Reshuffle sees Philp shunted sideways to the ‘Ministry of Fun’

Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on the unlucky ‘escape’ in the government reshuffle for Croydon’s only Conservative MP

Yum: will Nadine Dorries make a meal out of her new junior minister Chris Philp?

Croydon’s only Tory MP has finally made his escape from the clutches of Priti Patel at the Home Office. There are rumours, unconfirmed, that he was last seen scarpering along Marsham Street shouting, “I’m a politician! Get me out of here!”

In a classic example of a political out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire, Chris Philp found himself shunted sideways in the government reshuffle this week, thrown into the arms of the new culture secretary, Nadine Dorries. Philp must now get a sense of what it is like to be one of those refugees coming to this country, who he’d been trying to get turned back in the Channel for the last 18 months.

Philp, parachuted in to become Croydon South’s MP in 2015, is now formally the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital Economy in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Given the glowing write-up he received earlier this month in Private Eye, he might be entitled to be a bit miffed that he wasn’t promoted to transport minister with a brief to fix the shortage of HGV drivers… Hey, ho, them’s the breaks.

One in the Eye: Boris Johnson failed to take the advice from Lord Gnome

Nine years ago, Dorries was suspended by the Conservative Party for abandoning parliament so that she could eat kangaroo anus on ITV game show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. This is her first appointment to the Cabinet, in a move interpreted by Westminster lobby journalists as a deliberate attempt by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provoke the “woke” left.

Dorries replaces Oliver Dowden, as nine-bob Boris used the reshuffle to conduct a complete clear-out of the DCMS – the one-time “Ministry of Fun” – with Matt Warman, Caroline Dinenage and John Whittingdale also being moved on.

It was outspoken Liverpudlian Dorries who notoriously characterised David Cameron and George Osborne as “two arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”.

DCMS is responsible for broadband infrastructure, the health of professional and grassroots sport after the pandemic and media regulation. The most contentious issues include the future of the BBC and whether Channel 4 should be privatised.

Dorries has published four novels based on her upbringing in 1960s Liverpool, which have sold more than 100,000 copies despite middling reviews. It might be a mistake to underestimate her.

As the i newspaper’s columnist Ayesha Hazarika noted, “My timeline is full of people from my wing of politics calling her thick and useless and demanding her immediate cancellation, but that is exactly the reaction Johnson wants.

“I may disagree with her politics but calling a former nurse who became an MP and a best-selling author stupid reeks of the kind of snobbery which is killing the Labour Party.”

For Croydon more broadly, the most significant move in the reshuffle is the sacking as housing and communities minister Robert Jenrick – the man who signed off on the record £120million bail-out check for the council – and his replacement by Michael Gove.

Chris Philp MP reacts with delight as he is given the news of his new job

In an uncanny twist of fate, as a former journalist, Gove has actually attended editorial conference with the Editor of Inside Croydon, although matters sarf London were not thought to be on the agenda at that time.

As the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Gove will now have direct personal overview of the running of Croydon’s cash-strapped council, as he will receive regular quarterly reports on the management of the Town Hall from inspector Tony McArdle and the Improvement Board.

It has been reported this week that Gove is also expected to pause the government’s proposals to change the planning system.

The proposals – widely seen as tipping the balance of power away from local objectors and towards developers – have caused uproar in the Tory shires.

Gove will have to shape a new strategy to meet the government’s 300,000-a-year housing target.

The MP for Surrey Heath – the area around Bagshot and Camberley – has a record of objecting to housing developments in his own constituency. In 2019, he declared he was “deeply concerned” about plans to build a 1,500-home garden village on the site of Fairoaks airport, and in October 2020 he spoke at a planning appeal hearing against a scheme in Bagshot for 44 homes on a site zoned for housing by the Conservative council.

The Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of Gove’s new department, MHCLG, gave the scheme the go-ahead regardless.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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3 Responses to Reshuffle sees Philp shunted sideways to the ‘Ministry of Fun’

  1. Dan Maertens says:

    I hope he has a special brief in charge of ensuring that TV programmes are appropriately ‘British’ and look forward to a new series of Terry and June with the dystopian backdrop of whatever is left of the Whitgift Centre and St George’s Walk.

  2. derek thrower says:

    “As the i newspaper’s columnist Ayesha Hazarika noted, “My timeline is full of people from my wing of politics calling her thick and useless and demanding her immediate cancellation, but that is exactly the reaction Johnson wants..

    This didn’t seem to work out too well for Gavin Williamson.
    Didn’t know you had to be on a wing of politics to know when someone is not up to the job.
    It can be the only reason for the dismal performance of the Labour Group on Croydon Council for the best part of the last decade.

  3. John Harvey says:

    What’s worse for Croydon?. Sticking with Jenrickism or more uncertainty as Tories faff about looking for planning policies their supporters will like?

    Ministry of Fun ? Is Philp anything to laugh about? The next Ed Balls perhaps?

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