The new Cabinet should be determined by
merit, not gender

Today it has been reported that our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, intends to ensure women make up half of her Cabinet.

Many in the media have welcomed this move, but I do not.

The Conservative Party currently has 330 MPs, and of these 68 are women. In order to achieve a 50:50 balance in the Cabinet, our new Prime Minister will need to promote a greater proportion of women than men from our Parliamentary Party.

Looking at the women on our benches, that would necessitate promoting women who are not quite so capable. This partly because of those 68 female MPs, around one third of them were only elected last year, and so have little parliamentary experience.

This is also partly because others among our female MPs have shown themselves to very undesirable in the government – Sarah Wollaston or Anna Soubry, anyone?

Meanwhile, there are large numbers of men on our benches that I strongly believe should be promoted. Top of my list are Steve Baker, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Liam Fox. Will there be room in the government for these stars if more men are excluded based on their gender?

There are currently 21 Cabinet positions. Presumably an additional ‘Minister for Brexit’ will be created, giving 22 Cabinet positions to fill. If Theresa May achieves her objective of a 50:50 gender split, it would mean almost 1 in 6 female Conservative MPs would be a Cabinet Minister – whereas just 1 in 24 male Conservative MPs would be a Cabinet Minister.

The Conservative Party should promote meritocracy over everything else and this, by artificially promoting women based on their gender, would do the opposite.

As a woman, I want the best people in place for the job. A reasonable compromise would be for the gender split in our Parliamentary Party to also be reflected in the Cabinet – and that would mean just 4 or 5 female Cabinet Ministers.

However, as a woman, I would much prefer the Prime Minister looked at the MPs she leads based on merit alone, without reference to gender. That is the way to equality – not quotas and gestures.


Emily is the Chairman of Conservatives for Liberty. Follow her on Twitter: @ThinkEmily

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty