In Brief

Top ministers axed in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle

Chancellor Sajid Javid quits following row with the PM and Dominic Cummings

Sajid Javid has resigned as chancellor following a reported row with Boris Johnson during the prime minister’s first cabinet reshuffle since the December election.

The resignation makes Javid the shortest-serving chancellor since Conservative Iain Macleod, who died exactly a month after his appointment in 1970. Rishi Sunak, Javid’s deputy, steps into his former boss’s shoes.

In what has been billed as a Valentine’s Day Massacre, Johnson has shaken up his cabinet while retaining enough female and Brexiteer MPs to avoid both accusations of misogyny and hostility from the Tories’s influential Eurosceptic wing.

Here are some of the big-name changes:

Sajid Javid

In a move that has come as a shock to most in Westminster, Sajid Javid has resigned following a power struggle with Johnson and his top adviser Dominic Cummings.

Whitehall sources suggest that the move was the result of a “major row over Dominic Cummings’ proposed restructuring of special advisers,” says Buzzfeed’s political correspondent Alex Wickham.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted that “Javid was offered to stay on as Chancellor on condition he fired all of his advisers”, but “he refused and turned down (the) job”.

“Sajid Javid resigns, reshuffle now all over the place,” writes The Telegraph’s political editor Gordon Rayner. “Presumably Boris has to go back to the drawing board unless he intended to force Javid out all along.”

ITV’s Robert Peston tweets: “Looks to me as though Sajid Javid quit in protest at being run from Downing St by Cummings. Poodle no more.”

“Cummings/Johnson will attempt to exercise much more control over Treasury by creating new single special adviser unit for No10 and Treasury,” Peston continues, adding: “This is a Whitehall revolution (sort of).” 

Faisal Islam, the BBC’s economics editor, called the move “extraordinary”.

“Extraordinary that the PM asked his own Chancellor to replace his advisers with Number 10 ones, and extraordinary that a Chancellor of the Exchequer,” he writes on Twitter.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak, who had been serving as chief secretary to the Treasury, will take Javid’s job as chancellor.

Sunak has long been touted as a “rising star in the party”, according to The Telegraph.

A Tory source said prior to the reshuffle: “He’s trusted in the Treasury and No. 10 thinks he’s good at his job.”

Julian Smith

The Northern Ireland secretary has lost his job, despite being widely praised during his brief tenure, which saw Smith brokering a deal restoring the power-sharing administration in Stormont. He was in the role for just 204 days.

Smith said on Twitter that it had been “the biggest privilege” to serve the people of Northern Ireland and he was “extremely grateful” to have had the opportunity.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Smith was one of the “finest politicians of our time”.

“There has been some bad blood between Downing Street and Julian Smith partly over assurances in the power sharing agreement - particularly due to crimes committed during the Troubles,” the Financial Times’ Sebastien Payne told the BBC.

But Sky News’s Tamara Cohen tweeted that Smith’s sacking was due to comments last autumn when he told MPs no deal would be “very, very bad for Northern Ireland”.

Brandon Lewis had been tipped to take over the job of Northern Ireland secretary, says the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Esther McVey

The housing minister has gone after rumours she was at risk “despite her ‘blue collar’ Conservative credentials”, says The Telegraph.

In a statement on Facebook, Villiers said: “What the prime minister giveth, the prime minister taketh away: just over six months ago, I was delighted to be invited by the prime minister to return to government after three years on the back benches.

“This morning he told me that I need to make way for someone new.”

She added that she was “sad” to no longer be part of the cabinet, but the prime minister had her “full support”.

Andrea Leadsom

Leadsom, long rumoured to be heading out the door, has been given the sack. The business secretary reacted on Twitter, saying: “It has been a real privilege to serve in Government for the last six years, and in BEIS for six months... I now look forward to focusing on my constituents and on my 20+ year campaign to see every baby get the best start in life.”

Theresa Villiers

Environment Secretary Villiers was also given the heave, for “a lack of dynamism”, according to the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner.

Geoffrey Cox

The attorney general, who attended cabinet, has resigned as the Government’s most senior law officer. Cox - known for his legal advice that scuppered Theresa May’s Brexit deal in March last year - said he had been asked to resign by Johnson.

His replacement is Suella Braverman, former chair of the European Research Group and president of the Cambridge University Conservative Association.

In a statement, Cox said: “I have been truly privileged to have served as attorney general during the recent turbulent political times.”

Staying put

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and home secretary Priti Patel are both confirmed to be remaining in their current jobs.

Michael Gove will stay in post as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with additional responsibilities in the Cabinet Office.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has kept his job as leader of the House of Commons, despite an election campaign gaffe when he said victims of the Grenfell Tower fire had shown a lack of “common sense” in failing to leave the burning building.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had been rumoured to get the chop, but was told this afternoon that she will stay in her post.

Liz Truss will keep her full portfolio of jobs including secretary of state for international trade, president of the Board of Trade and minister for women and equalities.

Matt Hancock holds onto his role as secretary of state for health and social care, which he has held since July 2018.

Natalie Jessica Evans, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, will remain as leader of the House of Lords.

Robert Buckland is to stay on as justice secretary, but his special adviser Peter Cardwell was fired after three-and-a-half years in the job.

Robert Jenrick, the first millennial to enter cabinet, also kept his job as the secretary for housing, communities and local government.

Gavin Williamson will remain as education secretary.

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Ministerial promotions

Oliver Dowden has been promoted to secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport. He will take over from Nicky Morgan, who had intended to step back. Dowden previously held a junior minister role in the Cabinet Office. Michael Gove will add the responsibilities of Dowden’s former role to his portfolio.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been promoted from junior minister for Armed Forces to secretary of state for international development, replacing Alok Sharma.

Sharma has also moved up the ranks to become business secretary, plus minister for this year's climate conference, COP26.

George Eustice will be the new environment secretary. He was previously a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, but resigned in February 2019 over Brexit.

Who is next?

Education minister Chris Skidmore and transport ministers Nus Ghani and George Freeman have been sacked, in a shake up of junior ministers to try and strike a 50/50 gender balance, says the BBC.

Junior ministers who had been tipped for promotion include Victoria Atkins, Kwasi Kwarteng and Lucy Frazer.

Stephen Barclay could make a return to cabinet after his role of Brexit Secretary was made redundant following the UK’s departure from the EU. He has been spotted entering No 10 with Rees-Mogg.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had been considered vulnerable following “cabinet clashes”, says The Guardian. But The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn tweeted last night that he has been told his job is safe.

Wallace has arrived to see the prime minister, along with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.


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