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Reshuffle speculation, what reshuffle speculation?

By Mark Wallace
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It's a measure of how uncertain politics can be that on my grid of events likely to dominate the news on a particular day, today's date has the words "RESHUFFLE SPECULATION" scrawled next to it. 

For obvious reasons, the news agenda today is dominated by Syria instead.

As it was written a few weeks ago, and I don't have a source inside Assad's chemical weapons team, I'm going to take the liberty of forgiving myself. The near total lack of reshuffle speculation suggests that the ministerial rejig has been put off while the crisis (in Westminster and Damascus) boils. 

Even if it does occur, it seems likely to focus on junior positions. It's noteworthy that what little mention there is of reshuffling in today's papers features Alan Duncan and Sir George Young in very different tones.

In Duncan's case, the Mail's Black Dog reports that a Number 10 source criticises his "disloyalty", and the column speculates freely that this "doesn't bode well for Duncan in the coming reshuffle".

By contrast, in the same paper James Forsyth has been told that the Prime Minister intends to keep Sir George Young as Chief Whip despite last Thursday's fiasco. Of course the ideal situation is for no-one to be talking about your being replaced, and the fact a cabinet minister is quoted defending him suggests Young knows that all too well, but it seems Cameron is willing to quash rumours of an imminent replacement.

Reshuffle prediction often has a lot in common with scrying through tea leaves, but the order of beasts is seemingly intact - junior ministers will continue to feel rather more endangered than the kings of the jungle.


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