Friday 23 March 2018

Some of David Cameron's closest allies Michael Gove and Oliver Letwin culled in Cabinet shake-up by successor Theresa May

Michael Gove
Michael Gove
Theresa May waves to supporters outside parliament after topping the poll Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt is to remain Health Secretary but some of David Cameron's closest allies have been culled in a shake-up of the Cabinet by his successor Theresa May.

After sacking Mr Cameron's right-hand man George Osborne within hours of taking office on Wednesday, Mrs May has now taken the axe to Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan and John Whittingdale.

Failed leadership candidate Mr Gove saw his Justice Secretary job go to Liz Truss, who became the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role.

And Ms Morgan's former role as Education Secretary went to another promoted woman, Justine Greening, whose new department will be beefed up by the addition of responsibilities for further and higher education, skills and apprenticeships.

Mr Hunt sm iled broadly and said he was "thrilled" as he left Downing Street. There had been earlier reports that he had lost his job.

Other eye-catching appointments on the second day of the formation of Mrs May's government included former transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin as Conservative Party chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr Cameron's ex-parliamentary private secretary Gavin Williamson becomes chief whip and Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords, in her first ministerial role since being ennobled by the former PM in 2014.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers announced she was resigning from the Government after being offered another role by Mrs May, but not one "which I felt I could take on".

Mr Hunt's position had been widely seen as vulnerable following his bruising clashes with junior doctors, and his confirmation in the job will be seen as a sign of determination on Mrs May's part to continue pushing through reforms.

Meanwhile, energy minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs in the House of Commons that they would have to "wait and see" whether her Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) would be abolished as part of changes to the machinery of government introduced by Mrs May.

There was speculation that DECC may be merged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) after it handed back responsibility for post-school learning to the Department for Education (DfE).

Downing Street said that relevant civil servants will transfer from BIS to DfE as part of a change designed to allow Ms Greening to "take a comprehensive, end-to-end view of skills and education, supporting people from early years through to postgraduate study and work".

The new Education Secretary, who switches from International Development, said she was "delighted" with her role.

And Ms Truss, who moves from the Environment Department where she spent two years after joining the Cabinet in 2014, said she was "looking forward to getting stuck in" to the justice brief.

Mr Gove - who launched his own bid for the leadership but was eliminated after finishing third in last week's poll of Conservative MPs - said that being a Cabinet minister for six years had been "an enormous privilege" and wished the new Government the "best of luck".

Mr Whittingdale wished his successor "every success", while Ms Morgan said she was "disappointed" not to be continuing as education secretary and minister for women and equalities.

The changes followed Wednesday's appointments to the most senior Cabinet roles, including Philip Hammond as Chancellor and Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

The former London mayor's appointment provoked surprised comment in Westminster and the wider world, with Labour MP Kevin Brennan telling the House of Commons it "must be the most remarkable since the Emperor Caligula appointed his horse as a senator".

Former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said the departure of the two secretaries of state to have overseen schools during the Cameron years would be welcomed by teachers.

"Teachers everywhere will rejoice that both Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan are no longer part of the Government," said Ms Powell.

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