Published:

347 comments

Midnight

One last name!

  • Energy Minister: Kwasi Kwarteng. Kwarteng reportedly almost missed out on this job by not answering his phone, but he either turned it on in the end or Downing Street sent the SAS to deliver a note to him, because he takes over the Energy brief from Claire Perry.

We’ll learn more about this new Government in the morning, as the more junior roles are dished out. But here are a few overview numbers of the appointments so far, including Cabinet ministers and other ministers entitled to attend Cabinet:

  • 48 is the average age.
  • 14 of them voted Leave in 2016, and 18 voted Remain.
  • Six (18.75 per cent) are of a BME background.
  • Eight (25 per cent) are women.
  • Not including Boris Johnson himself, seven put themselves forward as leadership candidates in the recent contest an outright majority of the field. (That’s Javid, Raab, Hancock, Gove, Leadsom, Cleverly and McVey.)

23.10

At the end of a long day, a flurry of announcements from Downing Street to complete the list of Cabinet attendees:

  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Rishi Sunak. An additional Leaver around the table, Sunak is a successful businessman and a policy brain, widely expected to be promoted today.
  • Conservative Party Chairman: James Cleverly. A step up from Deputy to running the Party machine for one of Boris Johnson’s core group of lieutenants in City Hall. We suggested him for the job back in June, given his experience, and rapport with the grassroots. He is good friends with Brandon Lewis, his former boss whom he now supplants.
  • Housing Minister: Esther McVey. In a Government led by a Prime Minister who previously resigned over May’s handling of Brexit, McVey is another who quit the previous administration. A vocal Brexiteer, who cast herself as the voice of Blue Collar Conservatism, housing ought to be a key opportunity to make a demonstrable difference.
  • Leader of the House of Commons: Jacob Rees-Mogg. A hotly anticipated appointment, Rees-Mogg joins the front bench in a move which will please Moggmentum fans, if not necessarily his critics. As a leading light of the ERG he will be seen as a canary in the mine for the delivery of Brexit, but also seems set to take on a role in the media, appearing tonight on ITV’s Peston.
  • Security Minister: Brandon Lewis. Politics can be a cruel business – having overseen a rise in Party membership, the modernisation of the membership system, and a successful leadership contest, Lewis’s reward has been to lose his spot as Party Chairman to his deputy. Continuing to attend Cabinet in his new role is some recompense but he could justifiably feel a little bruised.
  • Universities Minister: Jo Johnson. Another person returning to a former job – the Prime Minister’s brother held this post for two and half years, before being moved to a role as a Transport Minister. He resigned from that post to support a second referendum – making him unique at meetings of the new Cabinet at having been a Remain-y rebel under May.
  • Paymaster General, and Minister for the Cabinet Office: Oliver Dowden. A policy person in the traditional model, Dowden worked at the Conservative Research Department, and as a key Special Adviser to David Cameron in Downing Street.

22.15

New appointment:

  • Alister Jack succeeds David Mundell to become Scotland Secretary. It’s a speedy rise for the former whip, as he becomes the first member of the 2017 intake to take a seat in the Cabinet.

Staying put:

  • Geoffrey Cox as Attorney General – the most highly-rated minister in our most recent Cabinet League Table.
  • Baroness Evans as Leader of the House of Lords.

Moving:

  • Julian Smith had been marked down prematurely by some (not ConservativeHome) as sacked when it was announced that Mark Spencer was the new Chief Whip. That was a mistake – the May loyalist becomes Northern Ireland Secretary.

21.30

  • Grant Shapps is the new Transport Secretary. Another member of Johnson’s campaign team, the former Party Chairman famously predicted exactly the number of votes his candidate would get in the first round of Parliamentary voting. He returns to Cabinet after a four year absence.
  • Alun Cairns keeps his job as Welsh Secretary. As we wrote previously, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • There’s a lot of talk of this being a Brexiteer Cabinet. However, I’ve been keeping a tally and in fact of the 19 members of the Government announced so far, 12 voted Remain in 2016 and seven voted Leave. As we have repeatedly argued, what matters to Johnson in designing his Cabinet is that he can rely on them to hold collectively to a firm policy on Brexit now, rather than whether they all voted with him in the referendum

21.10

  • Amber Rudd stays to serve in a Johnson government – something most people would have put down as impossible a few months or even a few weeks ago. Some Brexiteers will take a fair bit of persuading that she really is willing to hold to a No Deal if necessary collective policy, but evidently the new Prime Minister believes that she is. She keeps her role at DWP, and takes on Mordaunt’s old second job as Minister for Women and Equalities.
  • As expected, Robert Buckland becomes Justice Secretary. He’s a QC, and began today as Prisons Minister so is stepping up within the same department. Like Morgan, he supported Remain and is on the left of the Party by instinct, and so will broaden the Cabinet’s ideological base somewhat.
  • Alok Sharma has been appointed International Development Secretary. We had slated him as a possible Work and Pensions Secretary, had Rudd been unwilling to serve or deemed too risky to appoint. As she stays in post, he moves into the office vacated by Rory Stewart, and becomes the third ethnic minority member of the new Cabinet.

20.30

  • Three widely predicted returnees are next to emerge. Gavin Williamson, who played a key role in the Johnson campaign’s dominance of the Parliamentary stages of the leadership contest, becomes Education Secretary.
  • Andrea Leadsom, who burnished her Leaver credentials by resigning from May’s government, is the new Business Secretary.
  • Nicky Morgan takes over at Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – a role we suggested she be appointed to, not least as someone from the Party’s centre left, and as a former Remainer who engaged constructively with Malthouse to try to find workable solutions to Brexit.
  • Speaking of our suggestions, Robert Buckland is currently in Downing Street – we put his name down next to the post of Justice Secretary, but let’s see what Johnson decides.

20.15

  • Theresa Villiers – ERG member, Vote Leave supporter, former Northern Ireland Secretary and ex-MEP – is back in government, as the newly-appointed Environment Secretary. We tipped her for a return back in June, and her campaigning on animal rights (including to ban live animal exports) will chime with Johnson’s comments on that front in his Downing Street speech earlier today.
  • Unsurprisingly given his vocal support for Johnson after being knocked out of the leadership race, Matt Hancock keeps his job running Health and Social Care.
  • If the appointments are starting to get a bit dizzying, I’ve also started a rolling list of Cabinet members here. It’s striking that this is really quite a young Cabinet so far – their average is 47 years.

19.30

  • Ben Wallace succeeds Mordaunt as Defence Secretary. He was previously Security Minister, and was closely involved with the investigation of and response to the Salisbury attack. He served for eight years in the Army.
  • Liz Truss replaces Liam Fox as Secretary of State for International Trade. Good news for the prospects of opening up new pork markets.

19.15

  • A double-whammy promotion for Dominic Raab, who not only returns to Cabinet as Foreign Secretary, but also gets the title First Secretary of State, commonly referred to as Deputy Prime Minister. It’s a stark switch for the deputy job to go from David Lidington, keen Remain supporter and May loyalist, to Raab, who campaigned ardently for Leave and resigned in protest at May’s deal.
  • As various people have noted, this means that the Foreign Secretary, Chancellor and Home Secretary are all children of immigrants to this country, a striking fact.
  • Michael Gove, meanwhile, has been appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The always well-informed James Forsyth reports that the role will particularly focus on No Deal preparation.
  • Steve Barclay keeps the job of Brexit Secretary. He was a strong Johnson supporter during the leadership campaign.

18.45

  • Sajid Javid is the first big appointment, being promoted to Chancellor as was widely expected. Of all the leadership election candidates, it was he who really managed to boost his standing, and he arguably went out before he peaked. Now he reaps the benefit.
  • And Priti Patel has just been appointed Home Secretary.
  • Our argument back in June that Johnson would have to appoint a Cabinet based on their positions on No Deal if necessary, not on the usual principle of drawing as broadly as possible from the Party, is coming true. This looks increasingly like a Government designed first to hold together through a tough and potentially turbulent period, and secondly like one which might feel that an election could be coming up soon.
  • Claire Perry has agreed to move from Minister for Energy, in which capacity she attended Cabinet, to become President of the next UN Climate Change conference.

18.15

  • Well, my musing in the previous update about Jeremy Hunt’s status was 180 degrees wrong. He has confirmed that he chose to resign rather than accept “another role”, generally thought to have been Defence. Last week the big dilemma for Team Johnson was whether to keep him in Cabinet after the personal tone of some of his criticisms during the leadership race – ironically they decided to try to keep him only for him to walk. You could say that he opted to walk away rather than accept what he considered a bad deal.
  • In terms of the hopes of some Tory Remainers that he will become a key rebel, his comment that the “PM will have my full support” is notable.
  • The sackings continue, with a “disappointed” David Mundell out as Scotland Secretary, where he had been the longest-serving Cabinet minister in the same role. Jeremy Wright has also been sacked as Culture Secretary, and Mel Stride is no longer Leader of the House. It’s getting easier to list who hasn’t been culled than who has.
  • However, the more positive appointments phase appears to be beginning, as the action moves away from the privacy of Johnson’s Parliamentary office and towards the publicity of Downing Street – Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab have arrived at the latter, expecting good news.

17.45

  • It’s interesting to compare the news so far with our latest Cabinet League Table (annotated above). According to their ratings by the Party members on our survey panel, so far in this change of the guard we’ve lost the five lowest-rated ministers – May, Grayling, Hammond, Bradley and Gauke. A further four negative-rated ministers are gone – Clark, Rory Stewart, David Lidington and Caroline Nokes. So far, that makes nine of the 12 who had a negative rating. Hinds (+6.2), Fox (+11.6) and Brokenshire (+12.9) enjoyed a positive rating, but so far it’s definitely Mordaunt who was most popular among Party members – her most recent rating was +50.6, but now she’s out.
  • Caroline Nokes appears to have learned that she is no longer Immigration Minister via Twitter.
  • We’ve still heard nothing at all about Jeremy Hunt. It occurs to me that Boris Johnson might feel emboldened to sack people – particularly Hunt supporters – if his rival is on-side.

17.30

  • Chris Grayling has resigned as Transport Secretary. (Departing from Platform 4, 30 minutes delayed, etc etc)
  • Damian Hinds – another Hunt supporter – has been sacked as Education Secretary after just over 18 months in Cabinet.
  • James Brokenshire is also returning to the backbenches, apparently unwillingly. He backed Johnson for the leadership, but today says he is “looking forward to being released from collective responsibility”.
  • Karen Bradley has been sacked from the post of Northern Ireland Secretary.
  • Regarding those questions I asked earlier about Mordaunt’s departure, the BBC’s Nick Eardley reports that she was sacked outright, not offered any other position.

17.00

  • Good afternoon. Mark Wallace here, taking over the live blog for the evening. The storm clouds over Defence which Paul presciently referenced in his first post below have finally produced some thunder. Penny Mordaunt has tweeted that she is “heading to the backbenches”, only a few months after taking over at the Ministry of Defence. As a pretty popular figure within the Party, who was just starting to make a mark at the MoD, this will attract a fair bit of comment. We don’t yet know exactly what has happened or why. Has her department been given to someone else, after Boris Johnson reportedly offered it to Jeremy Hunt? Has she opted to resign after learning of that offer, or after turning down something she considered to be a demotion? Has she – as a vocal Hunt supporter and someone who apparently doesn’t get on very well with the new Prime Minister – simply opted not to serve, or been removed for the same reason? Importantly for the Government’s slim majority, her tweet adds that “the PM will have my full support”. In the meantime, this makes his pledge to increase the number of women in the Cabinet that bit harder.
  • This is the departures and sackings part of the shuffle, so don’t expect any Downing Street walk-ups or walk-outs. Instead we’ll be working from rumour, report and press release.
  • Liam Fox, once one of Johnson’s fellow Three Brexiteers, is out at the Department for International Trade – “sadly…leaving the government”, which suggests it is against his will. Nonetheless he adds that “I look forward to supporting Boris Johnson and the government from the backbenches.”
  • Greg Clark has also gone from Business – he has tweeted that Johnson “is right to appoint a new team for a new premiership and I wish him and them well for the vital work ahead”. Which is not quite the same as saying he’ll support him in it.

14.30

  • Now Lidington is gone – saying thatafter 20 yrs on the front bench it’s the right moment to move on”.  But he makes a point of saying that “I wrote to Boris Johnsonyesterday to congratulate him on his election, to wish him well & to say I’ve decided that  I shall leave the govt when Theresa May offers her resignation to The Queen”.  In another tweet, he adds that “I shall do all I can to help new govt secure a deal to allow an orderly departure [our italics] from the EU”.

14.00

  • Hammond, Gauke and Stewart have now all resigned.  In relation to Brexit and No Deal, the former’s resignation letter says simply that “I believe that your successor must be free to choose a successor who is fully aligned with his policy position”.  He is holding his fire.

9.45am

We are opening this live blog earlier than is perhaps proper.  Boris Johnson will not kiss hands until this afternoon, after Theresa May’s final PMQs, and a last statement from her outside Downing Street.  He is not Prime Minister yet and therefore cannot formally begin his reshuffle.

However, we can identify some themes and points even at this stage.

  • There will be at least three Cabinet resignations today – Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart are set to depart before Johnson takes office – and there are therefore at least three vacancies round the Cabinet table.  David Lidington will presumably refuse to serve under a Government committed to an October 31 No Deal: ditto, surely, Greg Clark.
  • Julian Smith, who as Chief Whip is entitled to attend Cabinet, is clearly moving up down or out.  That’s because the appointment of a new Chief Whip has been briefed out: Mark Spencer.  Spencer is Number Three in the current Whips’ Office, has served in it since the 2016 election, and is thus very experienced in terms of this relatively inexperienced office.  The key to the appointment seems to be, as so often, trust: Spencer has served as Johnson’s whip, and the two men get on well.  He is low-profile – which one wants in a whip – has been doubling up as Deputy Commons Leader, and is a former Remainer.  That his appointment has been welcomed on Twitter by both Rory Stewart and Steve Baker is a sign that Spencer has an ecumenical appeal among his colleages.  We also read the appointment as a sign that Johnson expects most of his trouble to come from the pro-Remain wing of the party, and wants to combine reach to it with continuity in the Whips Office.
  • Elsewhere, there is a mass of rumour and speculation, which this blog will try, not entirely successfully, to avoid getting drawn into.  Buzzfeed has a scorecard of conflicting lobby predictionsWe made some recommendations over a month ago, based on the premise that Johnson’s Cabinet members must, repeat must, be committed to leaving on October 31, if necessary without a deal (which raises the question of whether Amber Rudd is now reconciled to this position).  Johnson said that such is his intention when interviewed by this site.  Needless to say, this site will also be keeping a record of which of our ideas have been followed up – if any.
  • Having cautioned against reshuffle briefings, there are two that looks reasonably solid.  The first is that Johnson will appoint “a Cabinet for modern Britain”.  In crude political terms, this means he is seeking to escape being framed by his opponents as a narrow right-winger – a British Trump fixated on a nativist version of Brexit.  In crude appointment terms, that means more women (Theresa May’s Cabinet has only four full women MP members) and more ethnic minority members.  Names to watch for therefore include: Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Andrea Leadsom, and perhaps Esther McVey, Lucy Frazer, Rishi Sunak and Victoria Atkins.  Either Theresa Villiers or possibly Nicky Morgan could also return, but it is unlikely that both could do so.
  • The second briefing is of a stand-off between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt (which this site can confirm).  The former has reportedly decided to demote Hunt, in effect, by offering him Defence, which the latter is resisting.  For what it’s worth, our take is that the new leader would be wrong to seek to move Hunt down a rung because, if the Foreign Secretary is prepared ultimately to back leaving on October 31, Johnson will need all the senior support for this position he can get.  And after all, Hunt has just nabbed a third of the membership vote in the leadership election.  And our view is also that Hunt would be wrong to refuse Defence: it is a very senior post, though not a great office of state, and many MPs, not to mention Party members, would take a poor view of an Admiral’s son being unwilling to take responsibility for our servicemen and women.  Especially after the defence spending aspirations that he expressed during the leadership contest.
  • Finally at this stage, moving Hunt into Defence would mean moving the recently-appointed Penny Mordaunt out of it.  Such a plan would be consistent, given Johnson’s stress on promoting women, with a move up for Mordaunt into a great office of state.  But she was a Hunt supporter during the leadership election, and she and Johnson reportedly don’t get on.  That is an ominous storm-cloud.

347 comments for: Johnson’s reshuffle. Live Blog. Seven of his leadership rivals get jobs. Rees-Mogg in as Leader of the House.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.