It looks as if the reshuffle has petered out, so we’re going to wrap up this live blog. To conclude, here is the full list of the membership of the new Johnson Cabinet (image by Political Intelligence):
- Prime Minister – Boris Johnson
- Chancellor – Rishi Sunak
- Home Secretary – Priti Patel
- Foreign Secretary – Dominic Raab
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – Michael Gove
- Health Secretary – Matt Hancock
- Defence Secretary – Ben Wallace
- International Trade Secretary – Liz Truss
- Environment Secretary – George Eustice
- Education Secretary – Gavin Williamson
- Culture Secretary – Oliver Dowden
- Business Secretary – Alok Sharma
- MHCLG Secretary – Robert Jenrick
- Work & Pensions Secretary – Thérèse Coffey
- Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor – Robert Buckland
- International Development Secretary – Anne-Marie Trevelyan
- Transport Secretary – Grant Shapps
- Welsh Secretary – Simon Hart
- Scottish Secretary – Alister Jack
- Northern Irish Secretary – Brandon Lewis
- Attorney General – Suella Braverman
- Chief Secretary to the Treasury – Stephen Barclay
- Party Chairman – Amanda Milling
- Leader of the House of Commons – Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Chief Whip – Mark Spencer
- Leader of the House of Lords – Baroness Evans
- Lord Callanan is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
- Gillian Keegan has been appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Education.
No more announcements – the Guardian suggests the reshuffle is “running out of steam” – but an interesting observation on the new Cabinet courtesy of the Institute for Government:
“…much of the cabinet already has experience of sitting around the table. Only three full members – Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Amanda Milling and George Eustice – and Suella Braverman, the new attorney general who attends cabinet, have not been around the table before.”
This is a useful counterpoint to the suggestion that the Prime Minister is rewarding loyalty at the expense of experience – and coming from the IfG, it is presented in a very handsome graphic! More on their blog.
After a few hours of radio silence there has been a bumper crop of announcements. These are all continuity posts, including Nick Gibb continuing his extraordinary stint as Schools Minister.
But whilst his staying put will be no surprise, some of the other names might be – Jesse Norman, for example, remains where is is despite having been elevated to the Privy Council on Wednesday.
- Rt Hon Jesse Norman remains as Financial Secretary to the Treasury
- Lucy Frazer QC remains as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Justice
- Rt Hon Nick Gibb remains as a Minister of State in the Department for Education
- Justin Tomlinson remains as a Minister of State in the Department for Work and Pensions
- John Glen remains as Economic Secretary to the Treasury
- Nadhim Zahawi remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- David TC Davies remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Wales Office and as an Assistant Government Whip
- Johnny Mercer remains as a joint Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office and in the Ministry of Defence.
- James Heappey remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defence
- Rebecca Pow remains a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Jo Churchill remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Health and Social Care
- Nadine Dorries remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Health and Social Care
- Kevin Foster remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office
- Luke Hall remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
- Graham Stuart remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for International Trade
- Mims Davies remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions
- Guy Opperman remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions
- Will Quince remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions
- Rt Hon Earl Howe CBE remains as a Minister of State (Deputy Leader of the House of Lords)
- Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon remains as a joint Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and in the Department for International Development
- Baroness Goldie DL remains as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence
- Baroness Barran MBE remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- Lord Gardiner of Kimble remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Baroness Vere of Norbiton remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport
- Baroness Stedman-Scott OBE remains as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions
Another dimension to the reshuffle, specifically the dismissal of Sajid Javid over his refusal to allow Downing Street to annex his advisers, is to what extent the Prime Minister’s attitude reflects strength versus hinting at a brittle fragility which may become more significant once the Government inevitably leaves its current imperial honeymoon.
Making the former case, Stephen Bush of the New Statesman argues that Boris Johnson is quite possibly the most powerful Prime Minister in history, benefiting from a ‘unipolar moment’ which has seen Labour reduced to impotence whilst simultaneously forcing many of Johnson’s opponents out of the Conservative Party and handing him a huge Commons majority.
In this view, the abolition of the ‘Imperial Treasury’ is a consolidation of that strength, burying the Blair-Brown diarchy and Cameron-Osborne alliance in favour of an operation effectively run directly from Downing Street.
The alternative view, put out by Johnson’s critics, spins this quite differently. In this reading, Johnson is actually mimicking the pattern best set out by Hannah Arendt in her seminal book, The Origins of Totalitarianism:
“Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
Suffice to say there is more than a whiff of #FBPE hysteria about comparisons between the current Government and a dictatorship. But there is a grain of truth in the idea that prioritising loyalty to the extent that Johnson did yesterday is a sign of fragility. A Prime Minister at the height of his powers, the argument runs, ought to feel secure enough to bring “first-rate talents” to the table, even if they aren’t long-standing loyalists.
A third option is that Johnson is gathering his loyalists to him because he intends to try and drive through a programme which will deeply divide the Conservative Party. With the Government being coy about the future of its fiscal rules, and the recent kite-flying over swingeing tax increases, this probably can’t be ruled out.
There has been a slowdown in announcements, leaving commentators to pick through the aftermath of yesterday’s events. One thing the Prime Minister is being criticised for is the increased proportion of privately-educated ministers in his new Cabinet. According to the Independent, “nearly two-thirds of his top team having attended a fee-paying school.”
This follows criticisms that it also sports fewer female and ethnic minority members, also in each case the total has only fallen by one, despite Johnson’s promise to ‘set the foundations‘ for a gender-balanced Cabinet.
- Amanda Solloway MP, who regained her seat at the general election, is now a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
- Victoria Prentis has been appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Lord Agnew, who departs the DfE after having apparently developed a ‘divisive’ reputation, becomes a joint Minister of State in the Cabinet Office and in Her Majesty’s Treasury.
Henry Hill reporting:
- Rachel Maclean has been appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport.
- Nigel Huddleston is now a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and an Assistant Government Whip.
- Lord True – who led the Government’s attempt to filibuster the anti-no deal legislation in the last Parliament – becomes a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office.
- Baroness Berridge becomes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Education and a Baroness in Waiting.
Friday February 14
Paul Goodman reporting:
- Jake Berry has turned down a move to the Foreign Office, which would apparently have involved the loss of his present right to attend Cabinet – see above, where he refers to the family commitments that arise from having three young children under three. He is one of the former backbench band of Johnson True Believers.
- Paul Scully moves to become an Under-Secretary of State for Business; he keeps responsibility for London as this spring’s Mayoral election approaches.
- James Duddridge is back in government, at the same level, at the Foreign Office and International Development. He was at the time of the EU referendum the sole pro-Leave Minister in the former department.
– – –
Appointments coming thick and fast now.
- Stuart Andrew becomes Deputy Chief Whip.
- Marcus Jones is back in government as a senior whip.
- Brexiteering Simon Clarke promoted to be Minister of State at HCLG.
- Michelle Donelan up a rank to Minister of State at Education.
- Caroline Dinenage not up but sideways to DCMS (as a Minister of State).
- The able and combative Greg Hands is back in government in his old department at Trade.
- Chris Philp from Justice to the Home Office as an Under-Secretary.
- Kemi Badenoch from Education to the Treasury at the same level.
- Kelly Tolhurst from Business to Transport at the same level.
- Wendy Morton from Justice to the Foreign Office & Dfid.
- Amanda Milling, the new Party Chairman, is a long-time Johnson backer and a very senior Whip indeed, until today (Deputy). That’s an irresistable combination for promotion under this dispensation. Downing Street now has one Co-Party Chairman who will work seamlessly with the other: Ben Elliott. Her presence also helps it to meet its commitment, made yesterday, of keeping the number of women who sit around the Cabinet table at least constant.
- Zac Goldsmith to be a Minister covering three departments in the Lords: Foreign Office, DfID and Defra.
- Nigel Adams to cover the first two of those Departments from the Commons (with Cleverly).
- ConHome is told that while Gove won’t be running an enlarged Prime Minister’s Office, he will, with Dowden’s departure from the Cabinet Office, be taking on the latter’s responsibilities. Within that office, Chloe Smith will continue to have responsibilities for the constitution – the Daily Telegraph recently reported that she is now seen within government as an expert on it – but Gove will also hold them at his higher level. We recommended that he do so in the wake of December’s election: “the obvious move is to make him Secretary of State for the Constitution, leading the media fightback against the SNP, forming policy for the UK as a whole and perhaps continuing working out of the Cabinet Office.”
- Like Mordaunt, Brokenshire gets another bite at the Ministerial cherry, returning to the Home Office.
- Quin is another Whips Office graduate and well suited in due course to a Trade or Treasury role. Whateley is poised to grapple with social care, and looks earmarked for Cabinet in the future. Walker is spoken of as an unflappable Minister with a solid grasp of his brief.
There is a mass of less senior appointments coming in.
- James Cleverly is off to the Foreign Office as a Minister of State with a characteristically stylish tweet. It doesn’t looks as though he will continue to attend Cabinet. He will also be a DfID Minister – but that’s a continuation of present practice, not part of a radical restructuring.
- Javid has emerged to make a statement about his departure. “I don’t believe any self-respecting Minister would accept such conditions”
- Penny Mordaunt is back but not at full Cabinet level: she becomes Paymaster General.
- Amanda Milling, former Deputy Chief Whip, is to be Minister without Portfolio and a Cabinet member.
- Mark Spencer remains Chief Whip.
- Chris Pincher, a former Deputy Chief Whip, to Housing (yet another change in the post).
- Andrew Stephenson, another former senior Whip, to Transport. Never mind who the Prime Minister is: whips flourish like green bay trees.
- And please note: Ben Wallace endures at Defence.
- Tory backbenchers and Johnny Mercer have a view on legacy issues and veterans. Sinn Fein and Irish nationalists another. The DUP has its own take. And now we have Ireland’s election result, plus the rumpus over Julian Smith’s sacking.
- So no pressure for the genial Lewis – who defies predictions that he would be sacked today, not promoted. His present use as a go-to man for media interviews was always likely be a better indicator of his future than his past clash with Johnson over anti-Muslim hatred.
- Steve Barclay slots into the vacant Chief Secretary post. (At one stage, he was a pro-Leave Minister working at the Treasury Minister under Philip Hammond; and before that, the only pro-Brexit MP in the Whip’s Office. So he’s up for a challenge.
- And Jacob-Rees Mogg survives that Grenfell quote to stay on as Leader of the House.
- Watch out, Lady Hale – and your like. Braverman is coming for you. Here she is on ConHome less than a month ago: “Our Parliament must retrieve power ceded to another place – the courts. For too long, the Diceyan notion of parliamentary supremacy has come under threat.” Johnson/Cummings is limbering up for major constitutional change: a rebalancing of the relationship between Parliament and the Courts, presumably after the Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission has reported.
- The clear-out of SpAds continues. Peter Cardwell, Robert Buckland’s media SpAd, who formerly did the same job for James Brokenshire, is going. (And unlike the Chancellor, the Justice Secretary is staying.)
- And George Eustice goes to Defra. It’s yet another reshuffle story success for the Times but, more importantly, an important signal in the policy balance between environmentalists and farmers. A source tells ConHome: “Zac would have been a full-on green appointment. The Chief Whip a full-on NFU appointment. Eustice strikes a balance.” Our take is that the moderate Eustice, a farmer, a one-time pro-EEA Leaver and yet another Minister who quit over Brexit, signals a tilt towards protection in the overall protection-free trade policy balance.
- Anne-Marie Trevelyan – Defence Minister, one-time resigner over Brexit and former Vote Leaver – becomes International Development Secretary (again as tweeted yesterday by the Times).
- Suella Braverman is in Downing Street.
- Liz Truss survives at Trade, as foreshadowed by the Prime Minister name-checking her frequently during a speech last week, and Matt Hancock stays at Health.
- And in the least surprising promotion of the shuffle, Oliver Dowden joins the other two legs of a pro-Johnson stool (Sunak and Robert Jenrick) as a full member of the Cabinet, becoming Culture Secretary.
- As The Times tweeted yesterday evening, Alok Sharma is appointed Business Secretary. This is a big promotion for the former International Development Secretary, who is rated in Downing Street as a purposeful, non self-promoting and bright loyalist. To him will now fall the responsibility of charting a course for Government business and science policy post-Brexit.
- The Javid SpAd row seems to have been linked to plans for an expanded Number Ten operation – i.e: a bigger Prime Minister’s department (with Michael Gove at the wheel). Javid will have seen what this meant for his own team, and recalled the rate of his former SpAd Sonia Khan – fired by Cummings last year, in a precursor to today’s events. He was clearly unwilling to live with the nickname “Chino” – Chancellor in Name Only.
- We warned on Monday morning as follows: “There is a question mark over Javid’s future. Relations between some of his Special Advisers and some in Number Ten are poisonous. The Chancellor has already seen one of his SpAds fired (Sonia Khan). The Prime Minister may push to dismiss at least two more – Mats Person and Sam Coates. Which Javid would resist. This one may not end well.” And it hasn’t.
- To say that this development throws the shuffle off course is a statement of the obvious. Rishi Sunak to the Treasury and a new Chief Secretary to replace him?
- This is a competence-and-loyalty clash in spades. The relationship in question isn’t so much that between Johnson and Javid as between Downing Street, for which read Cummings, and the Chancellor’s team, for which read his SpAds above (and others). The briefing and sniping were mutually poisonous. The Prime Minister has a comfortable majority and no real Opposition from Labour. And his most strident Tory critics left the Commons in December: Hammond, Gauke, Stewart, Rudd. But now there is a new potential leader of the internal opposition: Javid.
- Some of the commentary on Smith’s sacking is over-stressing policy factors (the “legacy issues”) at the expense of personal ones.
- The main lesson of his firing is: this is shaping up to be the Loyalty Shuffle. Smith was seen to be briefing against Johnson and his Brexit policy pre-election. Leadsom is a former leadership rival. Cox was felt to be not fully on board. Ghani was a Hunt supporter last year.
- Competence is important to Number Ten – which is why Sharma, Dowden and Trevelyan are set to be promoted. But it must come with a personal commitment to the Prime Minister.
- And loyalty is not enough on its own. Like Johnson, Villiers is one of the original senior Vote Leavers. But Downing Street sources claim that she “needed to have her hand held” and, while not wanting Ministers to grandstand in the media, say that she took the opposite to an extreme.
- There’s no suggestion that Skidmore isn’t competent, but his move suggests that Downing Street wants a new broom to deal with Universities and science policy, which is of special interest to Dominic Cummings.
- Javid, Raab, Patel and Gove – the most senior four Ministers – are in Downing Street. None will move.
- Cox writes a farewell letter that balances i) making it clear that he hasn’t gone willingly with ii) statements of future loyalty and iii) a tribute to Brexit and Johnson’s leadership of the project.
- Here’s a surprise. Nus Ghani, tipped for promotion as HS2 Minister, has been sacked. She was a Jeremy Hunt supporter in last year’s leadership election.
- Michael Ellis, the Solicitor-General, is taking Commons questions in the absence of an Attorney-General.
- George Freeman, with his puppyish energy and passion for ideas, is out from the Transport Department. “On my bike,” he tweets.
- A former Minister in that department, currently at the Treasury, was sworn into the Privy Council yesterday. Is a promotion coming today for Jesse Norman?
- Leadsom is out – she praises her team, “looks forwards to focusing on my constituents and on my 20+ year campaign to see every baby get the best start in life” – and takes a parting shot at the Prime Minister over gender equality.
- So is McVey – who makes no pretence about going willingly: “I’m very sorry to be relieved of my duties as Housing Minister.”
- And so is Chris Skidmore, the Universities Minister, who departs with aplomb.
- If the number of women in and attending Cabinet is to remain constant, as Number Ten was briefing yesterday, that means three more will later be promoted to it – if Villiers has indeed gone too.
- Cox is out – and questions to the Attorney-General will take place in the Commons Chamber in less than half and hour. Who will be at the despatch box on the Government’s behalf?
- The Prime Minister has left the building – the Palace of Westminster, that is. He’s gone by car to Downing Street. The sackings are over and the promotions are set to begin.
Wednesday February 12
Paul Goodman reporting:
- The stage is set. The Prime Minister has been meeting Ministers to sack them in his Commons office. He will move to Downing Street mid-morning. He will promote and appoint other Ministers from there: these will walk into Number Ten in front of the cameras. Repeat until close of play late this afternoon.
- Julian Smith is sacked.
- Geoffrey Cox, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers are also reported to have gone in to Johnson’s office – which would means that they will all be fired too.
- There is a row about whether Smith kept Downing Street informed of his approach to the treatment of Northern Ireland veterans. Sources there claim he didn’t keep them in the loop; he says that he did. But this dismissal is ultimately about loyalty to Johnson: the Cummings group within Number Ten, and not least the Prime Minister himself, believe that Smith worked and briefed against the Brexit policy pre-election.
- What does Smith’s sacking mean for the veterans policy itself? Some will see it as a signal that Johnson is prepared to row back from the settlement announced in January on the so-called “legacy” issues. This is always a flammable issue – especially given support for veterans in the Commons, the views of Northern Ireland Unionists and the stance of Sinn Fein, now the biggest party in the Dail following Ireland’s election.
– – –
Wednesday February 12
Paul Goodman reporting:
- Oliver Dowden and Alok Sharma will be promoted. The Times is reporting that Sharma will be Business Secretary, replacing Andrea Leadsom.
- There is not expected to be a reduction in the number of female members of Cabinet (whether that includes those who “also attend” isn’t clear).
- Nicky Morgan is known to be retiring. Dowden will apparently replace her.
- Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suella Braverman and Gillian Keegan are in line for promotion. Trevelyan was appointed to Defence as a Minister of State last summer, and now serves as Minister for the Armed Forces. Trevelyan is set to become International Development Secretary according to the Times.
- Keegan is a Defence PPS. Braverman and Trevelyan both resigned on the same day over Brexit in November 2018.
- If Geoffrey Cox departs the Government tomorrow – though not a full member of Cabinet he is entitled to attend it as Attorney General – it may be worth noting that Braverman is a lawyer.
- The Times also says that George Eustice will become Environment Secretary, replacing Theresa Villiers.
- So if as the Times also claims Liz Truss and Therese Coffey see out the shuffle, that also suggests that, with Morgan leaving the Cabinet and Trevelyan entering it, either Villiers and Leadsom stay on elsewhere within it, or else two new women beside Trevelyan are appointed (if there is no reduction in female Cabinet members).
- The most vulnerable male member of Cabinet has been reported to be Ben Wallace. But according to the Times the Defence Secretary will survive, and Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland Secretary, is potentially in the firing line. ConservativeHome put a questionmark against his name a few days ago.
- Stand back from these comings and goings and there is a bigger picture. In this reshuffle, Boris Johnson is aiming for half of the Government’s Under-Secretaries of State to be women. That’s the second-lowest rung of Government. By the summer, at least three in five Parliamentary PPS’s roles will be held by female MPs. That’s the lowest.
- In short, Downing Street is moving to bury claims that a mass of women Cabinet Ministers will be fired tomorrow. And to prove that Johnson is determined to solve “the pipeline problem” – i.e: the claimed lack of suitable women to be promoted to senior Ministerial posts.
- Number Ten says that “the Prime Minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for Government now and in the future. He wants to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years. He will reward those MPs who have worked hard to deliver on this Government’s priorities to level up the whole country and deliver the change people voted for last year.”