Eric Pickles May Replace Grant Shapps As Party Chairman

Eric Pickles May Replace Grant Shapps As Party Chairman

Grant Shapps may be replaced as Conservative Party Chairman according to the Independent. The paper has suggested that he may be replaced by Eric Pickles, a well-regarded former chairman. 

Mr Pickles is currently Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, where he has presided over a long freeze on council tax. His move would form part of a reshuffle that will come after this week’s Queen’s Speech and Newark by-election. 

Shapps is believed to have had a difficult relationship with Lynton Crosby, the Conservatives election strategist. Mr Crosby is well respected inside Number 10 and any friction is likely to be more damaging to the Party Chairman than it is to him.

Pickles also has the advantage of being someone who can connect with ordinary voters. Something that might come in very useful if the UKIP surge continues unabated. 

David Cameron is understood to want to put the European election behind his party and make his final changes before the General Election next year.

He deliberately made plans to delay any changes until after both the European elections and the Newark by-election in case the party did badly in both. So far the Conservatives have lost the European election, coming in a close third after Labour. They are expected to win Newark but with a reduced majority.

The Independent also suggests that “senior sources” believe two women: Nicky Morgan and Ester McVey are likely to be promoted. Both are seen to have done a god job in their current roles, and David Cameron is keen to promote women to put paid to Labour allegations he is “anti-women”. 

Leader of the House Andrew Lansley is expected to stand down in the reshuffle. He has been a damaged brand ever since his reforms of the NHS got seriously bogged down in Parliament. 

Lansley is largely blamed for failing to ensure the politics of the changes had been properly dealt with. In the end getting the Health and Social Care Act through Parliament turned into a long running battle involving the Unions, the opposition and significant trouble from the Liberal Democrats. 

Despite his past failings he is believed to enjoy a friendly relationship with David Cameron and may get a seat on the European Commission as a consolation prize.

The Westminster rumour mill is also hot with suggestions that Greg Hands, might be moved from Deputy to Chief Whip. Hands as performed well in his current role, he also missed out on ministerial office due to the coalition.

Before the General Election he had been expected to become a Treasury Minister but when space needed to be made for the Liberal Democrats he missed out. Since then he has been Parliamentary Private Secretary to George Osborne before being moved to the Whips Office.

Kenneth Clarke is also tipped to rejoin the backbenches, he is currently a Minister without Portfolio and at 73 years old is believed to be keen to slow down.