Cameron's comms challenge now rests on a knife edge

It is the first full week of the new Government and after a weekend's rest, following a shock ending, we're now into Cameron - Part II. But will it be more of the same or will the franchise be taken off in a new direction?

Cameron now has to walk the tightrope, argues Naomi Harris of Bellenden
Cameron now has to walk the tightrope, argues Naomi Harris of Bellenden
Like all sequels, much of the supporting cast remains the same with George Osborne, Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond, Theresa May and Nicky Morgan all returning in their old roles.  

Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are back too, but this time as Leader of the House and Justice Secretary respectively. David Cameron will be looking at these two, who are unafraid to take on the tougher roles or to ad lib, to successfully lead negotiations on expansive constitutional reform in the shape of greater devolution and the British Bill of Rights.
Grayling will face SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who was undoubtedly the star turn of this election campaign and will be hoping for a long-running plot line. 

Grayling is unlikely to underestimate her or her power as she now leads the third biggest party in Westminster.  

However, he will be all too aware that the deal he secures has to be the finest balance to try to stem the break-up of the United Kingdom.  

Too little and the SNP will argue that it does not deliver on Cameron’s promise to give more powers to Scotland, potentially qualifying as the ‘material change’ Sturgeon has said is necessary for another referendum.  

Too much and backbench Conservatives will argue that England is being placed at a disadvantage, potentially leading to a rebellion that Cameron can ill-afford with a majority of just 12.  

English Votes for English Laws will be the counterweight, but it will be a difficult act to pull off.
Gove’s task will be no easier as he will seek to replace the Human Rights Act with the British Bill of Rights, thereby making the Supreme Court ‘supreme’ and preventing the European Court of Human Rights from overruling its judgements.  

We all know that Gove, who spearheaded education reform as Secretary of State, is not afraid of controversy or a scrap and arguably, as a majority Government, the Conservatives can take a few more risks.

However, they cannot risk opening up multiple flanks when the biggest challenge of them all – Europe – is looming on the horizon.  

David Davis, speaking on Friday and over the weekend, has already said that at least 60 Conservative MPs will rebel if Cameron does not move to secure an opt-out from EU law, a so-called ‘Luxembourg principle’.

For this sequel to work, Cameron must maintain the loyalty of his backbenchers.  

This will require him to refrain from putting too much on the legislative agenda that could result in splits within the party, and to build a more collaborative style of Government.  

Today (Monday 11 May), Cameron will meet with the 1922 Committee, where he will set out his plan for Government.  

The tone of this meeting, and the length of the Queen’s Speech on 27 May, could well determine the success of Cameron, The Return to Downing Street. 

Naomi Harris is managing director, public affairs, at Bellenden

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