Hayes the man for the job: PM beefs up parliamentary defences
David Cameron has raised eyebrows across Westminster before the Easter break by promoting one of his more unpredictable ministers, John Hayes, to No 10.
Hayes' move to become 'senior parliamentary adviser' to the prime minister puts him in a strong position to monitor and nip any nascent rebellions in the bud in the Commons tearooms.
He leaves behind the Department of Energy and Climate Change's (Decc) flagship energy bill halfway through its progress through parliament, raising question-marks about official claims the move has nothing to do with coalition tensions at Decc.
Cameron tweeted he was "delighted" that Hayes would be "joining me as a senior parliamentary adviser".
But the opposition reacted with disdain to news Hayes' replacement, Michael Fallon, who is to effectively jobshare by keeping his current brief at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
"In the next decade Britain needs to attract over £100 billion of investment to keep the lights on," shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint commented.
"But David Cameron appears to think that keeping tabs on his unruly Tory backbenchers is more important than the country’s energy policy. David Cameron now has four ministers without portfolio, paid for by the taxpayer, but only one part-time energy minister."
Hayes' seven months at Decc have provided coalition observers with the clearest cut example of an internal departmental division triggered by policy differences.
Its Liberal Democrat secretary of state, Ed Davey, was forced to take legal advice investigating whether Hayes' uncompromising attack on wind farms left his department open to judicial review.
Today's move is thought to have been more motivated by a desire to get Cameron's position in parliament shored up, however, than because Davey could no longer stand working with his troublesome junior.
He will act as a spokesperson for the Conservative party, but his primary usefulness for the prime minister is expected to be in dealing with his troublesome backbenchers.
Hayes has a powerful intellect which many had thought might be too free-thinking for a conventional job in the corridors of power. He said recently: "I was always an outsider to be Pope, but my infallibility was a strength."