Baroness Warsi has been removed from her role as Conservative Party co-chairman in David Cameron’s first major reshuffle of the coalition Government.
Lady Warsi had appealed to the Prime Minister to allow her to carry on in the post but she was widely expected to be moved on.
Her deputy, Michael Fallon, Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Employment Minister Chris Grayling are seen as strong candidates to take over.
The peer used her official ToryChairman Twitter account this morning to confirm she was “signing off”, saying it had been “a privilege and an honour to serve my party as co-chairman”.
The reason why Warsi was “widely expected to be moved on” is that the Tory right have waged a persistent campaign against her with the aim of forcing Cameron to remove her from her post (see for example here, here, here and here). Last week the Telegraph reported that Warsi would be replaced “with a candidate from the Right wing of the party, who speaks for core Tory supporters”.
There appear to have been two components to the Tory right’s campaign against Warsi. On the one hand there are influential figures in the top ranks of the Tory party like Celsius 7/7 author Michael Gove who oppose Warsi because she has failed to endorse their paranoid anti-Islamist fantasies and even spoke out about Islamophobia. And then there are your basic backwoods Tory activists who never came to terms with the fact that their party’s co-chairman should be a Muslim woman.
In short, Cameron has ditched Warsi in order to appease the reactionary forces that continue to dominate his party, thereby demonstrating how little has really changed among the Tories. You might think that the Labour Party would be well placed to make this point. Unfortunately, during the anti-Warsi witch-hunt Labour’s spokesperson Michael Dugher spent his time supporting the Tory right.
Update: Confirming earlier speculation, Grant Shapps has been appointed Tory party chairman. Warsi has been given a ministerial position in the Foreign Office.
Update 2: Warsi has also been appointed Faith and Communities minister, which won’t please Michael Gove. Some other people aren’t happy about it either: