Penny Mordaunt today made a shock return to the government as Boris Johnson ended his Cabinet reshuffle with the same number of women in jobs as when he started but risked criticism after appointing them to less prominent roles.
Mr Johnson started the day by sacking Andrea Leadsom as Business Secretary, Theresa Villiers as Environment Secretary and Esther McVey as housing minister while Nicky Morgan stepped down as Culture Secretary.
He then appointed Anne-Marie Trevelyan as International Development Secretary, Suella Braverman as Attorney General, Amanda Milling as Minister Without Portfolio and Ms Mordaunt as Paymaster General.
It means that Ms Trevelyan was the only newly appointed female secretary of state as the PM finished the day with two fewer women in such roles. Ms Mordaunt and Ms Milling are ministers while Ms Braverman is now the government’s chief legal adviser.
Ms Mordaunt’s return to the Cabinet is also likely to spark controversy given that her two previous jobs were at secretary of state level at defence and international development.
Scrutiny of the gender balance of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet came after he appointed Rishi Sunak as his new Chancellor following the bombshell resignation of Sajid Javid.
The PM began the day by sacking a handful of prominent ministers in order to reshape his new administration.
He promoted International Development Secretary Alok Sharma to the role of Business Secretary, pushed Brandon Lewis from security minister to Northern Ireland Secretary and made Stephen Barclay Chief Secretary to the Treasury after his Brexit Secretary role was abolished on January 31 following the UK’s departure from the EU.
Who is in Boris Johnson’s new-look Cabinet
Chancellor: Rishi Sunak
Foreign Secretary: Dominic Raab
Home Secretary: Priti Patel
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove
Justice Secretary: Robert Buckland
Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace
Health Secretary: Matt Hancock
Business Secretary: Alok Sharma
Trade Secretary: Liz Truss
Work and Pensions Secretary: Therese Coffey
Education Secretary: Gavin Williamson
Environment Secretary: George Eustice
Housing Secretary: Robert Jenrick
Transport Secretary: Grant Shapps
Culture Secretary: Oliver Dowden
International Development Secretary: Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Northern Ireland Secretary: Brandon Lewis
Scottish Secretary: Alister Jack
Welsh Secretary: Simon Hart
Attorney General: Suella Braverman
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Stephen Barclay
Minister without Portfolio: Amanda Milling
Paymaster General: Penny Mordaunt
Chief Whip: Mark Spencer
Meanwhile, Oliver Dowden was named as Lady Morgan’s replacement as Culture Secretary while George Eustice was made Environment Secretary.
Many of the most senior members of the government were reappointed to their existing positions including: Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Robert Buckland, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Matt Hancock, Liz Truss, Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick, Grant Shapps, Ben Wallace and Therese Coffey.
However, those moves by the PM were totally overshadowed by Mr Javid’s sensational decision to quit the government.
Mr Javid walked away after a blazing row with Mr Johnson in Number 10 this morning as the Treasury chief refused to bow to demands from the PM’s top aide Dominic Cummings to sack his special advisers and accept a team being imposed on him.
Mr Sunak, who as Chief Secretary to the Treasury was Mr Javid’s deputy, was swiftly elevated to the second most powerful job in the government.
The 39-year-old becomes the second youngest chancellor in modern British history after George Osborne who was 38 when he took on the role in 2010.
Mr Javid had earlier been photographed grinning when he arrived in Downing Street but he has now left Number 11 after just 204 days in post and less than a month before the Budget.
The extraordinary development came after the PM wielded the knife on a host of veteran Cabinet ministers as part of a brutal shake-up.
Ms Leadsom, Ms McVey and Ms Villiers were all removed from the frontbench as the PM conducted face-to-face meetings with them in his parliamentary office early this morning before heading back to Number 10.
He also got rid of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith.
Mr Smith, sacked just weeks after successfully restoring powersharing arrangements in Stormont, confirmed his departure on Twitter saying serving in the job had been the ‘biggest privilege’. His fate is believed to be linked to his chilling warnings about the consequences of No Deal Brexit last Autumn.
Mrs Leadsom, who insiders claim irritated No10 aides by arguing at Cabinet, said she was proud to have been in government for six years, and would now ‘focus on my constituents’ after being sacked as business secretary while Ms McVey said she was ‘very sorry’ to have been relieved of her duties as housing minister.
Ms Villiers made light of losing her job as environment secretary on Facebook, joking that ‘what the PM giveth the PM taketh away’. Meanwhile, Mr Cox delivered a thinly-veiled rebuke, pointing out that he had introduced Mr Johnson at his Tory leadership launch and been a loyal Brexiteer.
Boris Johnson conducted a major shake-up of his Cabinet today as he axed numerous senior figures and made a wave of fresh appointments
Penny Mordaunt today made a surprise return to the Cabinet as she was appointed as the Paymaster General, based in the Cabinet Office
Rishi Sunak, pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning, has been made Chancellor after the stunning resignation of Sajid Javid
Boris Johnson has made relatively unknown former Brexit minister Suella Braverman his Attorney General (pictured today), replacing Geoffrey Cox
Mr Sunak, who is said to be good friends with Sajid Javid (pictured together at a Star Wars screening), becomes Chancellor at the age of 39, making him the second youngest Treasury chief in modern British history
Mr Javid addressed the media outside his London home this afternoon after Westminster was stunned by his departure from the government
Mr Johnson spent the early part of the morning in Parliament as he sacked a number of his senior ministers before later returning to Number 10
Alok Sharma has been promoted to become the new Business Secretary while Anne-Marie Trevelyan takes Mr Sharma’s old job as the International Development Secretary
Oliver Dowden, pictured today ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales to the Cabinet Office, appeared to be in high spirits after his promotion to Culture Secretary
Boris Johnson’s new look Cabinet
Anne-Marie Trevelyan – International Development Secretary
Anne-Marie Trevelyan was widely tipped for a promotion to the Cabinet long before today’s reshuffle.
She was made a junior defence minister at the end of July last year when Boris Johnson became PM but was always expected to eventually be elevated to the Tory top team.
Her profile in Parliament was boosted in 2018 and 2019 as she helped lead the Tory Eurosceptic attack on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
She quit a junior role in Mrs May’s government in November 2018 in protest over the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels.
And the 50-year-old went onto become a senior member of the European Research Group of anti-EU Conservative MPs.
Oliver Dowden – Culture Secretary
Nicknamed ‘Olive’, Oliver Dowden was plucked from relative political obscurity and elevated to the Cabinet by Boris Johnson last year as he was made Paymaster General.
He got the moniker when he worked as a fixer for David Cameron when the latter was in Number 10.
The 40-year-old father of two represents the Hurtsmere seat in Herfordshire, the area where he was born and raised.
He was state educated before winning a place at Cambridge to study law.
Mr Dowden worked for the Conservative Party and then in public relations before returning to become a special adviser and then Mr Cameron’s deputy chief of staff.
Suella Braverman – Attorney General
Suella Braverman’s elevation to the Cabinet at just 39 will strengthen pro-Brexit voices at the top table.
Before entering parliament Ms Braverman was a barrister. She has been the Tory MP for Fareham in Hampshire since 2015.
She served as the chair of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs between June 2017 and January 2018. Ms Braverman joined Theresa May’s government first as a junior treasury aide and then as a Brexit minister in January 2018.
However, she opposed Mrs May’s EU divorce deal and quit in protest at the agreement in November 2018.
Alok Sharma – Business Secretary and COP26 president
An ardent and long-time supporter of Boris Johnson, Alok Sharma has enjoyed growing prominence in Westminster ever since the former took power.
He was initially elevated to the Cabinet last year when Mr Johnson became PM as he was handed the International Development brief.
But today’s move represents a significant step up the pecking order for Mr Sharma who was frequently sent out to bat for Mr Johnson during the Tory leadership campaign.
The 52 year-old only started his ministerial career in July 2016. He had a relatively low profile in Theresa May’s government but did hit the headlines when he was housing minister in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Steve Barclay – Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Mr Barclay rose to prominence as the Brexit Secretary but saw that job abolished on January 31 when the UK finally left the EU.
He was widely expected to return to the Cabinet in the reshuffle but the fact he has come back as a high ranking minister rather than as a secretary of state does represent a demotion and will raise eyebrows.
He was relatively unknown when he originally took the Brexit Secretary role but he grew into the role and has been one of Mr Johnson’s most loyal supporters.
Brandon Lewis – Northern Ireland Secretary
The 48-year-old father of two was handed a promotion today as he went from Security Minister to Northern Ireland Secretary.
A former policing, housing and immigration minister he was privately educated and became a barrister before becoming MP for Great Yarmouth in 2010. He notably oversaw the Tories’ disastrous 2017 general election campaign while he served as Conservative Party chairman.
He was moved as party chairman at the reshuffle last July when Mr Johnson took power.
George Eustice – Environment Secretary
George Eustice moves up to take the top job in the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs after serving as its number two minister since last year.
The 48-year-old Brexiteers has been the Tory MP for Camborne and Redruth since 2010 and was appointed Food Minister by David Cameron in 2015.
Before entering politics he previously worked for his family’s strawberry farming business in Cornwall, and says his family has lived and worked in the area of his constituency for 400 years.
A keen Brexiteer who supported the Vote Leave campaign, he previously campaigned against joining the Euro before becoming an MP.
He stood as a Ukip European election candidate in 1999 before switching parties and was the Conservatives’ head of press under Michael Howard.
As well as becoming Business Secretary, Mr Sharma has also been made minister for the COP26 UN climate change summit which is due to be held in Glasgow in November.
The summit has descended into a state of shambles in recent weeks following the sacking of ex-Tory minister Claire Perry O’Neill as its president.
No10 hopes the new Cabinet line-up will be largely complete by this afternoon.
Mr Johnson is expected to hand promotions to a number of female Tory MPs to maintain the existing gender balance in his top team.
Labour seized on the resignation of Mr Javid as evidence that the new Tory government is in a state of ‘crisis’ just two months after the general election.
John McDonnell, the outgoing shadow chancellor, said: ‘This must be a historical record with the government in crisis after just over two months in power.
‘Dominic Cummings has clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge as Chancellor.’
There had been rumours that Ms Trevelyan, a junior defence minister, could replace her current boss Ben Wallace.
But ultimately she was handed the role at the Department for International Development.
Victoria Atkins, a Home Office minister had also been tipped to climb the ladder but now appears unlikely to do so.
Mr Dowden, a former adviser to David Cameron, was widely tipped to take over from Baroness Morgan who is standing down to spend more time with her family and that proved accurate as he was promoted from the role of Paymaster General.
Ms Mordaunt, sacked by Mr Johnson after being a cheerleader for his Tory leadership rival Jeremy Hunt last year, had been tipped to make a return to the Cabinet.
And while she was handed a government role, replacing Mr Dowden as Paymaster General, it was not at the same level as her previous role as secretary of state for defence.
Mr Smith said on Twitter: ‘Serving the people of Northern Ireland has been the biggest privilege.
‘I am extremely grateful to @BorisJohnson for giving me the chance to serve this amazing part of our country.
‘The warmth & support from people across NI has been incredible. Thank you so much.’
DUP leader Arlene Foster paid tribute to Mr Smith for his ‘incredible’ contribution to restoring devolution in Northern Ireland.
She tweeted: ‘Spoke with @JulianSmithUK a short time ago to thank him for his help in getting devolution restored.
‘We may not have always agreed (we did sometimes) but his dedication to the role was incredible.
‘Best wishes to him and his family. Always welcome in Fermanagh.’
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney sent a message to Mr Smith saying: ‘U have been such an effective SOS for NI at a time of real challenge & risk.
‘Without your leadership I don’t believe NI would have a Govt today.
‘Thank you @JulianSmithUK for your trust, friendship and courage; UK & #Ireland can look to future with more confidence because of it.’
Ms McVey tweeted: ‘I’m very sorry to be relieved of my duties as Housing Minister I wish my successor the very best & every success I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister for having given me the opportunity to serve in his government & he will continue to have my support from the back benches.’
Mr Cox, who was subject to hostile briefings from No10 that he was not a ‘team player’, said he was proud to have been part of government in ‘turbulent political times’.
In his resignation letter, the QC stressed his credentials as a loyalist, saying he had always backed Mr Johnson to ‘see off the twin threats of Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage’.
He pointed out that he told MPs last year they risked ‘incurring the wrath of the British people by continually frustrating the result of the referendum’.
‘I have been truly privileged to have served as Attorney General during the recent turbulent political times. I am now leaving the Government at the PM’s request.
‘I shall continue to represent and stand up strongly for the interests of Torridge and West Devon,’ he said.
Ms Villiers posted ruefully on Facebook: ‘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 backbenches.
‘This morning he told me that I need to make way for someone new.
‘I am deeply grateful for having been given the opportunity to serve twice at the highest level of Government, first as Northern Ireland Secretary and then as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
‘I tackled both roles with passion, commitment, and huge amounts of hard work.’
Outside the Cabinet, universities minister Chris Skidmore revealed today he was out of government, joking that he had been freed to ‘be a better dad’.
Transport ministers George Freeman and Nusrat Ghani have also been given the bullet – although their boss Grant Shapps is set to stay in post.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deflect enquiries about his future this morning by chatting blithely about the weather as he left his London home – although he was proven to be safe despite a backlash over comments about Grenfell during the election campaign.
The PM’s maverick aide Mr Cummings had initially wanted to slash the size of the Cabinet and axe a series of Whitehall departments.
But his advice appears to have been rejected for now, with ministers saying there is little sign of big changes to the machinery of government.
However, one current Cabinet minister cautioned that ‘you never know what they are dreaming up in secret’.
Speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels yesterday, Defence Secretary Mr Wallace admitted reshuffles could be ‘brutal’ but said he hoped his military experience and the fact he is a northern MP would help keep him in post.
Mr Wallace will not attend the Munich Security Conference tomorrow.
But one Whitehall source dismissed speculation this meant he was going to be sacked, saying: ‘Quite the opposite.’
Reports last month suggested the PM was willing to jettison as many as six female Cabinet ministers.
However, he appears to have backed away to avoid allegations of sexism.
A Government source said the PM was aiming to have a ’50/50 gender balance’ among the 26 most junior ministerial positions.
Grant Shapps, pictured left after leaving 10 Downing Street this afternoon, was kept on as Transport Secretary while Jacob Rees-Mogg will remain as Commons Leader
Matt Hancock, pictured in Downing Street today, was one of many senior ministers who were kept in their existing Cabinet roles. He will continue as Health Secretary
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has also been axed – with solicitor general Michael Ellis filling his duties taking questions in the House this morning – and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers was ousted
Until Mr Javid’s exit, the most surprising move by the Prime Minister had been the sacking of Julian Smith just weeks after brokering the deal which restored the powersharing administration in Stormont
Esther McVey (left) and Theresa Villiers (right) were both sacked in the reshuffle today
Julian Smith confirmed his departure from Cabinet today – just weeks after a breakthrough that saw powersharing restored in the province – saying serving as Northern ireland Secretary had been the ‘biggest privilege’
Mrs Leadsom said she was proud to have been in government for six years, and would now ‘focus on my constituents’
Outside the Cabinet, universities minister Chris Skidmore revealed he was out of government, joking that he had been freed to ‘be a better dad’
Who has been sacked from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet?
Julian Smith: Out as Northern Ireland Secretary
Julian Smith’s removal as Northern Ireland Secretary represents a crushing blow for the man who successfully helped restore powersharing at Stormont after three years of deadlock.
Mr Smith did what his predecessors failed to do when he steered the devolved assembly back on track in January but it was not enough to keep him in the Cabinet.
He has been booted out by Boris Johnson with critics speculating he was relieved of his duties due to clashes last year over the PM’s Brexit policy.
An MP for Skipton and Ripon since 2010, he previously held the role of parliamentary secretary to the treasury and chief whip.
As chief whip he was tasked with trying – and failing – three times to help pass Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and many were surprised that he was kept in the Cabinet when Mr Johnson took power in July last year.
The married 48-year-old was educated at the University of Birmingham, and Balfron High School before going on to have a successful career as an entrepreneur after setting up Arq International, an executive recruiting firm, in 1999.
In Parliament since 2010, Mr Smith served on the Scottish Affairs Committee briefly before he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Minister of State for International Development Sir Alan Duncan MP between September 2010 and 2012.
He then became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International Development, between 2012 and May 2015, before he was appointed an Assistant Government Whip in David Cameron’s Government.
After the 2016 EU referendum, Mr Smith became one of six MPs who led Mrs May’s leadership campaign, and after the campaign’s success he was appointed Vice-Chamberlain of the Household – a senior position within the whips’ office.
Mr Smith attended the DUP annual conference in 2017 after the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionists was brokered in the wake of the election, and was welcomed as a ‘friend’ of the party.
He backed Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum and served as chief whip under Mrs May between November 2017 and July 2019 before surprisingly being made Northern Ireland Secretary by Boris Johnson – a role he held for 204 days.
He sparked controversy when he was critical of Mrs May’s approach, claiming that the government should have made it clear after the 2017 election that it would have to accept a closer relationship with the European Union following Brexit.
In a BBC documentary he also criticised ministers, accusing them of trying to undermine Mrs May, claiming their behaviour was the ‘worst example of ill-discipline in cabinet in British political history’.
In October 2013 The Guardian had claimed that Smith may have breached national security by posting an image of himself alongside military personnel at a high-security US base on his website.
Mr Smith says his interests include ‘violin and piano’ and was a junior international squash player.
Andrea Leadsom: Out as Business Secretary
A former Tory leadership contender who was forced to apologise to Theresa May for suggesting being a parent made her a better leadership candidate than the childless ex-PM, Ms Leadsom leaves the government after six years on the front bench.
Ms Leadsom was appointed Business Secretary by Boris Johnson when he took office in July last year.
The Leave supporter, a mother of three, resigned as leader of the House of Commons in May last year amid a backlash against Mrs May’s Brexit plan.
Mrs Leadsom was hardly a household name when she first entered the fray to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party in the wake of the EU referendum in 2016.
Her plans to cross the threshold of Number 10 were thwarted when comments which appeared to suggest being a mother gave her an advantage as a potential prime minister over Mrs May saw the then-energy minister’s hopes of winning evaporate.
In an interview she said: ‘I feel that being a mum means you have a real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.’
Her departure from the leadership race in 2016 resulted in her being appointed environment secretary when Mrs May became premier.
After the 2017 general election she was made Commons Leader, a role she held until Mr Johnson moved her to the business department.
Mrs Leadsom entered Parliament in 2010 after a 25-year career in banking and finance – realising an ambition she first developed at the age of 13.
Educated at Tonbridge Girls Grammar School and Warwick University, she rose to become financial institutions director at Barclays and worked with then Bank of England governor Eddie George to avert a crisis after the 1995 Barings collapse.
She later spent a decade in fund management – her financial experience gaining her first a seat on the Treasury Select Committee and then a stint as economic secretary to the Treasury with responsibility for financial services.
After a spell as a councillor in South Oxfordshire from 2003-2007 – during which she fought an unsuccessful general election campaign in the safe Labour seat of Knowsley South – she became MP for South Northamptonshire.
Esther McVey: Out as Housing Minister
Esther McVey found fame as a GMTV presenter in the 1990s before turning to politics, and was considered one of the Conservative Party’s strongest media performers.
The MP for Tatton – George Osborne’s old seat – resigned in protest from the Cabinet over Theresa May’s Brexit deal in November 2018 but was brought back to the top table by Boris Johnson last year.
Ms McVey made a bid for the leadership after Theresa May quit last year – but finished in last place after the first ballot of MPs.
The 51-year-old, who attended Cabinet as employment minister under David Cameron, was the most high-profile Tory casualty of the 2015 general election when she was ousted by Labour in Wirral West.
She lost her seat after the unions launched a concerted effort to remove her from a constituency which was surrounded by a sea of red.
She returned to Parliament in June 2017 after taking Mr Osborne’s seat and was made deputy chief whip in November the same year.
In January 2018, she made a remarkable comeback to the Cabinet table when she was appointed Work and Pensions Secretary.
In an interview with the Daily Mail late last year, Ms McVey revealed how she had been put into foster care as a baby after she was born to young parents.
She said: ‘I believe most people in their life will fall upon tough times at some point. I want to give the message that anyone can succeed given the opportunity.
But she sent Mrs May’s Cabinet into meltdown in November when she dramatically quit in fury at the PM’s Brexit divorce deal.
She joined Dominic Raab in storming out in fury after the PM put her blueprint to her ministers in a stormy five-hour cabinet session.
In March she boosted talk of a leadership bid after going public with her MP lover Philip Davies.
The four-year relationship between her and the stubborn backbench MP for Shipley, 47, was already an open secret at Westminster.
But the Brexiteer lovers went public to confirm they are ‘two individuals, but a couple’ in a joint-interview with the Conservative Home website.
She later revealed that they were planning to marry after he proposed in April.
Geoffrey Cox: Out as Attorney General
Relatively unknown in Westminster before becoming Attorney General in 2018, Geoffrey Cox became a key player in Theresa May’s government in the run up to the original March 29, 2019 Brexit deadline.
He announced himself on the national political scene with a barnstorming speech as the warm up act for Mrs May at Conservative Party conference in October 2018.
With his booming voice and soaring rhetoric he left many in the conference hall wondering why he wasn’t the prime minister.
His professional opinion would later have a major impact on Britain’s departure from the EU.
MPs wrestled with the government as they demanded Mr Cox’s Brexit legal advice be published with the Commons eventually victorious in the contest.
The publication of the legal advice in December 2018 torpedoed Mrs May’s hopes of getting her Brexit deal through parliament because in it Mr Cox said the UK could not unilaterally leave the Irish border backstop protocol if it was ever implemented.
He wrote: ‘In the absence of a right of termination, there is a legal risk that the United Kingdom might become subject to protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations.’
The 59-year-old QC was chosen to stay in the role as the government’s top legal adviser by Boris Johnson when the latter took power in July last year.
He first became an MP in 2005 and has represented the seat of Torridge and West Devon ever since. Before his political career he was a barrister, having first been called to the Bar in 1982.
He is married and has three children.
He has been tipped to chair a democracy commission being planned by the government to examine the relationship between Parliament and the courts.
Theresa Villiers: Out as Environment Secretary
One of the leading Brexiteers in the government, Ms Villiers has been ousted as Environment Secretary after only being given the role in July last year.
Boris Johnson brought the divorced 51-year-old ex-barrister, who is descended from Edward II, back into government when he initially took power.
She had served as Northern Ireland Sectary in the coalition government and later under David Cameron’s Tory government before being sacked by Theresa May.
A lawyer, university lecturer and MEP before entering the Commons in 2005 the London-born and Bristol-educated MP for Chipping Barnet has not always seen eye-to eye with Mr Johnson over the environment.
She had shown her green credentials before her appointment last year having sparked a well-publicised hunt for a mystery litter bug who left their Crunchie chocolate bar wrapper in the House of Commons Chamber.
She attacked litterers who dump their rubbish – damaging the environment and harming people’s quality of life.
And she warned that even the
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