People often judge Cabinet ministers on how well they perform on the media and whether they are 'sound'. Both of these are important qualities, but it is frequently overlooked that ministers must be on top of their departmental functions. This includes having a productive relationship with their civil servants, giving clear direction but also confident enough to challenge sloppy thinking.
Those being tipped for the axe include some of those most notorious for being unable to keep up with their ministerial 'boxes'. Although in fairness that also applies to one or two who are tipped as being most likely to survive!
Grayling helped to run May's campaign to be leader in 2016, so she is reluctant to remove one of her few allies in the Cabinet. Sadly, he isn't really very good. His SPADs are among the nicest people in "Whitehall" but they aren't the brightest.
She's not much good at public speaking, but she is actually much brighter than is commonly supposed and is one of the most imaginative ministers at proposing ideas, and she works well with other ministers (who value her but don't see her as a threat). Personally, I wouldn't promote her for now, but keep her as Chief Secretary - she has been quite effective at the Despatch Box recently, on top of the brief and mocking John McDonnell. If Gove were to become Chancellor, he would find it useful to have her (as an accountant) with him at the Treasury. They worked well together before at Education and, for all his many qualities and his attempts to talk "economicky" words, figures have not generally been seen as his strong point.
It is tempting to judge cabinet ministers on how well they are perceived on the media and how committed to Brexit they are. Both of these are important, but it is also essential that cabinet ministers have other qualities: can they work collaboratively with other cabinet colleagues? Do they have a vision for what their department ought to achieve? Do they work well with the officials in their departments yet challenge them to overcome inertia? Are they competent?
On that basis, the 4 ministers proposed for leaving the cabinet fail most of these questions. Most of the others (including most of those frequently criticised in comments on this site) do these pretty well, although the lack of leadership from number 10 does inhibit many of them.
Very good article, but not really true that Tony Blair had two election calls and both resulted in three figure majorities. He did have 2 election victories with 3 figure majorities - in 1997 and 2001, but the former was not his call (re timing). His second "call" was in 2005 which for him was a very respectable result after being in office for 8 years and the Iraq war, but the majority then was only 66.
Many of the Cabinet were indeed aware of May's inadequacies, but they were under the belief from anecdotal evidence on the doorstep, backed up by internal polling, that she was incredibly popular with the electorate. Sadly, of course, the support was broad but shallow, and collapsed spectacularly during the election campaign when some of her negative character traits became more widely apparent.
That didn't help, but the objections I hear from MPs and civil servants is that he does not read his briefs and is ungenerous to others in that he takes credit for himself when others have done the hard work.
And he has carefully built a façade as a champion of the working class, whereas he went to independent school and has worked as a political activist (away from the real world) all his life.
If you think that no Conservative MP has a bad word to say about Halfon, you don't know them as well as you think.