LATEST: Ross Thomson for the India Office with immediate effect!
From TuS London Correspondent, L Thierry:
May’s exercise of patronage is bringing her ‘Scottish’ Tory WM cohort aboard the May Brexit deal. Remember – these folk have been considered unemployable in the payroll vote until now – see link and snippet from New Statesman article below:
Scottish Tory MPs are the big winners from a quiet round of government promotions
More than half of the 13 Conservative MPs from Scotland now have government jobs after a raft of PPS appointments.
The exodus of Tory MPs from government jobs after Theresa May struck her Brexit deal left the prime minister with lots of vacancies to fill – or deckchairs to shuffle.
While those ministers who resigned were replaced reasonably quickly, a raft of parliamentary private secretary positions – the first, unpaid rung on the ministerial ladder – were left unfilled.
In some cases, this was deliberate: Julian Smith, the chief whip, told existing PPSs in November that some positions had been left unfilled on purpose – so as to give him carrots or “poor man’s knighthoods” to wield before would-be rebels or to reward loyalty ahead of the meaningful vote.
Since then, appointments to the vacant posts have been made quietly, with announcements made at the discretion of the gigs’ recipients… Andrew Bowie, a
Scottish Tory elected in 2017, became Theresa May’s second PPS in the days between Christmas and New Year.
Otherwise, there has been radio silence and the government has not updated its official PPS list since September. The NS has learned, however, that a raft of appointments have been made with next to no fanfare from either the MPs or ministers in question.
Most striking, however, is the promotion of two more Scottish Conservative MPs elected in 2017 onto the government payroll. Kirstene Hair, MP for Angus, has been appointed PPS to the junior justice ministers, while Colin Clark, MP for Gordon, replaces Julian Knight at the DWP.
Their promotions – and that of Bowie – means that more than half of the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs now occupy a government job. (David Mundell sits in cabinet as Scottish Secretary while Hair, Clark, Bowie, Paul Masterton, Alister Jack and Luke Graham all have PPS roles.) The presence of Clark and Jack on that list is significant – last February, both signed a European Research Group letter demanding “full regulatory autonomy” for the UK after Brexit.
That they have been brought and kept inside the government tent in recent months reflects Downing Street’s hold over the 2017 intake and particularly the Scottish Tory MPs, only three of whom – Douglas Ross, Ross Thomson and John Lamont – will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement. The appointments of Clark and Hair to the payroll also mean that more than half of the 32-strong 2017 intake of Tory MPs as a whole now have government jobs. As all else collapses around her, Theresa May retains the power of patronage.
Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman’s political correspondent.
I wonder if wee* Kirstene Hair will have worked out how to vote by the time (if?) the ‘meaningful’ vote is held in WM next week?
Ed: Surely they’ve found something for Ross?
*TuS takes no responsibility for contributors’ abusive language.