Monday 11 December 2017

Your job is safe, Boris Johnson is told as May plots Cabinet reshuffle

The team sent on to the airwaves to defend Tory leader will be the top team afterwards

Performer: Boris Johnson will stay in any Tory Cabinet. Photo: PA Wire
Performer: Boris Johnson will stay in any Tory Cabinet. Photo: PA Wire

Ben Riley-Smith in London

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been given reassurances by Downing Street that he will not be sacked from the job if the Tories are re-elected.

Two sources close to Johnson have said he was given indications he would be safe in any reshuffle. It is understood the reassurances were made at the start of the campaign during intense speculation that Johnson was being kept away from the cameras.

Allies said he became noticeably more relaxed about his future after the discussion, believed to have taken place in late April or early May.

It is not known how the message was passed on.

Johnson's spokesman declined to comment, saying the politician was entirely focused on winning the election.

Johnson has been deployed repeatedly before television cameras in the past week as Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to regain the initiative after tightening polls.

He was sent into the "spin room" after TV debates to argue the Conservatives' case and was quoted in a number of Tory attack briefings.

Aides searching for clues about which Cabinet ministers could be sacked see significance in those politicians chosen to do interviews.

"Look at the television. The team that was on sent out on to the airways to defend Theresa will be the top team afterwards: Boris, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd, David Davis," said one source.

Those who have barely been given airtime will be more nervous. Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, has rarely featured in broadcasts. Nor has Sajid Javid, the ­Communities Secretary, who clashed with No 10 over his housing drive and is close to George Osborne, the former chancellor who was sacked by May.

Tory gossips have also raised questions over Liz Truss, the embattled Justice Secretary, and Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, played down speculation he could be moved in an interview with The Telegraph, saying alleged tensions with No 10 are "overplayed".

May surprised her own party with the ruthlessness of her reshuffle after taking office last year. Osborne, dubbed her biggest political rival, was sent to the backbenches, and aides made clear he was sacked rather than going by mutual consent.

Under his editorship, the Evening Standard has produced a series of critical editorials about the Tory campaign.

Last week the paper's editorial mocked the "attempt to launch a personality cult around May" and called her manifesto "the most disastrous in recent history".

Jeremy Hunt's likelihood of survival as the Health Secretary if the Tories win re-election has also been questioned by Westminster watchers.

A number of former big beasts are tipped for a possible return to government. Iain Duncan Smith has been a consistent defender of May in broadcast interviews.

And Michael Gove was dispatched to Radio 4's Today to defend the Tory manifesto.


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