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May defends record ahead of reshuffle

The prime minister has defended her record and set out her plans for the coming year, as she prepares to reshuffle her cabinet.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, she defended NHS funding amid questions over the handling of winter pressures.

She set out plans for the environment and parole reform after the decision to release sex attacker John Worboys.

On the NHS, Labour said: “She hasn’t got a plan to get those people off the trolleys and corridors”.

Theresa May confirmed a cabinet reshuffle was imminent, but refused to give any detail.

She is expected to replace Damian Green, who was sacked as first secretary of state in December, but keep key figures such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mrs May also:

  • Said she knew one of John Worboys’ victims, and she wanted to bring “greater openness” to the parole system
  • Warned Toby Young about his language amid calls for him to be sacked from job at university regulator for tweets about women
  • Set out plans to create a new Northern Forest stretching from Liverpool to Hull have been kick-started
  • Dropped a manifesto pledge to hold a vote on the fox-hunting ban during this parliament
  • Confirmed President Trump would be coming to the UK

‘More to do’

On the NHS, Theresa May defended the government’s handling of the winter crisis, saying that thousands of cancelled operations in January were “part of the plan” for coping with pressures on the health service.

She insisted the NHS was delivering care to more people than ever before.

Mrs May said she wanted cancelled operations to be “reinstated as soon as possible,” but added the government was “making sure that those who most urgently need care” get it quickly.

Mr Marr disputed the idea that urgent care was being delivered in time, raising the case of Leah Butler-Smith and her mother, who, having suffered a stroke, waited an hour in an ambulance and a further four in A&E before seeing a doctor.

“If I’d been waiting for five hours before I’d seen a doctor after my stroke I would not be here talking to you. This is about life and death and up and down the country people are having horrendous experiences of the NHS,” he said.

The prime minister said she had not heard of the specific case and so could not comment.

She said: “If we look at what is happening across the NHS, what we see is that actually the NHS is delivering for more people, it is treating more people and more people are being seen within the four hours every day than has been a few years ago.”

“But of course nothing’s perfect and there is more for us to do”, she added.

Fresh faces

The interview comes ahead of a cabinet reshuffle, which is expected to take place across Monday and Tuesday.

Several newspapers have reported that Education Secretary Justine Greening will be among those to lose her role although No 10 has described this and other speculation as “guesswork”.

Mrs May told Mr Marr that Damian Green’s exit as first secretary of state in December – he was sacked after making “misleading statements” to the press about pornography found on his office computer in 2008 – meant a reshuffle was needed but she would not pre-empt what would be announced.

Labour reacted angrily to rumours that Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, may be promoted to fill the vacancy.

“They should be demoting this health secretary. If she promotes this health secretary tomorrow it’s a betrayal of those 75,000 people (waiting) in the back of ambulances,” the shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, told Mr Marr.

Two other cabinet ministers – Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel – have also quit since November but they have already been replaced as defence secretary and international development secretary respectively.

While Mrs May is believed to be planning to promote more women and MPs from ethnic minorities, it is expected that prominent cabinet members such as Boris Johnson, David Davis and Philip Hammond will stay in their roles.

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