The gospel according to Boris’s government is that the last three years didn’t happen, and that anything that did happen, they are not responsible for.
Is this a Vote Leave cabinet?
There are more cabinet members who voted Remain than voted Leave, but that masks the true nature of the government. Boris, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, James Cleverly, Jacob Rees-Mogg are all Vote Leave alumni, but more importantly the backroom is stuffed full with them in the key positions – Dominic Cummings, Oliver Lewis, James Starkie, Robert Oxley.
It’s fair to say few people know Cummings – he doesn’t do small talk, and he would probably agree that he is mentally unstable (at least in public), but he is a ruthless operator, very hard working and extremely talented. The answer to the question “how is the government going to leave the EU” is “ask Dom” (he’ll tell you on a need to know basis).
Dom is hated by many, but all his fans are ardent supporters – and frankly will do anything for him, including working prodigious hours, weekdays and weekends – there will be no holidays in No 10 this year.
That team is working alongside the team from City Hall, led by Sir Ed Lister and including people like Ben Gascoigne, Will Walden, Munira Mirza – none of whom are Vote Leave ideologues.
Is this a business-hating government?
We have read many articles (and briefing notes from other consultancies) claiming this will not be a business-friendly government. To which we say nonsense – it will be a very enterprise and capitalist friendly, free-market government – but it will also not be afraid to tell business organisations that they don’t represent the whole of business.
The claim comes from Boris saying “**** business” (not made in public, but something that Boris has never denied), and will be reinforced by Dominic Cummings’ last stunt at the CBI conference, waving a banner saying “CBI: the Voice of Brussels”.
It’s probably true, to take one example, that John Allan may find it much harder to get an invitation to a No 10 garden party this Summer if he comes wearing his CBI President’s hat; but come as chairman of Tesco or Barratt, and he will be welcome.
Boris’s first appointment was Sky’s Andrew Griffith, who will be working alongside James Starkie in No 10, and his last appointment on Wednesday (at 2 minutes to midnight) was Kwasi Kwarteng as Business Minister attending Cabinet. Peter Cruddas of CMC Markets or Ben Elliott of Quintessentially is widely expected to get the chief executive’s job at CCHQ.
How will housing fare?
Robert Jenrick, a former Treasurer minister, is a good friend of both Boris and former Housing Minister Dominic Raab (and a friend of Thorncliffe). Robert is a corporate lawyer and never served as a councillor, so has little experience in the field of housing. He will be the new Secretary of State, replacing James Brokenshire, with his Vote Leave alumni Esther McVey as Housing Minister (her appointment is worrying the affordable housing campaigners). We predict Robert won’t be afraid to champion causes such as planning reform, stamp duty reductions, further release of public sector land, reform of Help to Buy (which he will think creates more demand rather than adds to supply) and releasing some of the lesser-valued green belt land. Indeed, none other than Jacob Rees Mogg published a paper this week proclaiming the benefits of green belt reform.