Each year for the last nine years I have convened a panel to compile a list of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right.
This year our panel was comprised of a current Member of Parliament & former minister, two right leaning journalists, and a party agent current special advisor.
The most difficult thing when deciding who to include an exclude, is to define what ‘influence’ actually means. In the end it means being influential in a combination of national politics, the media, on the Conservative Party and its leader.
In all, there are 33 new entries in the whole list, the most since the list began. Out go a whole host of Cameroons including Samantha Cameron, Ed Llewellyn, Andrew Feldman, Catherine Fall, Grant Shapps, Nick Boles, Craig Oliver and Giles Kenningham.
In come a whole raft of Theresa Mayites including her key advisers Stephen Parkinson, Nick Timothy & Fiona Hill. Indeed Hill and Timothy are the highest new entries, both at number two. The highest new entries among politicians are Justine Greening at number 9 and Andrea Leadsom at 21.
UKIP have a bit of churn this year. Out go Paul Nuttall and Raheem Kassam, but the new leader Diane James returns to the list at 52. Nigel Farage clings onto the top 20, but drops 12 places to 16. The biggest UKIP riser is Arron Banks who rises 47 places and is above Diane James. He will no doubt take great pleasure in the 44 places Douglas Carswell has dropped. Suzanne Evans and Stephen Woolfe also cling on.
Interestingly, the number of the women in this year’s list has risen from 17 to 24, the highest ever. However, in the Left list there are 37, so some way to go.
It’s quite clear that this has been a year of change and surprise. Who would have predicted that David Davis would be this year’s highest riser – from 83 to 4? Next year things will no doubt stabilise.
(+4) Theresa May
Mistress of all she surveys, Theresa May has wasted no time in junking much of the Cameron/Osborne legacy. Ascending to the leadership without a fight she is scoring very high popularity ratings both among Conservative supporters and the electorate more generally. You’re never more powerful than in your first six months as Prime Minister, and it is clear Mrs May has worked this out for herself.
(NEW) Nick Timothy & Fiona Hill
Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister
It’s unusual for us to put two people together on this list but Timothy and Hill work so closely that they are perceived as one. Forced out of the Home Office by David Cameron they have wasted little time in getting a little bit of revenge, and very sweet it must have been too. Hill has an iron grip on the media operation, while no policy from any area of government goes ahead without Nick Timothy’s stamp of approval. They’ve recruited well, especially in their choice of media team. These two could well develop into the most powerful pair of government advisers since Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell. And that’s meant as a compliment.
There was always a debate in previous years as to whether Samantha Cameron should have been included on this list. There was no debate about the inclusion of Philip May. He is just as much a political animal as his wife, and she consults him on more or less everything. Deeply devoted to Conservative politics, he is also a very, very nice man, and incredibly hard working.
(+79) David Davis
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Well, who’d have thought it? The one time leadership contender and serial rebel has been rehabilitated by Theresa May to take on possibly the biggest single task asked of any British politician in recent memory – to negotiate Britain’s way out of the EU. His reputation as a serial rebel has to be put into cold storage and he knows there can’t be a tissue paper between him and Theresa May. He’s aware of the risk she has taken with him and intends to repay that trust in full.
(+4) Ruth Davidson
Leader, Scottish Conservatives
Last year we wrote: “Ruth Davidson has had a stonking leader in charge of the Scottish Conservatives.” This year has been even better, as she led the Scottish Tories into second place in the May elections to the Scottish Parliament, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
(+6) Philip Hammond
Chancellor of the Exchequer
A disappointing Foreign Secretary, who like most foreign secretaries went native in King Charles Street, he was thought to be on his way out had David Cameron survived. Instead, his close friend Theresa May made him Chancellor. He has the opportunity to be a radical chancellor, although most pundits do not expect him to be a risktaker. Having been an avid Eurosceptic in opposition, he seems to delight in tweaking the tail of Brexiteers. A dangerous game for him to indulge in at the moment.
(+3) Boris Johnson
The most unlikely appointment as Foreign Secretary since David Owen, our FCO sources tell us that Boris is very popular at King Charles Street and he has charmed many foreign dignitaries who he has met in his first three months in the job. He’s recovered his BoJo MoJo after the devastation of his defenestration by Michael Gove. His main challenge will be to carve out a role in a job which has been reduced in stature as David Davis and Liam Fox seem to nibble away at the portfolio.
(+6) Sir Michael Fallon
Secretary of State for Defence
Michael Fallon is a reassuring figure at Defence. Having come to the Cabinet fairly late in life, he’s been a great survivor. An effective media performer, like Philip Hammond he was a surprisingly firm advocate of Remain, when all his political life we had all viewed him as a trenchant Eurosceptic.
(NEW) Justine Greening
Secretary of State for Education
A close ally of Theresa May, Justine Greening dropped out of last year’s list. She clearly hated being at International Development so is cock-a-hoop at returning to a mainstream, and important department of government. With universities added to the portfolio, she knows how important it is for her to succeed. Let’s hope she gets a new lease of political life.
(+48) Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd cemented her reputation as an effective performer in the EU referendum debates. She may have got a lot of criticism for ripping into Boris Johnson, but it made her a contender. Rudd will struggle to lose her ‘Remain Cheerleader’ status but no one should be blind to the fact that she is a top drawer politician in her prime.
(NEW) Stephen Parkinson
Political Secretary, Number Ten Downing Street
Worked closely with Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill as one of Theresa May’s three Home Office SPADS, Parkinson is a popular figure in Conservative Party circles. He left the Home Office to work for Vote Leave and has been Director of the Conservative History Group for some years. His is a crucial role in the Downing Street machine.
(+19) Greg Clark
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Greg Clark has risen almost effortlessly through the ranks. Both competent and a transparently nice, he’s been a success in every role he has taken on. His new, slightly unwieldy and illogical department, will provide him with a real challenge in terms of management. His emollient style should help pacify some of the more vigorous vested interests who will be pressing him for sweeties.
(+4) Chris Grayling
Secretary of State for Transport
Having been a leading player in the ‘No’ campaign many people were writing off Chris Grayling’s future prospects under David Cameron, but he played a clever hand in the EU referendum, staying on the side of loyalty and never straying. When Cameron went he immediately spotted Theresa May would win and she appointed him her campaign manager. Some were surprised that he wasn’t offered the Brexit or Trade jobs, but in Transport he is like a pig in the proverbial. When he says it’s his dream job, not everyone believes him, but they should. It’s true.
(-8) Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of State for Health
Hunt has had a difficult year with the junior doctors and it was thought Theresa May would move him. And if it hadn’t been for Stephen Crabb resigning, she undoubtedly would have. Jeremy Hunt was brought in to the Health job to calm the NHS after the Lansley reforms. He achieved that in the short term, but his task now must surely be to do it all over again.
(-2) Lord Michael Ashcroft
Businessman & Philanthropist
Michael Ashcroft has been relatively silent over the last year, following his severe illness last autumn. But his influence endures through his writing, his proprietorship of ConservativeHome and polling. With Cameron gone, and his admiration for Theresa May apparent, it’s difficult to imagine the Good Lord declining in influence this year.
(-12) Nigel Farage
Former Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party
The one thing that we can be sure about is that Nigel Farage isn’t about to disappear from the political scene. America may well be seeing more of him in the next twelve months, but he will no doubt be around to ‘guide’ his successor from the back seat of the car in the way that only Nigel Farage can. No one bets against him making a return to the leadership before 2020.
(+57) Liam Fox
Secretary of State for International Trade
One of the three Brexiteers, Fox’s job is in some ways more difficult than the other two, because in theory he won’t have anything to show for his endeavours until Brexit is achieved at some point in 2019. All he can do is lay the ground work. He must be careful to avoid too many turf wars with Johnson and Davis. Recruiting a whole army of trade negotiators is his short term priority.
(+7) Graham Brady
Chairman, 1922 Committee
Given Brady has been the chief cheerleader for grammar schools since 1997, it is something of a mystery as to why he wasn’t appointed a Minister of State in the Department of Education, or indeed Secretary of State. He’d have been the perfect exponent for the policy.
(+45) Gavin Williamson
One of the few Cameroons to survive regime change, Williamson’s appointment as chief whip caused more than a few raised eyebrows, given his comparative youth and inexperience. However, he did a sterling job as David Cameron’s PPS and was trusted by Tory MPs to relay their concerns. Does he have the steel and the political nouse to be an effective chief whip with a majority of 12? We’re about to find out.
(+10) Sir Patrick McLoughlin
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Last year we called McLoughlin “a great survivor” and “the ultimate safe pair of hands”. We see no reason to change our minds. He’s likely to be a popular chairman but will he be a reforming chairman? So far he seems set to implement the Feldman reforms on party structures but he is likely to have ideas of his own too.
(NEW) Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Leadsom dropped out of last year’s list as it became clear she had been given the black spot by George Osborne. This year her profile shot up during the EU referendum campaign, where she was one of the best debators for Vote Leave. Her leadership campaign may have crashed and burned but her cabinet position gives her a front row seat and an opportunity to be an important part of the debate. She’s kept her counsel since the events of July, and would be well advised to continue to do so.
(NEW) Karen Bradley
Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport
Somewhat of a surprise appointment, Bradley is another of Theresa May’s former Home Office colleagues who has been looked after by her former boss. Hugely popular in the parliamentary party, Bradley is tougher than she may first appear, as the BBC may well confirm.
(+45) David Gauke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Almost a Treasury lifer, Gauke is very adept at playing a straight bat in TV and radio interviews when both he and the interviewer know he’s on a sticky wicket. It’s quite a talent. He’s a tough negotiator, as various cabinet ministers have found out.
(-21) Lynton Crosby
Co-owner, Crosby Textor Fullbrook
Lynton Crosby remains a hugely popular figure in the Conservative Party even if he does have the odd enemy. His decision to opt out of advising either side in the referendum campaign was the right one and although his company failed to pull off an unlikely win for Zac Goldsmith in the London mayoral campaign he remains in prime position to run the Conservative 2020 general election campaign.
(-23) George Osborne
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer
We described George Osborne last year as being “at the height of his powers”. What a different a year makes. We also said that being the favourite to take over from David Cameron was “a dangerous position to hold as he well knows”. Since his dismissal by Theresa May he has carefully positioned himself as the Prince Over the Water. That too, can be quite a dangerous position, but expect him to make lots of efforts to improve his popularity with his parliamentary colleagues and the voluntary party.
(NEW) Katie Perrior
Director of Communications, Number 10 Downing Street
Hugely popular among both MPs and lobby journalists, Perrior first came to public notice when she and her colleague Jo Tanner ran Boris Johnson’s media in his 2008 mayoral campaign. Since then the both of them have run the highly successful inHouse PR firm. Working hand in glove with Fiona Hill, Perrior is a natural at putting out media fires and persuasively briefing journalists. Having said that, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, as those working with her soon realise.
(+10) Matthew Elliott
Former Chief Executive, Vote Leave
Matthew Elliott’s star has never been higher, unless your name’s David Cameron. Having now run two successful referendum campaigns, and successfully kept Dominic Cummings more or less under control, Elliott ought to now be running something big in the Conservative Party. The fact that he isn’t says more about them, than him.
(NEW) George Hollingbery
PPS to Theresa May
Elected in 2010, George Hollingbery is devoted to Theresa May and is an effective communicator to her of the views of his fellow Tory MPs. He is well aware of her lack of small talk and it’s no exaggeration to say that he is almost as important to Theresa May as Ian Gow was to Margaret Thatcher.
(+4) Daniel Hannan
MEP for South East England
Hannan had a good referendum campaign, coming across as one of the more sensible voices for Leave. He will surely be a shoo-in for a safe Westminster seat in 2020. A prolific author, he may well play a very important part in the Brexit negotiations.
(+4) Paul Goodman
One of the few non MPs on this list who can phone up any cabinet minister and they’ll take his call immediately. He seems to have become more radical as the years go by and isn’t afraid to offer constructive criticism where he feels it is merited. ConHome traffic is at an all-time high, and deservedly so.
(NEW) Damian Green
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
A close friend of Theresa May from their university days, Damian Green was always tipped to return to ministerial office if she became leader. This may not be his dream department, but it’s an astute appointment by May, as he always comes across on the media as the voice of sweet Tory reason.
(NEW) Richard Harrington
PUSS, Department of Work & Pensions
The highest ranking junior minister, Harrington became close to May while in his job as minister for Syrian refugees at the Home Office. At a recent dinner with Theresa May for her closest confidantes, Harrington was one of the eight people present.
(NEW) John Godfrey
Head of the Number Ten Policy Unit
A former Home Office SPAD in the 1990s Godfrey comes to the job from a nine year stint running Comms for Legal & General. A staunch supporter of the union, it will be interesting to see how radical he will be in terms of new policy proposals.
(-13) Lord Daniel Finkelstein
Columnist, The Times
Finkelstein drops in this year’s list even though his Times columns make for compulsory reading. Why? Because he was seen as an arch Cameroon and is George Osborne’s best friend. He’s said to be helping David Cameron write his memoirs.
(+15) Brandon Lewis
Minister for Police and the Fire Service
A rising star, and an excellent media performer, Lewis was unlucky not to make full Cabinet, and he will be one of the first knocking on the door in the next reshuffle.
(+19) Sheridan Westlake
Special Advisor, No 10 Downing Street
Having spent many years working in the CRD and then for Eric Pickles, Sheridan Westlake took on a new enforcement role in Downing Street under David Cameron. He is one of the few Cameron Downing Street appointments to be kept on by Theresa May. He is thought to be the link man with David Davis’s Brexit department for Theresa May.
(+32) Liz Truss
Secretary of State for Justice
Last year we said that Liz Truss’s “all too obvious leadership ambitions will be thwarted unless she is able to show more of what she is undoubtedly capable of “ by being moved from DEFRA. We were right. They were and she wasn’t. However, her appointment to Justice was, shall we say, one of the more jaw-dropping of the reshuffle. Another square peg in a round hole role, we fear. However, it’s one of the more senior jobs in cabinet, so she rises in this year’s list.
(+22) James Chapman
Chief of Staff to David Davis
The former political editor of the Daily Mail was Comms Director for George Osborne at The Treasury and a staunch advocate of Britain remaining in the EU. So when he was appointed by David Davis to a new role as his chief of staff, many were rather surprised to say the least. But it proves what a valuable asset Davis thinks he will be.
(-28) Michael Gove
Former Secretary of State for Justice
What a difference a year makes. Gove plummets down this list for obvious reasons. However, don’t bet against him making a return to the top twenty – perhaps not next year, or even the year after, but Theresa May knows he makes a dangerous opponent on the back benches and has given him hope of a return if he keeps his nose clean. So far he has. So far…
(-8) Andrew Tyrie
Chairman, Treasury Select Committee
Tyrie has been an excellent chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. He may radiate calmness and niceness, but he has the forensic ability to question a witness which some of his colleagues sadly do not. Likely to remain in the spotlight as he quizzes Brexit ministers.
(+12) Fraser Nelson
Editor, The Spectator
Fraser Nelson was appointed editor at a comparatively young age, but he has more than lived up to both Andrew Neil’s and his readers’ expectations. An articulate exponent of right of centre politics, one wonders what his next move will be. Perhaps into elected politics?
(+15) Priti Patel
Secretary of State for International Development
Said to regret not standing for the leadership, Priti Patel’sprofile inevitably rose during the referendum campaign. However, to appoint her to run a department she would quite like to abolish shows Theresa May has a wicked sense of humour.
(NEW) Anne Milton
Deputy Chief Whip
A former nurse and subsequently a junior health minister, Anne Milton has been a very effective whip. Many thought she might get the top job, but it wasn’t to be. Very popular in the parliamentary party, Milton’s rise has been slow but sure. We think she will continue her ascent.
(+26) Syed Kamall
Leader of the European Conservatives & Reformists in the European Parliament
Fought a competent campaign to get the nomination for Conservative candidate for London mayor, coming second. Kamall was the subject of a tirade of abuse in a telephone call from David Cameron when he announced he was supporting Leave, but as things have turned out, that has done his career prospects no harm at all. Likely to get a Westminster seat in 2020.
(NEW) Baroness Evans
Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness who? That was the response from most people when it was announced she had replaced the popular Baroness Stowell as Leader of the House of Lords. Polly Evans is a long term friend of Theresa May from her Women2Win days. And that’s about as much as we know!
(+5) Mark Littlewood
Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs
Littlewood has had a successful period in charge of one of the oldest think tanks in the country. A pugnacious debater, he is one of the best advocates of free market economics.
(+33) Arron Banks
Banks is an acquired taste for many. A former donor to the Conservatives, he switched his allegiances to UKIP and now funds the UKIP Leave.Eu campaign, which continues to campaign to ensure Britain really does leave the EU. Loud, outspoken and brash, his forthcoming ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ diaries are likely to shock and amuse in equal measure.
(NEW) Lizzie Loudon
Press Secretary to Theresa May
A very effective operator she had previously been a SPAD for Iain Duncan Smith and press officer for Vote Leave.
(-31) Iain Duncan Smith
Former Leader of the Conservative Party
Having resigned from the government earlier in the year he then became one of the most vocal leaders of Vote Leave. His cabinet career appears at an end and he will now carve out a niche for himself as a distinguished elder statesman of the Conservative Party. He will be a leading proponent of holding the government’s feet to the fire to ensure no backsliding over Brexit.
(-49) David Cameron
Former Prime Minister
Having been in the top two of this list ever since its inception in 2007 our panel found it very difficult to place David Cameron this year, for obvious reasons. So we copped out and placed him half way down. He would have been higher if he’d stayed in parliament, but it seems clear that he won’t be participating in active politics and will instead concentrate on writing his memoirs.
(-15) Jo Johnson
Minister for Universities
Johnson has failed to build on his early promise and his rise up the greasy pole has come to a shuddering halt. He headed the team which wrote the last Conservative manifesto, but that failed to propel his career forward. If he doesn’t make the cabinet in the next reshuffle, it’s doubtful he ever will.
(NEW) Bernard Jenkin
Chair, Public Administration Select Committee
Bernard Jenkin has had a good year. A leading light in the campaign to leave the referendum, he has also been a very effective head of the Public Administration Select Committee.
(-38) Mark Harper
Former Chief Whip
Thought to be a shoo-in as a minister in Theresa May’s first cabinet, Mark Harper must have been devastated when he was offered a demotion from Chief Whip to a minister of state. He decided to resign from the government instead. A very talented politician, it is a mystery as to why he was given the heave-ho.
(+27) Sarah Wollaston
Chair of the Health Select Committee
The maverick’s maverick many of her fellow MPs don’t regard her as a team player. However, to others she is the exemplification of what a decent MP should be – open minded, willing to speak out against her own party if need be, diligent and honest. Her flip-flopping on the Referendum may have annoyed some, but the public like and respect her.
(-15) Anna Soubry
MP for Broxstowe
Another talented Minister who is out of government, Soubry was thought to be at the front of the queue of ministers of state knocking on the cabinet door. She irritated many with her OTT pronouncements on Brexit, but she has become and accomplished media performer and is a massive loss to the front bench.
(-15) William Hague
Former Foreign Secretary
Some of us thought William Hague was a Eurosceptic but his interventions in the EU Referendum campaign proved what many of us suspected – that he went native during his five years as Foreign Secretary. A pity. However, he remains a politician who is listened to whenever he decides to make a pronouncement.
(-12) Neil O’Brien
Special Adviser to Theresa May
The former head of Policy Exchange, O’Brien was the man behind the George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and came up with many of Osborne’s more populist ideas. Since Osborne’s demise he has moved from No 11 to No 10 and is now a key adviser to Theresa May.
(-39) Nicky Morgan
Former Secretary of State for Education
Theresa May and Nicky Morgan do not get on. Never have. So Morgan’s sacking came as little surprise to her or others. She has already become the most outspoken critics of the Prime Minister on the Tory benches. Time will tell if this is a good move on her part or not.
(-31) Robert Halfon
Minister of State, Department of Education
One of the most popular members of the parliamentary party, Halfon had a difficult year, surviving a personal minor scandal to live another day. He was promoted in the July reshuffle, and is an outside bet to join the cabinet before too long.
(+7) Katie Hopkins
Columnist, Mail Online & LBC Presenter
The woman people seem to love to hate, she’s actually quite a pussycat. She may have lost her Sun column, but she immediately bounced back by bagging a role on MailOnline and a weekly LBC show.
(NEW) Jimmy McLoughlin
Head of Business Relations, Number Ten Downing Street
A popular young(ish) Tory activist, McLoughlin has spent the past few years advising businesses through his employment as a public affairs consultant. He is a popular new addition to the Number 10 staff.
(NEW) Stephen Phillips
Secretary to the Conservative Party Board
A career Conservative Party apparatchik, Phillips started life as an agent but has been a fixture at Conservative Campaign Headquarters for at least two decades. No changes of note in the party get passed through without his approval. A real behind the scenes mover and shaker.
(-18) Tim Montgomerie
Columnist, The Times
Montgomerie was supposed to have spent the last year in the US, but because of the Referendum he’s made more transatlantic trips than a BA 747. Had a different candidate replaced David Cameron he may have hoped for a senior position in Number Ten, but instead he retains his position as an influential Times columnist.
(-2) Lord Stuart Polak
Director, Conservative Friends of Israel
One of the shrewdest single issue pressure group lobbyists around, Polak joined the Conservative benches in the House of Lords last year. He influence on Conservative policy towards the Middle East is unlikely to decline.
(NEW) Christian May
Editor, City AM
A former lobbyist at the Institute of Directors, Christian May was a surprise choice to take over the editorship of City AM from Alistair Heath, but boy oh boy was it an inspired one. He has lifted its profile, increased its turnover and distribution. And he’s making a name for himself as a pundit. One to watch over the next twelve months.
(-) Paul Staines
Managing Editor, Guido Fawkes blog
The site everyone in politics loves to read, unless they feature on it. Staines has built up an impressive business and survived the loss of Harry Cole to the world of tabloid journalism. Alex Wickham has proved to be an able replacement.
(NEW) Diane James
Leader of UKIP
It wasn’t a surprise that Diane James beat her rather unimpressive colleagues to take over the leadership of UKIP, the surprise was that she ran at all. Her problem over the next year will be to escape Nigel Farage’s shadow and to find a way of appealing to northern Labour voters. Without their support, she will find it difficult to make any sort of breakthrough.
(+5) Dean Godson
Director, Policy Exchange
Godson has made some impressive hires in recent months as Policy Exchange tries to make the transition from Cameron to May. They were seen as almost an adjunct of Number 10 in the Cameron years. We will see if Theresa May has other ideas.
(+7) Charles Moore
Columnist, The Spectator
Currently writing the final volume of his biography of Margaret Thatcher, Moore remains an absolute must read in the Spectator and Telegraph.
(NEW) Gavin Barwell
Minister for Housing
By common consent one of the nicest people in politics, Gavin Barwell was handed one of the trickiest portfolios in government by Theresa May. If he can get housing policy right, he could well prove to be an election winner.
(+8) Matthew Parris
Columnist, The Times & Spectator
For many he is the pre-eminent columnist of his generation. He can write entertainingly about anything and never bores, mainly because of his endearing unpredictability. Probably the most read columnist among Tory MPs.
(-48) Matthew Hancock
Minister of States, DCMS
Widely seen as a demotion, Matthew Hancock insists he has the best job in government as the new minister for digital communication. Hmmm. Seen as George Osborne’s vicar on earth, Hancock has had to quickly adapt to the new era, and has proved to be a great survivor.
(+5) Simon Heffer
Columnist, Sunday Telegraph
He may not be a modern Conservative’s cup of tea but he’s unmissable. A truly brilliant writer he gets to the nub of an argument more quickly than most and his books are unrivalled.
(-63) Sajid Javid
Secretary State for Communities & Local Government
Oh what might have been. Seen as the most dogged Eurosceptic in the cabinet, everyone was astonished when he came out for Remain. Having been seen as a future leader he instantly lost the trust of everyone on the right and he will find it difficult to recover. Some say it will be impossible. It was therefore easy for Theresa May to demote him.
(NEW) Arlene Foster
First Minister of Northern Ireland
A slight unknown quantity to people outside Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster has proved to be a popular successor to Peter Robinson. She needs to up her profile in Westminster and on the UK-wide media.
(NEW) Sam Bowman
Executive Director, Adam Smith Institute
One of the brightest new proponents of libertarianism and free market economic, he has had good teachers in Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler.
(NEW) Will Walden
Director of Communications to Boris Johnson
A big bluff character who doesn’t suffer fools gladly he is one of the few people who is able to discipline Boris, and seems to rather enjoy doing it. Boris’s successful transition to Foreign Secretary is in no small part down to Walden.
(NEW) David Lidington
Leader of the House of Commons
Popular with MPs on all sides of the House, Lidders – as he is known – had spent six years as Europe Minister and if anyone deserved a move and a promotion it was him. He’ll never make the headlines, but he’s in a job which is vital to the smooth functioning of government. And if anyone fits a job like a hand in a glove, he does.
(-63) Zac Goldsmith
MP for Richmond Park
It’s certainly not been an easy year for Zac, and it could yet get worse. Having lost the campaign to be London mayor, he has almost disappeared from public view. With the Heathrow decision about to land, he’s likely to hit the headlines again.
(NEW) Poppy Trowbridge
Special Adviser to Philip Hammond
In personality terms, the polar opposite to her new boss, Poppy Trowbridge has been brought in to do for Philip Hammond what Thea Rodgers did for George Osborne. Her experience as Sky’s Consumer Affairs Editor will be invaluable in advising the Chancellor on some of his more hard-edged policies.
(-39) Greg Hands
Minister of State for International Trade
It will have been a blow to Greg Hands to lose his Cabinet position but at least he survived, unlike many of George Osborne’s close allies. He will be delighted to be at the centre of the Brexit debate, even if he surprised many of his friends by supporting Remain. However, he ‘supported’ Remain in the same way as Theresa May did.
(-38) Douglas Carswell
UKIP MEP for Clacton
Last year we said: “Nowadays he looks a fish out of water in UKIP and one can’t help wondering whether he has come to regret his defection.” That still holds true today espite Nigel Farage’s retirement as leader. He has promised his full support to Diane James, but it’s likely he will continue to plough a lonely furrow.
(-24) Tracey Crouch
Minister for Sport
If ever there was a round peg in a round hole as a minister, it’s Tracey Crouch. A qualified football coach, she has made a blinding start in her new job. She drops in this year’s list as she hasn’t been around for much of the year, being on maternity leave. Still one to watch, though.
(-23) Dominic Cummings
Former Communications Director, Vote Leave
Cummings played a key role in Vote Leave and retains his reputation as a brilliant campaigning strategist, even if he is reviled by large parts of the centre right. It will be interesting to see what his next move is.
(-13) Sir Eric Pickles
Conservative MP for Brentwood & Ongar
One of the best performing cabinet ministers in the coalition, Pickles should never have been disposed of. But he’s bounced back by leading a task force on corruption and becoming chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel.
(NEW) Steven Woolfe
Many UKIPpers scratcher their heads in collective bewilderment when Stephen Woolfe laid down and accepted his party’s decision to ban him from standing for the leadership on the basis he had submitted his nomination papers a few minutes late. Time will tell if he can recover.
(NEW) Toby Young
Columnist & Broadcaster
Young has become an almost ever present presence on our screens and radios, giving his views on all sorts of issues. An eloquent broadcaster and combative writer, he’s never knowingly uncontroversial.
(NEW) Roger Scruton
It’s a crime that Scruton hasn’t been an ever-present on this list since its inception. His written articulation of what it is to be a Conservative should be read by anyone who has even the vaguest aspiration to describe themselves as one.
(-38) Suzanne Evans
Former UKIP Deputy Chairman
Having written the UKIP manifesto, and getting many plaudits for it, Evans was seemingly Nigel Farage’s heir apparent, but he then took against her and she ended up with a six month suspension from the party. Many are surprised that she hasn’t returned to the Conservatives and it will be interesting now to see what role within UKIP she carves out for herself.
(NEW) Lord George Bridges
Minister of State, Department for Leaving the EU
Tasked with selling the Brexit negotiations to the House of Lords, Theresa May couldn’t have picked a better number two for David Davis. Thoughtful, brainy and collegiate, he’s the ideal candidate for the role.
(-1) Mark Wallace
Executive Editor, ConservativeHome
Wallace brings a bright, pugnacious approach to ConservativeHome and rarely sits on the fence in his writings. He often has some uncomfortable messages for the Conservative Party.
(NEW) George Freeman
Chair, Prime Minister’s Policy Board
Freeman has been vocal in selling his new position, chairing the PM’s policy board, as a promotion from his previous role as Minister of State for Life Sciences. Hmmm. Up to a point Lord Copper. He will now have to prove he can have real influence on policy development.
(-47) Donal Blaney
Founder of the Margaret Thatcher Centre and Young Britons Foundation
To say this has been a difficult year for Donal Blaney would be an understatement. It has been dominated by the aftershocks of the tragic death of Elliot Johnson. Blaney closed down YBF and resigned from Conservative Way Forward. He may have plummeted on this list, but he will be back.
(NEW) Martin Durkin
His ‘Brexit: The Movie’, largely funded by Arron Banks, was a brilliant example of the polemical documentary and given that it was entirely on online project, attracted a huge audience.
(NEW) Kate Andrews
News Editor, Institute of Economic Affairs
One of the bright new generations of right of centre thinkers, Andrews has got a high media profile and deservedly so. Dry as dust on economics, she’s rather more liberal on social and foreign policy issues. An interesting mix.
(NEW) Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue
A graduate of the Social Market Foundation, Ryan Shorthouse has given Bright Blue a much higher profile in Tory circles and is a star of the future. He has a unique ability to explain complicated economic policies in simple terms.
(-) Julia Hartley-Brewer
Columnist & Broadcaster
A prolific columnist and broadcaster, Hartley-Brewer has really raised her profile since her departure from LBC. She’s unpredictable, feisty and intelligent and some reckon she’d make a great MP. She’s recently taken over the morning slot on the new talkRadio.
(NEW) Simon Burton
Special Advisor to the Chief Whip
By no means well know, Burton has one of the most important special advisor jobs in government, especially given the inexperience of his boss.
(-1) Andrew Kennedy
Conservative Party Agent
Acts as agent to a group of constituencies in West Kent and writes a brilliant blog (Voting & Boating) on his life and work. Last year we wrote: “One of the party’s best campaigners, it’s likely CCHQ will try to bring him in house before too long, if only to silence his very caustic blog!” rather surprisingly, that hasn’t happened yet!
(NEW) John Hayes
Minister of State, Department of Transport
Everyone had assumed that Hayes had served his time and would be ousted in Theresa May’s reshuffle, but it wasn’t to be. There is huge speculation as to the photos he must have in his possession. He returns to the Department from where it is rumoured the Permanent Secretary demanded he be moved some years ago.