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An underwhelming reshuffle — but there are opportunities aplenty

While there were a few impressive appointments to the junior ranks the cabinet itself looks almost identical to the one in place at the end of 2017.

    Lucy Frazer is the only Jewish woman in the government
    Lucy Frazer is the only Jewish woman in the government

    It was meant to be a reshuffle to strengthen an embattled Prime Minister and unveil a talented, fresh, young Cabinet to drive forward the government’s agenda.

    Instead, it was more of a “re-shrug-le” — met with nothing more than a “meh” from the massed ranks of observers, as Theresa May managed to oversee few substantial changes and no significant influx of women, ethnic minorities or younger ministers around the top table.

    While there were a few impressive appointments to the junior ranks — Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere MP, being sent to the Cabinet Office having helped run David Cameron’s Number 10 was uncharacteristically sensible of this government — the cabinet itself looks almost identical to the one in place at the end of 2017. 

    Jewish Tories, who prospered under Mr Cameron, remain largely overlooked. Theresa May’s latest government has as few Jews as the last. 

    There is no obvious, overriding reason for this other than the ebb and flow of ministerial movement. 

    Certainly there is still sufficient Jewish talent in Westminster.

    Robert Halfon, who was sacked as a minister by Mrs May after last year’s election and now chairs the Commons’ Education Select Committee, was on the airwaves earlier this week opposing Toby Young’s appointment to the Office for Students. 

    A former apprenticeships minister, Mr Halfon remains an influential voice among those Tories who feel the party offers too little for working class families. It will not have escaped his attention that while he was on the right side of the argument on Mr Young, Mrs May appeared to have got it wrong — again.

    There was little to get excited about elsewhere in the reshuffle. 

    Michael Ellis was moved to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Richard Harrington remains in his ministerial role at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

    Lucy Frazer, a Leeds-born former BBYO member, is the only Jewish woman in the government, having been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice.

    A QC, she won the South East Cambridgeshire seat in 2015 and held it last year, but has not been quick to comment on Jewish issues during her time in Parliament. 

    It was a former Conservative leader who made more of a mark than the current chief this week. 

    Writing in the Telegraph on Tuesday, William Hague advised new ministers that “the desolate wasteland of current British politics is the biggest opportunity in a generation”.

    The future leadership of this country is there for the taking. As one of the few Jews obviously on the way up, Ms Frazer may be one junior minister to keep an eye on.

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