Amber Rudd’s resignation throws Theresa May’s government into crisis


IN THIS week’s Bagehot column I ventured that Amber Rudd, Britain’s home secretary, was probably not fatally wounded by recent events, “unless there is another scandal festering in the Home Office’s basement”. It turned out that there was a lot of festering going on. Just before 10pm on April 29th Ms Rudd tendered her resignation, pitching Theresa May’s ill-starred government into yet another crisis.

This is the fifth resignation of a cabinet minister in this ten-month-old parliament: just over 20% of Mrs May’s second cabinet have quit their jobs since June 2017. Even by the standards of today’s just-in-time economy that is quite a turnover. It is also by far the most serious. Ms Rudd was one of the rising stars of the Conservative Party—and one of the very few Conservatives who came out of the last election with her reputation intact. Her resignation is a blow to the party’s future. She was also, together with Philip Hammond, the chancellor, the Cabinet’s leading “Remainer”. Ms Rudd’s resignation threatens to tilt the balance of power in both the cabinet and the party at large in favour of the hard-line Leavers. The cabinet Brexiteers (Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis) have lost a doughty and experienced opponent. Tory liberals have lost (perhaps temporarily) their best chance of replacing Mrs May with someone who favours a liberal Brexit. Though she did not see eye-to-eye with the Conservative Party membership over Brexit, Ms Rudd made them feel comfortable, with her head-girl demeanour and easy manner. The nightmare of a Jacob Rees-Mogg- (or Boris Johnson-) led Conservative Party has just got a little closer. Ms Rudd’s successor, Sajid Javid, previously secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, lacks her commitment to the Remainer cause.

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