Tag Archives: Conservatives

Can George Osborne still become Prime Minister?

George Osborne’s ambitions have long been common knowledge in Parliament. Furthermore the great political chess-player had seemed on course to achieve his aim and succeed his great friend and ally David Cameron into Downing Street, securing the front-runner status after the Conservative victory in 2015.

The Conservative victory in 2015 and the almost messianic status that Osborne received in the light of the win as a political strategist now seems a long time ago. Since then the former Chancellor has produced one questionable budget, played a leading role in ‘Project Fear’ and has lost his job with his reputation in tatters. Politically things have looked better for George Osborne!

So could this change in the future? George Osborne remains influential in the Conservative Party. Throughout his time as Chancellor he promoted many of his allies, some of whom now occupy powerful positions in the party. This gives Osborne a strong base for any future leadership contest. Added to this Osborne has begun to position himself as the champion of the modernising wing of the party. This gives him political room to exploit and allows him to maintain his influence and relevance in the new political landscape.

George Osborne remains young (he is only 45!). This gives him plenty of time. He has shown no desire to leave Parliament and has hinted he is yet to give up on his ambitions recently claiming he didn’t know ‘how this story ends’. Osborne can afford to be patient, even waiting for May to step down after a successful time in office. A vacancy does not have to occur immediately for Osborne to remain in the game.

The political situation in this country remains complex. Theresa May has enjoyed a solid start as Prime Minister but with Brexit negotiations to come things will become more tricky. Should May fail to take the party with her on Brexit, her position is far from insurmountable and a new vacancy may arise sooner than expected. In that climate Osborne’s experience could make him an attractive choice in what would be an open contest.

Much has to happen before this is even a possibility and we are largely talking about hypotheticals. However there does remain a plausible scenario where Osborne takes over from May as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister either after a successful May government or a failed May government. George Osborne has been written off before in politics and has bounced back, so when it comes to the former Chancellor, it is wise to never say never!

Beware the powerful back-benchers!

Over the course of the week new Prime Minister Theresa May completed her first Cabinet. There were several notable appointments, with Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary possibly the most eye-catching. A decision which caused consternation with in both this country and in Europe. Amber Rudd took over Theresa May’s old role as Home Secretary and Philip Hammond replaced George Osborne in the Treasury.

The other major story from the reshuffle was the brutal treatment of the modernising wing and those close to Cameron. There was no place for the likes of Nicky Morgan, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin and Ed Vaizey, all of whom have had big roles in the Cameron project and will now sit on the back-benchers. Gove was allegedly told being on the back-benches would be a good opportunity to show loyalty and Ed Vaizey made it very clear that this was not a good time to be a ‘Cameroon’.

As the new Prime Minister it is Theresa May’s prerogative to choose her Cabinet and select the team she wants. It is also worth noting that in these situations, you cannot keep everyone happy. Politicians are very ambitious and all believe they warrant promotions and can do a job better than the current incumbents. There will always be those who feel badly treated. Tory MP James Cleverly summarises the mood of many back-benchers succinctly in this tweet.

May is in her honeymoon period as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, but this will not last forever and ought to be careful not to make too many enemies, especially powerful ones. The Tory modernises are very proud of what they have achieved in government and will want to see the party continue to move in this direction and not swing back to the right.

In her opening few days and in her first speech as Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated she wants to follow this tradition praising the achievements of David Cameron. However in these instances, actions will speak louder than words. If May fails to back up her words with actions than these powerful figures could make life very difficult for her and with a small majority this could be very dangerous. There could be a new awkward squad on the back-benchers.