Cabinet picks: New PM must strive for unity in party divided by Brexit

Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling could be appointed deputy prime minister or home secretary.
Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling could be appointed deputy prime minister or home secretary.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is a favourite to be the next chancellor of the exchequer.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is a favourite to be the next chancellor of the exchequer.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid is also believed to be in the running for the chancellor's job.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid is also believed to be in the running for the chancellor's job.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne reportedly covets the foreign secretary position.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne reportedly covets the foreign secretary position.
Leading Brexiter Michael Gove is also seen as a candidate for foreign secretary.
Leading Brexiter Michael Gove is also seen as a candidate for foreign secretary.
Senior MP David Davis could become justice minister despite his clashes with Mrs May over civil liberties.
Senior MP David Davis could become justice minister despite his clashes with Mrs May over civil liberties.

LONDON • Mrs Theresa May's choices for Cabinet will require a balancing act that tries to maintain unity in a Conservative Party split between those who wanted to leave the European Union (EU) and those who backed outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron's Remain campaign.

She must also reward her supporters while not offending - or turning into enemies - Cameron ministers who were rivals for the party leadership or leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, often tipped as Mr Cameron's replacement.

Reports suggest she will create a new post to negotiate the best possible terms for Britain's future relationship with the EU. Speculation is running high about this "Minister for Brexit".

London's Daily Telegraph said the position could be ideal for Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling, a Brexit supporter, as a reward for serving as Mrs May's campaign manager. But The Guardian said he could replace Mrs May as home secretary or become deputy prime minister.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is a favourite to be the next chancellor of the exchequer, said The Guardian. Although a eurosceptic, he backed the Remain campaign. But the Telegraph speculated that Mr Sajid Javid may be Mrs May's pick for chancellor due to his experience as Business Secretary and readiness to engage with Brexit.

That leaves the current Chancellor, Mr George Osborne, who campaigned hard for Britain to stay in the EU. He is thought to be hopeful of being appointed foreign secretary, swopping with Mr Hammond.

However, the Telegraph suggested Mr Osborne could also be "Minister for Brexit" because of his experience in dealing with European leaders.

It also said former leadership candidate Michael Gove stands a chance of getting the Foreign Office post. The pro-Brexit MP praised Mrs May's candidacy, so the new prime minister may want to return the compliment, said the Telegraph. Mrs May may also want to reward former defence secretary Liam Fox with the job.

Senior Conservative MP David Davis, who has clashed with Mrs May over civil liberties, could become justice minister, said The Guardian.

Mrs May's previous post of home secretary could be filled by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd or by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said The Independent.

That leaves Mrs Andrea Leadsom and Mr Johnson as two Leavers who may be offered Cabinet posts. The Independent suggested that Mr Johnson, who spectacularly pulled out of the leadership contest, could take the Culture, Media and Sport portfolio. But the Telegraph speculated that his experience as London mayor qualifies him to be communities secretary or transport secretary.

Mrs Leadsom was set to face Mrs May in the final round of the leadership contest but pulled out on Monday. The Telegraph suggested she could be made business secretary.

The Guardian said she could also be children's minister, education secretary or take the ministry of environment, food and rural affairs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Cabinet picks: New PM must strive for unity in party divided by Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe