May to Create Dept of Housing and Infrastructure

Telegraph

THERESA MAY will use Damian Green’s downfall as an opportunity to relaunch her premiership in the new year by creating a legacy that goes beyond Brexit.

The Prime Minister is considering creating a new Whitehall department to concentrate on a major domestic issue, such as housing and infrastructure, rather than replacing Mr Green with another First Secretary of State.

She will also make a third major speech on Brexit to set out exactly what she wants Britain’s future relationship with the EU to be.

This comes as allies of Mr Green said his 40-year friendship with Mrs May had “cooled” as a result of his enforced resignation because he resented the way she had handled the matter.

After a turbulent 2017, Mrs May wants to seize the initiative after her Christmas break. She is desperate to avoid being remembered as “the Brexit Prime Minister” and wants to make meaningful progress in areas such as housing, education and social mobility.

One option under consideration is the creation of a new Department for Housing and Infrastructure, merging some of the responsibilities currently held by Sajid Javid, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, and Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary.

A Whitehall source said: “The Prime Minister has two weeks over Christmas to think about what to do next. She will start the new year wanting to keep moving forward on Europe but she also has a lot of domestic priorities. One possibility is creating a new Whitehall department with a new Cabinet post to go with it. It would be something big, such as housing and infrastructure. That is really important to her.”

A Ministry of Housing was created in 1951 to rebuild Britain’s housing stock after the Second World War, and was headed by Harold Macmillan before he became prime minister. It was merged with the Ministry of Transport in 1970 to form the Department for the Environment.

Mrs May could yet decide to replace Mr Green with another First Secretary of State. Mr Green feels bitter after it emerged that Mrs May had waited two days to inform him he had been found in breach of the ministerial code of conduct. A friend of Mr Green said: “It’s fair to say he was not overly happy with the way this has dragged on and been dragged out. I hope when the dust settles he and Theresa will be able to speak again as friends, but in the short term he is disappointed with the way this has played out. His relationship with Theresa May has cooled.”

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