Leading article

Theresa May's botched reshuffle underlines her weakness

Theresa May's much vaunted cabinet reshuffle has served to underline the fact that she remains perilously weak with an alarming lack of authority.

For several days the British administration had talked up Monday's revamp. It was hailed as a chance to refresh the government, bring in some new faces and allow Mrs May to show that she was in charge.

In the event it did not go according to plan.

Senior figures, some of whom are just waiting for the right time to make a move against the prime minister, have made it clear they are not for moving.

Even Jeremy Hunt, regarded as a loyal minister, apparently refused to budge when Mrs May tried to shift him from health to business, effectively derailing her wider strategy.

Far from a new look that would better reflect all sections of society, the reshuffle has left the prime minister with a higher proportion of Oxbridge and privately educated top ministers than when she took office.

All in all, this is not a good start to the new year and while we must allow the latest secretary of state time to get to grips with the political complexities of Northern Ireland, there is no real sense of dynamism or focus coming from the senior levels of government.

Mrs May, who in fairness is preoccupied with the Brexit negotiations, could be forgiven for expecting Karen Bradley to simply keep matters ticking over in the north. No great drama, no major problems.

But that approach would be a mistake.

Allowing the political stalemate to continue will create all sorts of difficulties while drifting into direct rule will also have far-reaching consequences.

It is clear from the discussions marking the first anniversary of Stormont's collapse that Sinn Féin and the DUP are no closer to reaching agreement.

In fact, attitudes appear more polarised and positions more entrenched which does not exactly provide optimism that progress can be made any time soon.

Nevertheless, Ms Bradley must seek a way forward and inject some life into a becalmed talks process.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Leading article

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: