It is the Sunday after the reshuffle before. Today’s papers are brimming with post reshuffle stories; and not of the kind that Downing Street will like. The Mail on Sunday reveals that Philip Hammond demanded an assurance that he wouldn’t just be keeping the seat warm for George Osborne at the Foreign Office. While the Sunday Times reports on how Owen Paterson and Liam Fox plan to ‘rough up’ the Prime Minister over Europe.
The animosity of the right towards Cameron is, perhaps, to be expected. But one of the most striking things about the reshuffle is that it has severed the emotional bonds between Cameron and the modernisers who propelled him to power. After Cameron’s brutal treatment of Michael Gove, it’ll never again be glad confident morning in Notting Hill.
By showing that he puts political necessity ahead of friendship, Cameron has changed the nature of his relationship with those who were, until a week or so ago, his closest political allies. If Cameron doesn’t win outright at the next election, they won’t be there to protect him from the vengeful right.
Those Cabinet Ministers who like the reshuffle argue that it shows Cameron has the coldness necessary to command. Indeed, it probably has increased his chances of winning the next election outright. But it has at the same time decreased his chances of surviving as Tory leader if there is another hung parliament. He is now a Prime Minister who has only conditional allies, not friends.