There's a cabinet reshuffle coming and all indications are it's going to be a big one. It'll be a defining moment for the coalition government, one which will set the tone for how it implements many of the policies it's passed into law over the last couple of years.
Over the past few months the coalition's been through its rockiest period so far, with major Tory backbench rebellions, a botched Budget and plummeting poll ratings. Everyone knows the government needs a reboot, and a reshuffle also provides a chance for some of the new blood on the coalition backbenches to be promoted. The only trouble for David Cameron is how many of the old guard he can boot out the door without causing mounting resentment among those who've lost their jobs.
So far David Cameron hasn't really gone in for reshuffles. Each time he's lost a minister because of some scandal he's only moved the chess pieces around to plug gaps, promoting from within the government and leaving all the key players where they are. It's a departure from previous governments in recent years - Tony Blair reshuffled so often it was hard for ministers to get their feet under the table before they were whisked off somewhere else.
Cameron's always felt that it's better to give people a chance to bed down and make a difference in the departments they're overseeing. For some ministers like Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Andrew Lansley it's given them two years to push major policy changes through Parliament. These ministers might want to stick around to implement the legislation they've passed - IDS has long been thought to only want to do welfare and pensions. Whichever way you look at it there's a traffic jam at the top of government. To get new blood into the government, some people are going to have to go. We explore where some of the Cabinet heavyweights could be moved to - including out the door.
Others like Michael Gove could be forgiven for seeking a higher office. It's thought, for example, that Gove covets the Foreign Office at a time when pressure to find a solution for Syria and Iran look likely to dominate the world agenda.
The PM also has a problem with at least one senior minister who's viewed as "walking wounded" - Jeremy Hunt's reputation was damaged by the blow-by-blow accounts to the Leveson inquiry, over his involvement in the aborted BSkyB takeover deal by News International. A successful Olympics might give him a boost, but questions will remain over whether Hunt can be trusted with higher office, and whether he can ever be rehabilitated.
Less damaged, but hardly smelling of roses, is health secretary Andrew Lansley. He got his NHS reforms through Parliament earlier this year but the whole process was messy. Lansley failed to convince health professionals that what he was doing was in the bests interests of the NHS. As the massive changes to the health service begin to be implemented, perhaps someone less toxic with the people whose jobs will be affected might be better at the helm?
Central to this reshuffle is whether David Cameron decides to keep his chancellor in post or ditch George Osborne in favour of someone else. There's been a lot of speculation in the past few weeks that Osborne might pay a high price for the "omnishambles" budget and have to give up Number 11, possibly to concentrate on Tory political strategy. This was dismissed as nonsense by sources close to David Cameron, nevertheless the pressure for Osborne to stop being a "part-time chancellor" and focus on doing one job properly looks overwhelming.
Even if Osborne remains Chancellor, we thought it'd be fun to speculate about who could replace him, so why not join us later this week in a political death-match?
Cam's also under pressure to elevate more women to high office. Everyone accepts that the Tories have a big problem with women voters, and relations with the fairer sex have soured further by introducing abitrary child benefit cuts and obstacles to getting legal aid in domestic violence cases. We've looked at the likely fates awaiting those women already within Cabinet, along with some punts on some rising stars who might get promotions.
One constant problem facing the Prime Minister is the need to keep a fixed number of Lib Dems in the government - this isn't something Cameron can dispense with because it's bound into the terms of the coalition agreement. With a fairly small talent pool to draw from, later this week we'll look at who might come back, and the critical question of how David Laws might return to front-line politics.
Once the Olympics are out of the way, expect reshuffle speculation to reach fever-pitch ahead of party conference season. Many expect the morning when ministers will be summoned to Downing Street to learn their fate to come in the first week of September.
HuffPost UK will be following every development, and indulging in more than a little healthy gossip along the way. Check out our Liveblog, and tell us who you think is ripe for the chop!
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