Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UK: Update--PM Cameron Changes Demographics of Cabinet, Younger, More Female

According to The Associated Press, Britain's government became younger, more female and more Euroskeptic Tuesday (July 15) as Prime Minister David Cameron shook up his top team ahead of an election next year.

In the biggest Cabinet shuffle since Britain's coalition government took office in 2010, Cameron moved Philip Hammond from defense to foreign secretary. Hammond replaces William Hague, who surprised many by announcing late Monday (July 14) he was becoming leader of the House of Commons and will leave Parliament next year.

Michael Fallon, formerly energy minister, was promoted to defense secretary.

Education Secretary Michael Gove, whose school reforms have angered many teachers, was moved to the post of chief whip, charged with maintaining discipline among lawmakers and promoting the government's message on TV.

Several women gained promotion, including new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan; Environment Secretary Liz Truss; and Tina Stowell, new leader of the House of Lords. Cameron has been accused of packing his government with middle-aged, privately educated white men like himself.

Casualties of the cull included prominent centrists such as Hague and Kenneth Clarke, a pro-European Conservative who has served in government posts since the 1970s.

COMMENT: Critics accused Cameron of moving his government to the right. The opposition Labor Party branded the shuffle "the massacre of the moderates."

With an election due in May 2015, Cameron is eager to neutralize the threat from the United Kingdom Independence Party, which has been wooing Tory voters with its call for Britain to leave the European Union (EU).

Cameron supports staying in the EU if it concedes changes that Britain wants, but has promised to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017.

Cameron also announced his choice as Britain's representative on the European Commission. He chose Jonathan Hill, a former PR executive who was appointed to the House of Lords in 2010.