Revolt of ‘the male, pale and stale’ Ministers: Tories accuse Boris Johnson of ‘tokenism over talent’ as he plans a ‘women-first’ reshuffle this summer
- Tory male ministers angrily accuse PM of plan to favour ‘tokenism over talent’
- Boris Johnson is under pressure to move more women up the ministerial ladder
- The row broke amid fevered speculation in Tory ranks on who will get promoted
Boris Johnson faces a male Ministers’ revolt over fears they will lose their jobs in a ‘women first’ reshuffle this summer.
The Tory men angrily accuse the Prime Minister of planning to favour ‘tokenism over talent’ by promoting a raft of women MPs in the Government shake-up.
One senior male Minister told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Boris should be picking people based on competence – not gender.’
Government insiders suggested that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss was set for a promotion
But last night, Tory women accused the men of ‘sour grapes’ that the Prime Minister was about to recognise the abilities of female Tory MPs.
Caroline Nokes, former chairwoman of the Commons’ Women and Equalities committee, said: ‘If male, pale and stale colleagues feel overlooked, perhaps it’s more to do with their ability than their gender.’
The row broke amid already fevered speculation in the Tory ranks as to who will get promoted in what is expected to be a major ministerial shake-up this summer with Brexit done and the pandemic easing.
Last night, Government insiders suggested that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss was set for a promotion while much-criticised Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could yet escape the Cabinet chop after his efforts getting children back to school last week.
Tory women tipped for promotion include Treasury Minister Kemi Badenoch. Despite telling female Tory MPs last week that he was a feminist, Mr Johnson is under pressure to move more women up the ministerial ladder
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi is also widely expected to be rewarded in the reshuffle for his work on the successful Covid vaccines rollout.
However, Allegra Stratton – the Prime Minister’s press secretary – sparked alarm among male Tory MPs last week after saying Mr Johnson ‘would like to improve how representative his Cabinet is of the population at large’.
Speaking on International Women’s Day, she also hailed the ‘great number of talented women’ in the Government, singling out two Ministers – Care Minister Helen Whately and Children’s Minister Vicky Ford.
Other Tory women have already been tipped for promotion, including Treasury Minister Kemi Badenoch and backbenchers Claire Coutinho, former adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Laura Trott, who worked at No 10 during the Cameron premiership.
However, Ms Stratton’s comments led to complaints to the Tory Whips Office, with some male Ministers and backbench MPs angry at what they feared would be a ‘women first’ policy for promotion based on gender – not talent.
Laura Trott, who worked at No 10 during the Cameron premiership (left) and backbencher Claire Coutinho (right) former adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are among those tipped to be promoted
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, one male MP questioned why ex-MEP Mrs Ford – privately dubbed ‘Vichy Ford’ for her fiercely pro-EU views – should be apparently getting preference for promotion over other Ministers.
He conceded that as a Health Minister, Mrs Whately had faced tricky TV interviews over Government failings during the pandemic but said: ‘You could hardly say she excelled at it.’
But other MPs last night accused some male colleagues of over-reacting to Ms Stratton’s comments last week.
They also defended Mrs Ford and Mrs Whately as hard-working Ministers, saying the Prime Minister had every right to promote talented women and make his frontbench more representative of the country at large.
However, despite telling female Tory MPs last week that he was a feminist, Mr Johnson is under pressure to move more women up the ministerial ladder.
Only five of the 23 full members of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet are women – a worse ratio than under predecessor David Cameron.
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