7.45pm: No.10 has just released an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley. Their most significant revelation? That Lansley is standing down as an MP at the next election. Here’s the relevant text:
“Earlier this year, I told you that I did not intend to stand again at the next election. You supported my ambition to continue my life of public service in challenging and important roles. I am grateful to you now for expressing your support for me to take such a role in international public service in the months ahead.”
But also a mystery in that final sentence: “I am grateful to you now for expressing your support for me to take such a role in international public service in the months ahead,” writes Lansley. That “role in international public service” is yet to be specified, but it makes you wonder: did he expect the EU Commissioner job?!
6.40pm: With Stephen Crabb today becoming the first bearded Conservative Cabinet minister for over a century, what better excuse for excavating this classic ConHome illustration?
6.30pm: One of the questions I asked below has now been answered in the best possible way:
Leader of Lords Baroness Stowell salary is being supplemented to cabinet level rank with funds from Tory Party, not taxpayer.
— Patrick Wintour (@patrickwintour) July 15, 2014
6.05pm: Ah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign Office is Tobias Ellwood. Still no word on a prisons minister.
6pm: Apparently, the reshuffle is over. But, as Dods point out, we’re still awaiting a prisons minister and a Foreign Office minister. Have the roles been done away with? Have they been wrapped up with someone else’s job? Questions, questions, questions, to which you can add even more. Why will Baroness Stowell be paid less than her predecessor as Leader of the Lords? What are the parameters of Esther McVey’s expanded role? While we ponder those, Guido may have hit on the job change that really matters:
Jeremy Heywood quietly takes the title of Head of the Civil Service and Cabinet Secretary whilst we focus on middle management changes… — Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) July 15, 2014
5.30pm: We finally know what role the buoyant Sam Gyimah has risen to. After spells as the Prime Minister’s PPS and then in the Whips’ Office, he’s moving to the new-look Education Department as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. That ministerial team – with Gyimah, Morgan and Boles – has been so vigorously shaken up that Nick Gibb’s earlier reappointment looks like a steadying act. Unlike the others, Gibb has been there and done that. He knows the schools reform agenda inside-out.
And we’ve also heard that Jo Johnson will be a minister of state in the Cabinet Office, whilst retaining his gig as head of the Downing St policy unit. The two roles might overlap a fair bit, even if only in spirit. As I’ve tried to explain before, the Cabinet Office is basically a think-tank within Government.
5pm: In case you were in any doubt about what Philip Hammond’s main focus will be at the Foreign Office, he’s been talking to the Beeb about Europe. Here, via PoliticsHome, is what he said:
“I’m going to focus on making sure that we get a successful renegotiation with our European partners. I don’t think the way to enter a negotiation is to start issuing threats. The way to enter a negotiation is to look for the areas where we do agree. There are many issues where Britain is not isolated, where there are other members of the European Union that also understand the need for reform and particularly understand the need for reform to allow the Eurozone and the non-Eurozone part of Europe to be able to work together. I’m going to go into these discussions with the prime minister and the chancellor in a very positive mindset and I believe it will be possible to renegotiate significant change to the way the European Union works.”
Of course, I say “main focus” – but the world and its happenings have a way of diverting a Foreign Secretary’s attention.
4.40pm: Pete Hoskin here. The reshuffle, and the afternoon, is certainly in its wind-down phase. The most recent movements have been around the Whips’ Office. Not only has Gove denied that he’s been demoted – “No, I’m part of a key team” – but it’s also been announced that Therese Coffey, Damian Hinds, Mel Stride and Ben Wallace have been made Assistant Government Whips. Also, Alun Cairns has been made a Government Whip as well as a junior minister at the Welsh Office. Coffey, it should be noted, is already getting into the spirit of her new role with some Government-approved hashtags:
4pm: If anyone thought that moving Gove from Education would stop those fascinating (and, for the Government, awkward) blogposts from Dominic Cummings, it looks like they were wrong. The man himself says: “FYI lobby: am doing no interviews, no briefing, in mtngs, will blog later in week”.
3.30pm: We can expect a lot more gags like this from the backbenches in coming months: 3pm Mark here again. Most of the jobs have now been dished out, so things are starting to wind down somewhat. A handful of MPs have recently been inside Number 10, but their posts (if any) haven’t yet been announced – they are Therese Coffey, Sam Gyimah and Tobias Ellwood. When asked by assembled hacks what she’d got, Therese enigmatically replied “you’ll find out soon enough”.
I believe this could be the last person to enter No10 for reshuffle… Tobias Ellwood MP — Sophy Ridge (@SophyRidgeSky) July 15, 2014
2.40pm Asa Bennett of the Huffington Post seems to have been the first to point out that the Leader of the Lords has apparently been demoted. Jonathan Hill, Britain’s new EU Commissioner, was a full Cabinet member. Tina Stowell, his replacement, will only have “right to attend”. Elsewhere, Brooks Newmark is the new Minister for Civil Society and Ed Vaizey becomes Minister responsible for digital industries. Looks like an expansion of the latter’s empire to me. 2.20pm Eric Pickles survives – still in place at CLG with his friend, ally and fellow former council leader, Brandon Lewis. By the way, I make it that the already big Cabinet is bigger by one, now that Matthew Hancock as well as Esther McVey have the right to attend. 2pm George Freeman becomes a Bis Minister and Andrew Murrison moves from Defence to Northenrn Ireland. On Fox, Lord Ashcroft has tweeted that Cameron made the offer knowing it would be turned down. My response is that the Prime Minister is playing a risky game if that is indeed the case. To which our proprietor replies: “always the problem when insincerity raises it’s head….” 1.40pm Confirmed: Fox turned down the post presently occupied by Hugo Swire (who, we must therefore presume, us leaving Government). We have his statement: “I was honoured to be offered a post as Minister of State in the Foreign Office by the Prime Minister. I have turned it down. The issues that matter most to me and my constituents in North Somerset are the economy, immigration and Europe. I do not want to be distracted from what needs to be said on these matters at such an important time politically and I look forward to discussing them from the backbenches in the lead up to the General Election.” To me, that last line has a distinct air of menace. Fox was never likely to accept a post that gave him no right to attend Cabinet, and the offer would therefore have been better not. Elsewhere, Robert Buckland is Solicitor-General, Desmond Swayne moves from the Whips Office to DFID, and we have two moves that recognise there’s a way back to Government – from sacking or from opposition. Nick Gibb return to Education as a Minister of State – as I suggested in May – and Julian Brazier goes to Defence as an Under-Secretary. The dedicated Gibb was unfairly removed from his post in an earlier shuffle, and Brazier, a former Opposition Defence Spokesman, has done a sterling job defending the Government’s reservists’ plan – here he is writing about it on this site. 1.20pm Paul Goodman here and writing. The Liam Fox mystery seems to be solved. The briefing about his return was so prominent it simply had to have come from Government sources. According to James Chapman of the Mail, he was indeed offered a post. But not in Cabinet. And perhaps not even with the “right to attend” – back at the Foreign Office, where he started off as a Minister during the 1990s. It seems he has refused. If true, was the Minister for Europe post opened for him, or the other Foreign Office Commons Minister of State post? 1pm: It’s interesting to watch Labour try to settle on a response to the reshuffle. There’s been a snipe from Gloria del Piero about women, but nothing more on the topic. They’ve dug up an old Stephen Crabb quote about devolution. They’ve even tried to suggest MPs who voted against Same Sex Marriage cannot be Ministers at all. All in all, they don’t seem to have found a line that works yet, and are instead trying out a variety. 12.55pm: Penny Mordaunt is given the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at CLG. Anna Soubry is promoted to Minister of State at Defence. Elsewhere, Amber Rudd has been promoted to become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DECC – she was previously PPS to George Osborne. 12.40pm: The reshuffle is starting to reach the Treasury:
- David Gauke is promoted from Exchequer Secretary to Financial Secretary to the Treasury, succeeding Nicky Morgan
- Priti Patel (columnist of this parish) steps up to be Exchequer Secretary – a pleasing appointment for the Right of the party
In other news, Claire Perry is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Transport (a reward for her loyalty as well as her profile), John Hayes is now Minister of State at Transport (and will continue his Cabinet Office role, too), and Oliver Letwin has added Lord Privy Seal to his Government Policy role. 12.20pm: This is a campaigning reshuffle – as well as promoting good television performers, we’re told that Crosby presented polling on some people, namely Michael Gove, to inform the decision on their futures. Even given that focus on next year, it’s unusual that marginal seats influence the reshuffle – but that’s exactly what Portsmouth appears to be doing. Michael Fallon, Minister for the city, has been promoted to Defence Secretary, and there are a lot of rumours that Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, may join his team at the MoD. It appears that a pro-Portsmouth narrative was one of the considerations for the reshuffle, which is quite extraordinary. Noon: The big news among the ranks of Junior Ministers is the return of Mark Harper to the Government, just over five months after resigning over his cleaner. He’s well-liked in Westminster and an able Minister, but I suspect the wider electorate will be surprised he has been rehabilitated quite so soon. If, that is, they learn about it – it’s such a big reshuffle that the news might not cut through. In other moves, Nick Boles has left his home as Planning Minister to become a Minister of State shared between Education and Business. According to the official announcement, he will oversee the implementation of Same Sex Marriage, among other things. It will be interesting to see who replaces him in Planning – the need for new homes is pressing, and he has been an evangelist for the subject. Mike Penning, formerly Minister of State for Disabled People, takes up a cross-departmental role, too – he will now split his time between the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. In effect, he’ll be the new police minister, succeeding Damian Green. 11.40am: Sad news – Michael Fabricant is apparently uncontactable as his Blackberry is being fixed by the Parliamentary IT department. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost… 11.30am: Another raft of moves: Baroness Stowell is now Leader of the House of Lords, Jeremy Wright becomes Attorney General and Matt Hancock takes over from Fallon as Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy. Hancock will also attend Cabinet, a further signal that he’s taking on Fallon’s role as the Chief Minder of Vince Cable. With all these attendees, Cabinet is looking rather full – will there be any room for Liam Fox after all? It’s hard to see where. 11.10am: As everyone Googles the words “Lord” and “Hill”, don’t forget there are still other appointments underway. Stephen Crabb has just been confirmed as Welsh Secretary, which was widely expected, while Greg Clark will add Minister for Science and Universities to his brief – apparently on top of his role as Minister for Cities at the Cabinet Office. He will also continue to attend the Cabinet. 10.55am: Paul has written at greater length about the decision to move Gove: “We had a great Education Secretary who had run into some trouble. He has thus been demoted into a job which ill fits his many talents.” Read the full piece here. 10.43am: After endless speculation, the Prime Minister has chosen to nominate Lord Hill to be Britain’s new EU Commissioner. Previously the Leader of the House of Lords, he was interviewed by ConHome’s Andrew Gimson last month – an interview which included the following exchange: ConHome: “If the Prime Minister asked you to be our next European commissioner, would you consent?” Hill: “Non, non, non.” ConHome: “You speak French! This means you are highly suitable.” Hill: “First, I don’t believe I’m going to be asked. Secondly, I like it here. I quite like it at home, in the British Isles. 10.28am: A surprise on the Esther McVey front – most had expected her to get a bump up to become a Cabinet Minister, but she’s staying as Minister for Employment and Disabilities. The job will be uprated somewhat, as she is going to attend Cabinet, but it’s not a fully fledged promotion. Might this be a consequence of what Number 10 felt were unhelpful remarks about Maria Miller? 10am: Michael Fallon is the new Defence Secretary. As we’ve noted in the past, Fallon is a loyal, hard-working Minister (as seen in his agreement to hold no less than three different posts at the same time – Enterprise, Energy and Portsmouth). This is certainly a reward for that dedication, but it’s also something more. For a start, he’s a sound media performer. His promotion is also something of a reply to the argument seen on the front page of most papers this morning, namely that this is a bad reshuffle for white, middle-aged men. For all that, it’s a much deserved appointment. 9.50am: The sackings took place in Cameron’s Commons office last night, to avoid shots of grimaces or tears on Downing Street. The happy business of today takes place at Number 10, though, so we do have some shots of cheery up-and-comers arriving (and the traditional shouted questions from the assembled media). Here’s Liz Truss being asked “Have you got your wellies?” 9.30am, Tuesday: Good morning, and welcome back! Mark Wallace here again. The plan was that yesterday would be sacking day and today would be moves, promotions and appointments day. It’s broadly panning out like that (bar any last-minute flouncing). Here is the round-up of what’s happened so far this morning:
- Michael Gove has replaced Sir George Young as Chief Whip
- Nicky Morgan has replaced Michael Gove as Education Secretary
- Liz Truss has replaced Owen Paterson as Secretary of State at DEFRA
- Philip Hammond has replaced William Hague as Foreign Secretary
10.30pm: A roll call of the moved and departed to date, five questions – and a tribute. William Hague (moved), Owen Paterson, Ken Clarke, David Jones, David Willetts, Damian Green, Dominic Grieve, Greg Barker, Alan Duncan, Andrew Robathan, Nick Hurd, Stephen Hammond – and now Hugh Robertson (confirming Beth Rigby’s tweet) and Sir George Young: he’s on Number Ten’s just-released list of departing Ministers. Will Greg Hands, Osborne ally, replace him as Chief Whip? * The Left and Right of the Party will both claim they have been hit. But at Cabinet level, the Right is net one down, having lost Paterson and Jones. What will Cameron do to make it up to the Right tomorrow – probably with Liam Fox? * Would the Foreign Office be ready for Philip Hammond – the man who agreed with Michael Gove in 2012 that were he to choose now he would plump for leaving the EU? * Who will go in as Defence Secretary? (P.S: Anna Soubry is a Defence Minister. Just saying.) * How would George Osborne regard the boosting of Hammond’s future leadership credentials? After all, making the latter Foreign Secretary would make him a very big player indeed. * Above all, will this big shuffle – with those culled to date being male MPs from the pre-2010 intakes – go horribly wrong within the Conservative Parliamentary Party? Finally, the tribute. Hague has been and remains a great servant of his Party. Should be said. 10pm My source was right. William Hague is leaving the Foreign Office and leaves Parliament at the next election. He will be Leader of the House. There’s heavy briefing that neither Osborne or May will replace him. Tom Bradby of ITV is being briefed that Phillip Hammond will replace him. Such a move would make Hammond the most senior person in Cabinet on the right, with the exception of Iain Duncan Smith – and set him up as potential leadership candidate. He tends to lead the also-rans in ConservativeHome’s poll of possible future leaders. 9.45pm It’s being claimed that William Hague will leave the Foreign Office to become Leader of the House – which would certainly free him up for the election campaign as a major Tory voice from the north. But the assumption has been that Cameron will want to keep his top three Ministers in place as a sign of continuity and strength. I can scarcely believe that Hague will move, but have to add that my source is strong. Also: see James Landale below. 9.25pm Tim Montgomerie is tweeting that Owen Paterson has gone. It’s a pity. Paterson is immensely hard-working, principled and (usually) right. He was over how to handle flooding; he has a point, and more, on climate change. But his digging his heels on the latter won’t have helped him in Downing Street: no wonder Lord Lawson moved to support him last weekend. The move makes it more likely that Liam Fox will come back to balance. I have to add that some in Paterson’s circle have been less than deft in their support of his cause during the last few months – and, in my view, must take some of the blame for his departure. 9.15pm Robathan was one of David Cameron’s main backers when he ran for the Party leadership in 2005. He’s going. So was Greg Barker – and he’s going too, according to the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope: indeed, he will apparently stand down at the next election. Barker is an enthusiast for combating climate change, and the man co-snapped in those campaigning photos with Cameron and huskies. He is doubtless off to make money: a sign that Commons careers and turnover are becoming more rapid. And it may be Lord Barker in due course. 9pm Calm down, dears. Lots of rubbish on Twitter about a slaughter of the Tory left – some of it from people who should know better. Jones and Stephen Hammond are on the centre-right. So is Robathan – a member of one of the main Conservative Eurosceptic dining clubs. So is Alan Duncan, who is (or certainly was) a member of the No Turning Back. It’s being a middle aged man that makes you a target in this shuffle – not being a left-of-Tory-centre Conservative. P.S: Will it be Sir Alan, by the way? 8.35pm Dominic Grieve out, according to Sky News. If so, the path to Theresa May and Chris Grayling pursuing a British exit from the ECHR will be clearer. 8.30pm Paul Goodman here – taking over from Mark Wallace. This shuffle is taking shape. There’s clearly a cull of male Ministers from the pre-2010 intake who weren’t going up – so they’re going out. Green, Stephen Hammond, Hurd, Robathan: four to date below Cabinet level. (Clarke, Jones, Willetts leave vacancies around the Cabinet table.) Cameron must beware of the revenge of Prufrock – as I wrote this morning and Tom Bradby suggests below. Beth Rigby of the Financial Times is suggesting that Hugh Robertson may go; at a more senior level, there’s a lot of speculation about Owen Paterson. 8.18pm: Rail Minister Stephen Hammond has gone, as has Damian Green, the Police and Criminal Justice Minister. 8.05pm: There’s a good question about what happens to the teams of the ministers who are leaving. Their SpAds often depart, as many of them are personal appointments, but the future for their PPS’s is rather less certain – some are there for reasons of personal loyalty, some for reasons of expertise. Others may be good at the topic but might not get on with the new minister they are working for. MPs like Ben Wallace (Ken Clarke’s PPS) and Daniel Kawczynski (David Jones’ PPS) may well undergo the longest reshuffle as a result – not only finding out their bosses have gone, but then awaiting their replacements to find out their fate. 7.43pm: Another to go is David Willetts – he not only is no longer Universities Minister, but has also announced he intends to leave parliament at the next election. It’s noteworthy that so far most of the ministerial departures that have been announced are graceful decisions to “step down”. That doesn’t of course mean all those involved were that keen on leaving – but that they’ve been persuaded this is the loyal/polite/honourable way – “greater love hath no minister than this, than he giveth up his job for the appearance of unity”. I wonder how many political knighthoods we might see among those who have taken this route. 7.36pm: Nick Hurd steps down as Minister for Civil Society:
Am standing down having been given by DC the rare opportunity to do six years in a wonderful brief. Very proud of what we achieved. — Minister Civ Soc (@minforcivsoc) July 14, 2014
7.26pm: Two more names on the “Out” list – Alan Duncan, previously International Development Minister, is leaving the Government (“at his own request”, Tom Newton Dunn reports) as is Minister of State for Northern Ireland Andrew Robathan.
7.18pm: It’s worth noting that we haven’t heard anything at all about the Lib Dems so far – they’re an awkward spot for Cameron, given that he doesn’t have full control of who fills their seats but their lack of female MPs still drags down his numbers. Clegg confirmed recently that Vince Cable would keep his job until the election, but beyond that they’ve kept very quiet.
7pm: Boris is apparently making the most of the fact his party was so rudely interrupted, telling his audience: “I’ve been standing by my phone all evening waiting for the call to Brussels.”
6.40pm: The peculiar beast which is the Westminster reshuffle is distinguished as much by the confusion that surrounds it as by the actual news. Take for example the speculation about Eric Pickles – Tom McTague and Jason Beattie of The Mirror say he’s moving from DCLG, while Tom Newton Dunn of The Sun says he’s staying. All I hear is that no-one yet knows, and he’s due to host the summer reception for the Local Government APPG this evening in the Commons – which could be awkward.
6.20pm: A small angle to the proceedings, but it’s amusing to note that the reshuffle coincides with what was meant to be Boris’ summer drinks with political journalists, all of whom are now welded to their desks for the foreseeable future. I’m sure it’s a coincidence but I doubt there’s a huge amount of regret at Number 10 about spoiling the bash.
6pm: Hello, Mark Wallace here. It’s finally upon us – the reshuffle has begun. I’ll be updating this blog as the sackings, promotions, suprises and disappointments occur. If you spot anything particularly interesting or amusing, please do post it in the comments below.
The first heads to roll are those of David Jones, the Secretary of State for Wales, and Ken Clarke, Minister without Portfolio. While Jones has only been in the Cabinet since September 2012, Clarke is of course somewhat longer in the tooth, having first served as a minister in 1982. While much of the attention at the reshuffle is on gender, it’s worth remembering that MPs will also be interpreting it in terms of ideology – Jones’ departure will be seen as a loss to the Right of the party.
The plan is apparently for the Prime Minister to remove all those who are going this evening (presumably wary of a repeat of last time, when Baroness Warsi effectively refused to be sacked), and then doing appointments tomorrow, so there is no word as yet who might replace them. There are however rumours that Stephen Crabb may be the next Secretary of State for Wales.