LONDON — With a stalled economy and a series of humbling policy reversals buffeting his two-year old coalition government, British Prime Minister David Cameron was preparing to make the first radical overhaul to his ministerial team since taking office.
Out of favor veterans and a host of middle-ranking ministers are expected to be shifted to allow Cameron to promote a clutch of younger legislators, while prominent Liberal Democrat David Laws may return after he quit the Cabinet in 2010 — just weeks after taking his post — in an allowances scandal.
Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties formed Britain’s coalition government in May 2010 after an inconclusive national election, are expected to announce a new team on Tuesday.
Britain’s economy has slipped back into recession for the first time since 2009 — with some analysts suggesting the government’s program of 81 billion pounds ($130 billion) of public spending cuts is choking off the prospects for growth.
A disastrous annual budget in March led to a series of policy reversals, denting the government’s credibility. Treasury chief George Osborne famously had to ditch a planned sales levy on hot savory snacks amid a public revolt.
Last month, Cameron abandoned a pledge to make sweeping reforms to Britain’s unelected House of Lords because of fierce opposition from members of his own party.
With pressure building on a number of issues, Conservative Party lawmaker Tim Yeo said last week that Cameron “must ask himself whether he is man or mouse.”
Cameron must decide whether to ditch his friend and closest political ally George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the senior minister in charge of the Treasury.
Osborne has taken the heat for the bungled budget and over the failure of the government’s policies to lift the gloomy economic outlook.
He has already warned Britain will likely need two additional years of austerity after the scheduled 2015 national election — a prospect which will dent the Conservative Party’s chances of a victory at that poll.
Housing minister Grant Shapps, 43, is a confident media performer tipped for promotion, while Maria Miller, the 48-year-old minister for disabled people, is expected to take a high profile brief.
Spiky newcomer Claire Perry, 48, could win a government post after impressing since she joined Parliament in 2010, particularly with a campaign aimed at restricting access to Internet pornography.
The 32-year-old Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson — a vocal campaigner on body image issues — is also expected to win a post.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who joined Parliament in 1970 and first served as a minister in 1982, could be asked to step aside. The 70-year-old jazz afficionado has angered some colleagues over his enthusiasm for European ties and recently ran into trouble when he suggested some types of rapes were more serious than others.
The 41-year-old Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet, fears she may lose her post as Conservative Party chairman and a roving Cabinet minister.
Despite his success handling the Olympics, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 45, could move on after criticism at Britain’s judge-led inquiry into press standards over his friendly ties to Rupert Murdoch’s son James.
Current Transport Secretary Justine Greening, 43, may be moved if Cameron plans to reverse government policy and allow a third runway to be built at Heathrow Airport. Greening campaigned forcefully against the airport’s expansion during the 2010 election.
Liberal Democrat David Laws is primed for a return after his humbling exit from the government less than a month after it took office in 2010.
Laws stepped down as chief Treasury secretary — the second ranking minister in the Treasury — after he admitted that he had claimed tens of thousands of pounds (dollars) in taxpayers’ money to pay rent to his long-term partner.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.