Over the past twenty-four hours, the Prime Minister has been conducting a re-shuffle of both Cabinet posts and junior ministerial roles.
From the start, the reshuffle was a rather small-c conservative affair with the Prime Minister having already confirmed that Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd, David Davis and Philip Hammond would retain their roles as Foreign Secretary, Brexit Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor respectively.
The reshuffle commenced yesterday afternoon, with the departure of the Conservative party Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin and his replacement with Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis. The replacement of the veteran minister McLoughlin as Party Chairman was mired in confusion, with the Conservative party’s official Twitter account having first welcomed Chris Grayling as his replacement, only to perform a volte face minutes later and announce Lewis’ appointment.
Lewis, a pugnacious former local council leader and Immigration Minister, is expected to bring a more combative approach to the role of Party Chairman; with James Cleverly, a popular figure among Conservative activists, serving as his deputy.
Arguably the largest surprise of the day was the Prime Minister’s decision to keep Jeremy Hunt – already among the longest-serving health secretaries in history – in his post, with additional responsibility for social care policy. Hunt, who is said to have insisted on remaining in the Health post, had been linked with the vacant role of First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark retained his portfolio, with his departmental colleague Claire Perry being granted the right to attend Cabinet.
The former Justice Secretary David Lidington became Cabinet Office Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, taking on the responsibilities previously held by Damian Green prior to his December resignation. He was replaced as Justice Secretary by David Gauke, the highly-regarded Work and Pensions Secretary. Gauke’s role as Work and Pensions Secretary will be filled by Esther McVey, the Liverpool-born MP who previously served as a minister in the Department during David Cameron’s government.
The outgoing Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley replaced former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire following the latter’s resignation on health grounds, with Matt Hancock taking her place as Secretary of State.
Justine Greening, the former Education Secretary, was removed from her post by the Prime Minister after allegations of over-cautiousness in the delivery of education reforms. She declined the post of Work and Pensions Secretary, instead opting for a move to the backbenches. Greening’s former post has been filled by Damian Hinds.
Responding to the reshuffle, the former Conservative Defence Minister Sir Nicholas Soames caustically issued a tweet begging the question: “is that it?”
While the reshuffle had been presented in the media as a means by which to refresh the Conservative party’s front-line performers and to promote women and ethnic minority MPs, the composition of the Cabinet remains largely unchanged – with the most significant alterations having been made at a junior ministerial level.
Much to the Prime Minister’s dismay, Jeremy Corban has seized upon the lack of fresh faces at the Cabinet table, describing it as a “pointless and lacklustre PR exercise” – a view seemingly shared by a large part of the media commentarial.
The reshuffle remains underway, with further ministerial appointments expected to be made later this evening – including replacements for Stephen Barclay as City Minister and Margot James as Consumer Minister.
If you have any comments or questions regarding the reshuffle and its impact upon your sector or business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with FTI Consulting’s UK Public Affairs team.
Summary of appointments at 18:15
At a Cabinet level, the following new appointments have been made:
- Karen Bradley as Northern Ireland Secretary
- David Gauke as Justice Secretary
- Matt Hancock as Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary
- Brandon Lewis as Conservative Party Chair and Minister Without Portfolio
- Esther McVey as Work and Pensions Secretary
- Caroline Noakes as Immigration Minister at the Home Office (attending Cabinet)
- Claire Perry as Climate Change and Industry Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (attending Cabinet)
The following new junior ministerial appointments have been made:
- Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma has become Minister of State for Employment
- Justice Minister Dominic Raab has become Minister of State for Housing
- Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Jo Johnson has become Minister of State for Transport and Minister for London
- Prisons and Probation Minister Sam Gyimah has become Minister of State at the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Minister for Higher Education)
- Work and Pensions Minister Caroline Dinenage has become Minister of State for Health and Social Care
- Economic Secretary (City Minister) Stephen Barclay has become Minister of State for Health and Social Care
- Middle East Minister Rory Stewart has become Minister of State for Justice
- Small Business Minister Margot James has become Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has become Minister of State at the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development
- Conservative MP Rishi Sunak has become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
- Conservative MP Lucy Frazer has become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice
- Conservative MP Oliver Dowden has become Parliamentary Under Secretary for Cabinet Office
- Conservative MP Kit Malthouse has become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- Conservative MP Robert Jenrick has become Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
- Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi has become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education
- Conservative MP Suella Fernandes has become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. This is a new role at the Department
The following will remain in post:
- Industry and Energy Minister Richard Harrington
- Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry
- Sport and Civil Society Minister Tracey Crouch
- Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel Minister Mark Lancaster
- School Reform Minister Nick Gibb
- Environment and Rural Life Opportunities Minister Dr Thérèse Coffey
- Exiting the European Union Minister Lord Callanan
- Europe and the Americas Minister Sir Alan Duncan
- Foreign Office and International Development Minister Alistair Burt
- Policing and the Fire Service Minister Nick Hurd
- Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace
- International Trade Minister Greg Hands
- Solicitor General Robert Buckland