel over Mrs May’s grammar schools ban and Brexit priorities unless they are put back on the Government payroll soon.

The ultimatum, made in conversations with The Sunday Telegraph, is designed to make sure Mrs May makes good on indications there is a route back to the Government for those who behave.

“We have said we will be unflinchingly loyal for one year. But if they keep us on the back benches for longer we will start causing trouble,” one former ministersaid.

The warning came as it emerged leading cabinet ministers sacked by Mrs May in her brutal “purge” of David Cameron loyalists are planning for the long haul to rebuild their political careers.

George Osborne, the former chancellor, made clear he plans to stay in politics for “many years to come” at a recent constituency event according to one attendee. At a celebration of his 15 years as MP for Tatton, Cheshire, Mr Osborne is understood to have said he will continue serving the constituency long into the future.

“He made clear he is going nowhere”, said one person present.

© Telegraph Theresa May. CREDIT: REUTERS Meanwhile Michael Gove, the former justice secretary also sacked in July, has begun re-engaging with British politics after a summer of contemplation and skipping Tory conference in October.

Mr Gove has done a series of high profile interviews making clear he would be willing to serve again on the Government benches if offered a role.

Some 29 ministers left the Government after Mrs May took over as Prime Minister – a far higher number then her working majority in the House of Commons of around a dozen. The unexpectedly brutal reshuffle saw Mrs May accused of “purging” allies of Mr Cameron and Mr Gove, who ran against her in the Tory leadership race.

At the time there were warnings that creating new enemies on the backbenches when the Tories only have a slim majority risked undermining her ability to win votes.

It is understood Tory whips and intermediaries for Mrs May’s team have let it be known there are paths back to Government for those former ministers who behave themselves.

However some have grown impatient and are warning that unless they are promoted by July 2017 they will begin to cause “trouble”.

The rebellion could amount to holding back support for votes in the Commons or taking an increasingly hostile line in public, creating unhelpful rows with Number 10.

One former minister said sacked colleagues would remain loyal – providing they are rewarded with a Government job within 12 months.

Others think Mrs May handled the reshuffle badly and created tensions with backbenches who expected promotion and serving ministers whose careers were cut short.

“She did not handle it very well. People weren’t properly told [they were sacked],” said one former minister said of the reshuffle. “It looked like the message was ‘I’m sacking you for no other reason than for supporting Michael Gove’. If that was right, and I think it was, it is not the markings of a good leader. That was bad.”

“There were people who were dismissed who shouldn’t have been. One example of someone who was more than capable of running a department was Mark Harper [the former chief whip]. He was an excellent minister. I am a big fan of Nicky Morgan [the former education secretary] too. She is a huge talent.”

Not all those who have left office are frustrated.

Some say they are enjoying the backbenches as an opportunity to speak out on behalf of their constituents.

Earlier this month, Mr Gove opened the door on a return to Government by saying he would be happy to serve if called upon.

“If the chance came to serve again then of course I would happily say ‘yes’, but I’m very happy being on the back benches at the moment because it gives me the opportunity to do all sorts of other things,” he said.

Mr Gove has also reversed his public position by backing Mrs May’s lifting of the ban on new grammar schools and praised her stance on delivering the Brexit vote.

However his new role on the Brexit committee in the Commons and previously frayed relationship with Mrs May mean there are still barriers to a ministerial return.