Published:

19.00

  • Craig Whittaker returns to the Whips Office, in which he occupied the fourth most senior post during 2019, during the May premiership.
  • Heather Wheeler returns to the Whips Office as an Assistant Whip, having run a competitive campaign for the chairmanship of the 1922 Committee Executive earlier in the summer.
  • …as does Gareth Johnson
  • Andrea Jenkyns, ouster of Ed Balls from Morley & Outwood in 2015, also becomes an Assistant Whip…
  • …As does Steve Double
  • Burghart and Harrison, who have been promoted as previously reported, are replaced as Johnson’s PPS’s by Griffith and Sarah Dines.  Both are members of the 2019 intake – and this is a bit of a Little and Large team.  Griffith is an able Tory businessman, well-connected to the Prime Minister and a contributor to his leadership campaign, who contributes frequently to this site.  Dines is a longstanding Party member who fought Belfast East in 1997 – and was selected finally for a winnable seat over 20 years later after a career at the Bar.  If Griffith is an insider, Dines is more of an outsider; he has a southern seat, Arundel & South Downs; she has a midlands one, Derbyshire Dales.
    15.30
  • This looks like a return for Freeman to the same role than he occupied under the Coalition – and on which he’s been advancing a series of ideas on this site during recent months.
  • John Glen stays as Economic Secretary, but moves up in rank to become a Minister of State.
  • Marcus Jones replaces Mike Freer as Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household in the Whips Office – effectively the number three there…
  • …And James Morris moves up from within the office to replace Jones in the number four post: Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household.

 

14.30

It’s time for movements from the Whips Office into government.

Unless a Whip has messed up almost beyond imagination, he or she gets their chance in government. As does the most high-ranking of the PPS’s other than the Prime Minister’s: the Chancellor’s.

  • Maria Caulfield [pictured] goes from the Whips Office to Health.
  • Tom Pursglove moves from it to a joint role at the Home Office and Justice.
  • David Rutley goes from it to Work & Pensions.
  • And the Chancellor’s PPS, James Cartlidge, goes jointly to the Whips Office and to Justice.
  • David Duguid leaves his post at the Scottish Office and the Whips’ Office.

 

9.00 Friday September 17

The reshuffle is nearing its end with the Under-Secretary appointments beginning late yesterday.

Ambitious backbench and PPS members of the 2015 and even 2010 intakes see these announcements as their last chance.  And the corresponding members of the 2017 and 2019 ones are yearning for a breakthrough.

At any rate, we have –

  • Jo Churchill moves from Health to Environment,
  • Vicky Ford from Education to the Foreign Office.
  • Chris Philp from the Home Office to DCMS.
  • Mike Freer comes out of the Whips’ Office and goes to Trade.
  • Alex Burghart [pictured] moves from being a PPS to the Prime Minister to Education…
  • …And Trudy Harrison likewise to Transport.
  • Will Quince goes from Work & Pensions to Education.
  • And Rachel Maclean from Transport to the Home Office.

The Downing Street PPS moves out is partly balanced by Nigel Adams’ Ministerial appointment at the Cabinet Office.  Part of his brief will be relations with the Parliamentary Party.

 

20.00

Paul Goodman reporting

The Prime Minister paused the reshuffle together for his meeting with the Deputy Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.  It will roll on into a third day.  Here’s a summary of what we know at the end of the second.

  • Gove’s Housing Department is The Place To Be.  He has scooped up our former columnist Neil O’Brien, who was co-chair of the newish Party Policy Board, and who will become an Under-Secretary in the department. As Henry Hill reported earlier, Badenoch will also be based there, with a brief to help deliver localism and levelling up.
  • Conor Burns, raised as a Catholic boy in Belfast and touted as a possible Northern Ireland Secretary, goes to the department as a Minister of State.
  • Robin Walker moves from that department to Education.
  • Gillian Keegan moves from Education to become a Minister of State at Health.
  • Alex Chalk is gazetted as Solicitor-General.
  • Michael Ellis is Paymaster General.
  • Lucy Frazer has since 2019 been an Under-Secretary at Justice, then Solicitor General, then back to Justice as a Minister of State, then Solictor General again (as part of the complex series of substitutions while Suella Braverman was on maternity leave), then went back to Justice again on September 10…and is today appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
  • Victoria Atkins goes to Justice as a Minister of State.
  • Chloe Smith moves from the Cabinet Office to Work & Pensions.
  • Lee Rowley leaves CCHQ to become a BEIS Minister and a whip.
  • Maggie Throup leaves the Whips’ Office and goes to Health.
  • Helen Whateley leaves Health and becomes Exchequer Secretary.
  • Amanda Solloway goes from BEIS to the Whips’ Office.
  • The following are out of government, along with Gibb and Whittingdale: Jesse Norman from the Treasury, Caroline Dinenage from DCMS, Luke Hall from HCLG, Justin Tomlinson MP from Work and Pensions, Graham Stuart from Trade, James Duddridge from the Foreign Office, and Matt Warman from DCMS. This cull is mostly of middle-aged white male Ministers.

12.00

All is silent on the appointments front, but there have been a couple of departures:

  • John Whittingdale is out as Media Minister

This only a day after stepping in to give a speech to the Royal Television Society about the Government’s plans to demand more British programming from the big broadcasters.

  • Nick Gibb is out as Schools Minister

Bad news for the Department for Education as they lose the veteran Schools Minister. Gibb has provided an element of continuity to the DfE since first being appointed in 2015, and played a leading role in driving policies such as phonics.

According to the Guardian, Downing Street sources say Johnson “is keen to refresh the government with MPs who have arrived in the House of Commons more recently.” Both men thus seem to have suffered the fate that we noted Greg Hands avoided.

10.00 Thursday September 16

Henry Hill reporting

Good morning. The tail end of the reshuffle is still underway, so we’ll be updating this post as the day goes on with the latest announcements from Downing Street. Here’s what we have so far:

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg remains in post as Leader of the House
  • Suella Braverman remains as Attorney General
  • Greg Hands becomes Minister of State at BEIS

As a white man who first entered Parliament in 2005, one might have thought Greg Hands would be an easy candidate to move aside to make space for a fresh face. That he remains in government is testament to how highly-rated he is.

  • Kemi Badenoch becomes Minister of State at both MHCLG and the FCDO

On the face of it, this looks like quite a bizarre combination of departments. The explanation is that Truss is holding on to the Equalities brief, and as Badenoch is going to continue as minister for equalities, she needs to follow the shift in department. It doesn’t sound as if she’ll have any actual Foreign Office responsibilities.

  • Penny Mordaunt becomes Minister of State at the Department for International Trade

It’s probably worth noting here that Mordaunt placed third in the ‘Next Tory Leader’ survey we ran in August. It therefore makes sense that the Prime Minister wouldn’t want to set her at liberty on the back benches, and instead will try to keep her busy at DIT.

  • Michael Ellis replaces her as Paymaster General at the Cabinet Office
  • Nigel Adams becomes Minister without Portfolio at the Cabinet Office

We hear suggestions that his role will be to boost connections with the back-benches and help improve the political operation.

19.30

As ever, there were things we didn’t see coming in this reshuffle (such as Nadine Dorries’ promotion), and things that we thought might come (such as Nadhim Zahawi’s move to education.)  No punter wins every bet that he places.

But the final Cabinet appointment of the evening is one that we did get right.  Trawling our way through women, ethnic minorities, and other interests that Johnson would take into account in his shuffle, we named a relatively new one: Red Wallers.

“Cabinet promotion from the 2019 intake would be drastic, and Johnson is more likely to turn to the trailblazers of 2017,” we said. “…The name most frequently raised is that of Simon Clarke, the former Business Minister”.

Now on the strictest count, Clarke isn’t a Red Waller at all, since his Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland seat has been held within living memory by the Conservatives (part of it, anyway).

But nor, on such terms would be, say, Darlington, Birmingham Northfield and Bolton North East. So let it drift.  At any rate, Clarke won good opinions when a Business Minister, resigned for personal reasons, and this victor of 2017 will now sit round the Cabinet table.

We were confident enough that Clarke would make the Cabinet cut as to commission his picture on one of the cards above – the one furthest right as the viewer looks at the picture.

Mind you, we thought Kemi Badenoch would gain at least a right-to-attend post.  She’s on the card furthest to the left.  None has been announced.

P.S: Like Kit Malthouse below, Michelle Donelan, the Education Minister, will also have the right to attend.

 

19.00

Still waiting for a Chief Secretary to the Treasury but, in the meantime, it’s worth noting that Kit Malthouse, who had leadership aspirations himself in 2019, and who was also a Deputy Mayor under Johnson in London, will attend Cabinet.

17.30

  • Zahawi is Education Secretary.  We thought that the post would go to state school-educated Dowden.  Zahawi wasn’t educated in the UK system at all until he was seven.

This is a promotion for a Minister who has delivered in spades, overseeing the roll-out of the Covid vaccine programme.  Zahawi backed Raab in the leadership election campaign, but Johnson hasn’t held this against him – recognising that Zahawi, who has served in the department before, can make Covid catch-up, educational opportunity and the exam system work if anyone can.

  • Ben Wallace stays at Defence.
  • Steve Barclay moves to the Cabinet Office.
  • Mark Spencer stays on as Chief Whip.
  • And Anne-Marie Trevelyan is back in Cabinet, taking on Truss’s old post at Trade.  Johnson promised he would restore her to Cabinet when her DfID job went, and has been as good as his word.

 

17.00

It is impossible to imagine urbane David Cameron, the stockbroker’s son, or restrained Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, taking a Cabinet appointment punt on Nadine Dorries.

But Johnson had the imagination and curiousity to see a potential Minister in this unconventional politician – who has long been one of his most fervent supporters and to whom he has been steadfastly loyal.

This appointment will be either a dazzling success or a crashing disaster, and we feel strongly that the odds are on the former.  Dorries is a shrewdie, as well as an outspoken woman of the right – and a natural communicator in a government that is short of them.

As a successful author, she will have a bit of an insight into at least part of her brief.  And if culture wars we must have – because we’re all caught up in them, like then or not – then Dorries will have an ear for what aspects of them cut through to voters.

She is a dash of colour in a monochrome Government and far more savvy than that description might suggest.  We can’t wait for her to get stuck in.

16.30

Ben Elliot is often described, truthfully enough, as the real Conservative Chairman.  So why slot the talented Dowden in at CCHQ when he could be heading his own department?

The answer will have little to do with money (Elliot takes care of that) and everything to do with campaigning.  For the lesson of all three recent by-elections is that the Party doesn’t have enough boots on the ground.  Dowden will have been brought in to reorganise its efforts and ensure that, come the next election, the Tories aren’t outrun on the ground by Labour – as they were in 2010 and 2017 (see Mark Wallace’s accounts here and here.

We suspected that Dowden was a shoo-in for Education.  Will Zahawi go there instead.  The Culture appointment is so enthralling as to deserve a blog of its own, coming up shortly at 17.00 or so.

16.00

The remaining pieces are falling into place.

  • Liz Truss becomes Foreign Secretary.  The ConHome Cabinet League Table-topping Trade Secretary moves over to the Foreign Office, where she must seek to help shore up the UK’s relationship with America, grip our dealings with China and Russia, deal as much with the EU as David Frost will let her, make Global Britain meaningful,  and restore the pride of a damaged institution.

By promoting Truss to a great office of state, Johnson has also protected his position.  Until today, he had only one likely successor as Prime Minister from within the Cabinet: Sunak.

Now he has two.  He will have to watch the liberal-minded, ambitious, free marketing,  small state-supporting Foreign Secretary, but will have made this appointment with his eyes open.

Patel stays at the Home Office, despite some aggressive briefing against her recently, and the Home Office’s apparent inability to stop small boasts from crossing the English channel.  Two of the four holders of those great offices are now women.

  • And Sebastian Payne takes a punt on Michael Gove moving to housing (with Steve Barclay, presumably, replacing the latter in the Cabinet Office.  As Seb suggests, Gove would then have a brief covering levelling-up, regional policy, devolution, localism, housing, planning…pretty much everything except his current role overseeing the Governments’ approach to Scotland.  Which he might hang onto in any case.

The move is now confirme. So it is once again be a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride for Gove.  He has served at Education, Justice, Defra, the Cabinet Office and now Housing…but still hadn’t held one of those elusive great offices of state.

Dowden might well go to Education, a move that ConHome foresaw last week.  Nadhim Zahawi and Nadine Dorries are also in Downing Street.  The first has done a fine job presiding over the vaccine push.  The second is one of Johnson’s most committed loyalists.

Might that be Zahawi to CCHQ – Milling has confirmed that she has left the Government – and Dorries to DCMS?  We will find out soon enough.

 

 

15.30

So, then: a reshuffle crisis is averted.  Raab leaves the Foreign Office.  But becomes Deputy Prime Minister as he moves to the Justice Department.

It’s certainly a consolation prize; may not mean much at all (though we will see) – and we will duly find out whether the consolation prize was his idea or Johnson’s.

Damian Green held the same title when Theresa May was Prime Minister that Raab has borne in this government to date: that of First Secretary of State.

The last Deputy Prime Minister was Nick Clegg – so Raab’s title now matches his.  But it remains to be seen whether Raab will have the same influence on this administration that Clegg did under Cameron’s as a member of the Quad.

15.00

Let’s review where are.

  • Williamson is out.
  • So is Buckland.
  • Plus Jenrick…
  • …(And possibly Milling)…
  • With multiple sources claiming that Johnson and Raab were cooped up together for some time, which suggests that the latter is unhappy with any offer being made to him – perhaps the Justice Department.

The Prime Minister has now reportedly left the Commons, and so the sackings are presumably at an end.  Three would be enough to constitute a substantial shuffle, especially if there is to be change at the Foreign Office, but not enough to provoke accusations of panic.

And so we have vacancies at Education, Justice, Housing, presumbly the Foreign Office…and perhaps at CCHQ.

There’s chatter on Twitter about Gove going to Housing.  State-school educated Dowden will be a candidate for Education.  Will Truss make it to a great office of state?  And was it sensible to sack Buckland if Raab was unwilling to become his successor?

Now for the appointments.

 

14.30

Robert Jenrick was the final member of a Gang of Three whose public support for Johnson, during the last Conservative leadership election, was a sign that ambitious younger MPs knew a winner when they saw one.

The other two were Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden.  The former is Chancellor of the Exchquer, and seems to be staying where he is.  The latter is Culture Secretary, and it would be surprising were the able Dowden not promoted in this shuffle.

Jenrick’s main responsibility at Housing, Communities and Local Government was planning reform.  But our former columnist, Neil O’Brien, sunk the algorithm central to the Government’s plans.  They have never recovered.

So the Prime Minister was always likely to move Jenrick to give his housing plans a fresh start.  It was less sure that the latter would actually leave the Government, especially since he has fronted for it so often on the political shows.

But Jenrick was dealt a fatal blow, at least as far as our Cabinet League Table was concerned, by the Richard Desmond lobbying controversy.  He fell to near its bottom and has never recovered.

Dismiss the Table’s significance if you will – but the panel whose votes decide it has been unforgiving, and its verdicts help to shape impressions at Westminster.

Jenrick was also plagued by controversy about leaving his London home during lockdown, and over various planning decisions.  He took an intelligent interest in ending rough sleeping, and we hope that his successor does too.

 

14.00

Gavin Williamson’s tweet above reads as though he has left the Government entirely.  And his next one more or less confirms it: “I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government.”

That’s the end of claims that he would be appointed Chief Whip again, or replace Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the House.  It isn’t known whether Williamson was offered another portfolio that he turned down, but this seems unlikely.

Williamson’s exit puts to an end the suggestion that Johnson wouldn’t dismiss him because the former Education Secretary “knows where all the bodies are buried”.  Fairly or unfairly, his term in office will be remembered for last year’s exam fiasco.

Buckland has also been dismissed as Justice Secretary, which makes room for Dominic Raab to replace him (if rumour to that effect is correct).

He voted for the Prime Minister in the last leadership election, is a stalwart of the Tory Left in Parliament, and has been approaching judicial reform in a gradualist way, through set-piece heavyweight speeches of real substance (see here and here).

One Downing Street critic of the judges once told ConHome that “Buckers’ heart isn’t really with us”.  But Johnson’s motive for dimissing him is likely to be a simple one, which reflects no discredit on the Lord Chancellor: he wants to make room for someone else.

 

13.30

Those who meet the Prime Minister in his Commons office (away from the cameras) are dismissed, those who meet him at Downing Street (in front of them – as they walk up it) are promoted.

That’s the usual rule.

Guido Fawkes and others are reporting that Raab is at the Commons, and that Jenrick and Milling have been in Johnson’s Commons office.

Here is a summary of rumours about present Cabinet Ministers to date:

  • Raab – out, or to Justice.
  • Sunak – no change.
  • Patel – no change, or to Party Chairman.
  • Gove – no change, or to Home Office or Foreign Office.
  • Truss – To Foreign Office, or Education.
  • Wallace – no change or to Foreign Office.
  • Kwarteng – no change.
  • Javid – no change
  • Buckland – out, or no change.
  • Coffey – out, or no change.
  • Jenrick – out, or no change.
  • Dowden – Education, or no change.
  • Barclay – no change, or Cabinet Office.
  • Milling – out, or no change.
  • Sharma – no change.
  • Shapps – no change.
  • Frost – no change.
  • Williamson – Northern Ireland or Leader of the House or Chief Whip.
  • Eustice – out, or no change.
  • Braverman – no change
  • Rees-Mogg – no change, or Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
  • Jack – no change.
  • Hart – out, or no change.
  • Lewis – out, or no change.
  • Sharma – no change.
  • Baroness Evans – out, or no change.

It’s worth remembering that if a Prime Minister sacks fewer than three people, the reshuffle is “a damp squib”…

…But that if he fires more than about five, the shuffle is “panicky” and a “night of the long knives”.

13.00

Here’s a link to our last Cabinet League Table – which gave ConservativeHome’s panel of Party members’ latest take.

That’s the poll that saw –

  • Raab fall from third from top with 73 per cent….by 21 places… to fourth from bottom with 6 per cent – one of the biggest falls ever in our table.
  • Wallace moves up from ninth, on 51 per cent, to fourth, on 64 per cent.
  • Johnson drift up from fourth from bottom on three per cent to seventh from bottom on 13 per cent.
  • And Patel fall to eighth from bottom on 18 per cent, having been sixth from top on 64 per cent as recently as May.

12.30

ConHome raised ten questions about the shuffle recently.  Rather than repeat the speculation elsewhere about who will win and who will lose, here is the whole piece entire to set the scene for this afternoon’s changes.

  • What does the Prime Minister do about economic policy?  His instinct is for government to spend a lot; Rishi Sunak’s is for it to spend less.  Boris Johnson would clearly be reckless to lose his second Chancellor in less than two years, and we don’t believe that he will try to move him. Furthermore, it isn’t at all clear who would play Anthony Barber to the Prime Minister’s Edward Heath.  But Sunak’s public pitch for loyalty over social care yesterday only confirmed the tensions between him and the Prime Minister. Johnson will be brooding over the future of the man who is favourite eventually to replace him.
  • Who runs Downing Street?  The Prime Minister frets about the unresponsiveness of the official machine.  He has lost Dominic Cummings.  He is installing a Delivery Unit.  He is beefing up his own political operation.  Does he take the radical option of creating a Prime Minister’s department?  Or the established one of relying on the Cabinet Office?  Either way, who does he put in charge?  Does he keep Michael Gove?  Move in Dominic Raab.  Or else send for Oliver Dowden – just as David Cameron’s former Deputy Chief of Staff is enjoying his own place in the sun in his own department (and perhaps eyeing Education)?
  • What about the Home Office and the Foreign Office?  Some in Number Ten share our panel’s lack of confidence in Priti Patel; Raab has been in place for almost two years.  Gove has been punted for both posts but, for all his talents, there is only one of him.  And if he moves out of the Cabinet Office, who will take the lead on Scotland?  Our bet for Foreign Secretary were the shuffle to come late would be Alok Sharma, now that he has globetrotting experience wearing his COP26 hat.  Will Johnson really promote the Cabinet League Table-topping Liz Truss, who he is bound to see as a potential rival?
  • Who does Johnson bring back and at what level?  John Whittingdale was brought back to support Dowden.  James Brokenshire was returned to help Patel.  When his illness worsened, another former Cabinet member, Damian Hinds, replaced him.  The message is: keep your nose clean, and there’s a way back.  But is the Prime Minister prepared to do the same at Cabinet level – summoning Liam Fox or Jeremy Hunt or Iain Duncan Smith or Geoffrey Cox or Robert Halfon or other members of the Alternative Cabinet?  For given the scale of the foreign and domestic policy challenges, there’s a lack of experience at the top.
  • Which women…?  The optics will be an inevitable feature of the shuffle, whenever it comes.  Johnson will want to increase the number of women at the top table.  Anne-Marie Trevelyan must be top of the list to return, but she only recently started her job as Energy Minister.  The Prime Minister will be keeping a watchful eye on the ambitious Penny Mordaunt.  Kemi Badenoch must be on any list for promotion, but is she ready to run a department?  Look out for Lucy Frazer, a potential future Justice Secretary; Chloe Smith if her health allows and, if media deployment is any guide, Helen Whateley. Will Tracey Crouch return?
  • …Ethnic minority members?… Nadhim Zahawi is being punted for co-Party Chairman, but he could also slot in at Education, where he has served as a junior Minister, or perhaps at Culture.  James Cleverly has been out of the domestic media eye at the Foreign Office and must be due to go back in it again.  Kwasi Kwarteng has only recently been appointed and will presumably stay where he is.  Lower down the ranks, Claire Courtino will go up sooner rather than later; then there is Ranil Jayawardena and, down in the Whips’ Office, Alan Mak.
  • …And Red Wallers…?  If promoting ethnic minority members is playing identity politics, so would be favouring white working class people.  MPs for the new Conservative northern and midlands seats aren’t necessarily working class – nor Red Wallers, strictly speaking – but they are yet another group that Johnson must consider.  Cabinet promotion from the 2019 intake would be drastic, and Johnson is more likely to turn to the trailblazers of 2017.  That might mean, say, Lee Rowley, the Tory Deputy Chairman, but the name most frequently raised is that of Simon Clarke, the former Business Minister.
  • P.S: what about appointment on merit?… Beware, Prime Minister, of the backlash from your average Conservative MP: male, white, and (in his view) overlooked because of political correctness.  “With one exception, those promoted in our intake have been women, ethnic minority members, or gay,” one 2019er complained to ConHome.  What about the Kit Malthouses and Edward Argars?  (The latter has had much to do as a Health Minister during the pandemic.)  Is there a quota on Old Etonians that keeps out Jesse Norman?  What about able backbenchers, such as Richard Fuller?
  • …And communicators?  The Government is short at the top of people who can get on the front foot on TV, if that’s quite the right way of putting it.  There’s Sunak, Gove, the Prime Minister himself, a more relaxed Grant Shapps, and Kwarteng.  And that’s about it.  Which is why Cleverly is due a return, and perhaps Brandon Lewis too.  He would fit in at Housing were Robert Jenrick to be moved, but on balance this is unlikely.  Jacob Rees-Mogg has been confined to the Commons as Leader of the House, and were he appointed Chief Secretary, he would be restricted to the Treasury.
  • What’s the least bad timing?  The infallible rule of reshuffles is that the anger of those sacked outweighs the gratitude of those promoted.  A shuffle this week would refresh the Cabinet before the conference season.  But one later would ease moving Raab, Ben Wallace or both: besides, it isn’t yet clear that Covid has run its course.  We assume when the shuffle comes Gavin Williamson will be moved, and at least two Cabinet members fired.  More, and Johnson will risk a “night of the long knives”.  Fewer, and what’s the point?  P.S: the promotion of the Johnsons’ old mucker Zac Goldsmith is a possibility.

12.00

Paul Goodman reporting

Whitehall was ready for the reshuffle to take place last Thursday.  Then it didn’t happen: Boris Johnson was consumed by his health and social care plan.  Now it is finally going ahead.

The Prime Minister hasn’t held a proper shuffle since February 2020 – though he has since lost a Health Secretary (Matt Hancock), gained a Cabinet Office Minister (David Frost) and lost an International Development Secretary (Anne-Marie Trevelyan, whose post was abolished when her department merged with the Foreign Office.

Over eighteen months have passed, the Conservative Party Conference is due next month, and the Cabinet can’t be said to be a strong one (here is an alternative one at least as strong).  So a reshuffle is timely.

At one point, Johnson wanted to wait until Covid was in the rear view mirror and, though that may not quite be so, the worst is hopefully fading away.  At any rate, will-he-won’t-he reshuffle speculation has been going on for the best part of a week – draining Ministers of energy, paralysing Whitehall, inflating gossip and halting forward impetus.

Even so skilled an escapologist as the Prime Minister has been left with little choice, given this institutional inertia, but to put up or shut up.  Put up he duly has – and we will shortly know the details.

Johnson is expected to begin by sacking Ministers this afternoon, perhaps in his Commons office far from prying cameras, and to have the new Cabinet in place by the end of today.  That will leave tomorrow and perhaps Friday morning to finalise the junior posts before Westminster breaks for the weekend.

That’s the poll that saw –

  • Raab fall from third from top with 73 per cent….by 21 places… to fourth from bottom with 6 per cent – one of the biggest falls ever in our table.
  • Wallace moves up from ninth, on 51 per cent, to fourth, on 64 per cent.
  • Johnson drift up from fourth from bottom on three per cent to seventh from bottom on 13 per cent.
  • And Patel fall to eighth from bottom on 18 per cent, having been sixth from top on 64 per cent as recently as May.