David Cameron’s top team has grown to its largest after ministers including David Laws were allowed to attend Cabinet meetings.
A final list of the reshuffled Government showed that as many as 32 ministers are now allowed to attend Cabinet meetings, although only 23 are full members.In a surprise move, Mr Laws became the sixth Liberal Democrat at Cabinet meetings when he appeared at the first meeting of Mr Cameron’s reshuffled Government.Mr Laws, returned to the Government this week as a mid-ranking minister of state more than two years after resigning over his parliamentary expenses.Downing Street said he attended the meeting after Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, suggested his presence to Mr Cameron.
He is one of nine ministers of state who have been given permission to attend either some or all Cabinet meetings. The Lib Dems have only five full members of the Cabinet, and Mr Laws’s presence at yesterday’s meeting may antagonise Conservatives who had hoped the reshuffle would reduce Lib Dem influence in Government.A final list of changes released showed that 29 ministers – 25 of them Conservatives – left the Government in the reshuffle, far more than some had expected.
Several of the sacked ministers were awarded knighthoods. They include Edward Garnier, the former Conservative solicitor general, and Nick Harvey, a former Lib Dem defence minister.The reshuffle has raised tensions in the Coalition, with Lib Dems promising to resist any Conservative attempts to move the Coalition to the Right in its the wake.Some Conservative MPs have suggested the changes will lead the Coalition to promote more traditional Conservative policies in areas such as the economy, law and order, and the environment.Mr Clegg insisted that changes would not lead to any alteration in the Coalition’s policy or thinking.
The Coalition will remain in the political centre-ground, resisting Conservative pressure to move rightwards, he said.Mr Clegg said: “From day one this Government was anchored in the centre ground. We’ve got a coalition agreement which is there, which is a tablet of stone setting out what we are going to do. That is not going to change.”Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, went further, saying his party would use its place in government to stop Conservatives advancing some of the policies being advocated by Tory backbenchers.
The appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary has raised the prospect of the Coalition taking a harder line on human rights. He replaces Kenneth Clarke, who largely sided with the Lib Dems against Conservatives who want to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.A senior Lib Dem lawyer said the party would “watch Chris Grayling like a hawk”. – Telegraph