One of the Conservative Party’s longest serving frontbenchers is expected to be sacked in a forthcoming government reshuffle. Kenneth Clarke is currently a Minister without Portfolio in the government and is one of the few remaining Conservative Europhiles.
In his place, the Sunday Telegraph reports that Prime Minister David Cameron to be keen to promote a number of younger MPs, especially women. One such MP could be Anna Soubry, the outspoken Defence Minister who sits firmly on the left of the party.
Commentators accuse the Conservative Party of having a “woman problem”, with few senior government posts being held by female MPs. Following the resignation of Culture Secretary Maria Miller over an expenses scandal earlier this year, the Government front bench was left with just two female Cabinet ministers.
Other women tipped for promotion are Esther McVey, a former TV presenter who is a strong media performer, and Education Minister Liz Truss.
If Kenneth Clarke is sacked, it will mark an end to five decades on the Conservative Party front bench. He was first appointed as a junior Minister in Ted Heath’s government in 1972, and has since served as Education Secretary, Health Secretary, Lord Chancellor, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has also stood three times for the Conservative Party leadership, but lost out due to his staunch pro-EU views.
Like Clarke, Anna Soubry is on the Conservative Party’s left wing. She is known for her pro-immigration views and earlier today caused further controversy by saying that some people who are concerned about immigration are “frankly racist”.
She was also a staunch supporter of Nick Clegg’s failed House of Lords reforms that caused one of the biggest rebellions in the history of the Conservative party.