Reshuffle: Welsh changes and the Beard Liberation Front


I wouldn't say he was demob happy but David Jones was as cheerful as anyone who had just been sacked could be.

"I'm not unhappy," he told me shortly after leaving his Downing Street meeting with the prime minister. "It is right he should refresh his team. I have been in the Wales Office more than four years". [as both a junior minister and secretary of state]

"I fully understand the prime minister's position," said the Clwyd West MP. "I told the prime minister he has my total support."

Mr Jones said that anyone appointed to the cabinet knew that one day they would have this sort of conversation with the prime minister. He said he expected the reshuffle to be bigger than expected with a lot of departures from government.

He is expected to be replaced by his deputy, Stephen Crabb, Tory MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire. As I write, Mr Crabb has yet to hear the good news officially. He has been spotted at the French Embassy celebrating Bastille Day, although I expect his smartphone remains switched on.

Who will replace him? Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns has been the frontrunner, as I mentioned earlier, although there has been some concern in government circles of the reshuffle leaving North Wales under-represented. Perhaps Guto Bebb, from Aberconwy, should check his 'phone is fully charged too.

Mr Crabb is expected to strike a different tone. The ministerial Jag may go. He will focus on welfare reform. Opponents expect him to be more pragmatic in his approach to devolution. He will also be sensitive to any criticism of Welsh government performance being seen as a "war on Wales".

Mr Crabb will also, you will be excited to hear, the first Conservative cabinet minister with a beard for more than a century. I'm grateful to the Conservative History Group, who tweeted: "The last Tory cabinet minister with a beard was 4th Earl of Onslow (president of board of agriculture until March 1905)".

And Mr Crabb will be grateful to famous beardie Keith Flett, who tweeted: "He will of course have full Beard Liberation Front support should be be appointed."

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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