Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured arriving back in Downing Street today) is reshuffling her top team amid fears it is too ‘stale, pale and male’
Jeremy Hunt wrecked Theresa May’s reshuffle by refusing to be moved from the Department of Health today.
After more than an hour with the Prime Minister, Mr Hunt declined to become Business Secretary and instead left with a wider portfolio that includes all social care policy.
It was claimed tonight that Mr Hunt argued ‘strongly and passionately’ to keep his current job – defying Mrs May’s wishes and holding up the wider reshuffle.
After Mr Hunt kept his job, it meant Greg Clark – widely expected to be sacked – was immediately reappointed as Business Secretary.
So far, Mrs May has promoted just one woman – moving Karen Bradley from the Culture Department to Northern Ireland.
The new members of the Cabinet all appear set to be white men. Brandon Lewis has been made party chairman while Matt Hancock is the new Culture Secretary.
Damian Hinds is currently in No 10 and is expected to get a job.
After more than six hours of appointments, more than half of the Cabinet is now in place. Thirteen ministers are in the same job they started the day.
CABINET RESHUFFLE: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Tory Chairman: Brandon Lewis
Culture Secretary: Matt Hancock
Home Secretary: Amber Rudd
Chancellor: Philip Hammond
Brexit Secretary: David Davis
Housing and Communities Secretary: Sajid Javid
Foreign Secretary: Boris Johnson
Health Secretary: Jeremy Hunt
Business Secretary Greg Clark
Defence Secretary: Gavin Williamson
Trade Secretary: Liam Fox
Transport Secretary: Chris Grayling
Aid Secretary: Penny Mordaunt
Environment Secretary: Michael Gove
Lords Leader: Natalie Evans
Scotland Secretary: David Mundell
Cabinet Office Minister: David Lidington
Justice Secretary: David Gauke
Northern Ireland Secretary: Karen Bradley
Justice Secretary David Lidington has been shifted to fill the gap left by the axing of deputy PM Damian Green over computer porn allegations, becoming Cabinet Office minister.
However, although he will deputise for Mrs May at PMQs he has not been granted the same status as First Secretary of State.
In turn, David Gauke replaces Mr Lidington at Justice, moving from Work and Pensions.
Mr Lewis was the first appointment of the day, replacing party chairman Patrick McLoughlin who has retired from front line politics after a 30-year career.
The reshuffle got off to a difficult start when James Brokenshire resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary.
And it threatened to descend into chaos after Tory HQ tweeted that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was the new party chairman – only to delete the post.
Just over an hour later Mr Lewis was confirmed in the job instead, with James Cleverly as his deputy.
Embarrassingly the image congratulating Mr Grayling had already been shared by MPs including Rebecca Pow and Sheryll Murray.
Earlier the official Tory website crashed after someone apparently forgot to renew a security certificate.
Mr Brokenshire decided to quit on health grounds after discovering a lesion on his lung which will need surgery in the coming weeks.
The departure of her close ally will be a blow to Mrs May as she attempts to reassert her authority on the government.
Mr Brokenshire was replaced tonight by Ms Bradley, who has been promoted from Culture Secretary.
After more than an hour with the Prime Minister, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt declined to become Business Secretary and instead left with a wider portfolio that includes all social care policy.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis have been confirmed as staying in their posts, as the PM stopped short of tackling any ‘Big Beasts’ in the Cabinet.
And with just a few appointments to go, most of the changes so far have fallen well short of expectations for a radical relaunch.
Despite widespread speculation, Jeremy Hunt stays on as health secretary – although he does add social care to his remit.
It was claimed tonight that Mr Hunt refused to take over at the Department for Business despite an hour-long meeting with Mrs May – meaning Greg Clark kept his job there.
The BBC said he was able to ‘persuade’ Mrs May to leave him at health, a decision which had a major knock-on effect on the ‘fluid’ reshuffle.
Sajid Javid also gets an expanded job, with housing specifically included in his title at rearranged Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
David Gauke has merely been shunted sideways from Work and Pensions to Justice.
Gavin Williamson is keeping the Defence Secretary job he was handed last year, as does Penny Mordaunt at International Development.
Liam Fox as expected keeps the International Trade job, as does David Mundell as the Scotland Office.
David Gauke emerged from No 10 tonight (pictured left) as the new Justice Secretary tonight while Karen Bradley (right arriving at Downing Street) is made Northern Ireland Secretary
Sir Patrick McLoughlin (left) has been axed as Conservative Party chairman and replaced with Brandon Lewis (right)
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire (left) decided to quit on health grounds as the PM kicked off the reshuffle. Justice Secretary David Lidington (right) has replaced Damian Green as Cabinet Office minister
Mrs May could send a stark message to Brussels by installing a dedicated ‘Cabinet minister for no deal’ to prepare for a collapse inBrexit talks.
Mrs May has previously been too weak to carry out a full shake-up, but sealing the Brexit divorce deal has allowed her to claw her way back into the driving seat.
A Tory source said that CCHQ political director Iain Carter sent the image appearing to confirm Mr Grayling’s appointment as chairman to a WhatsApp group for MPs, before realising his error.
By the end of the night, five or six changes are expected to be made at Cabinet level, although the top names such as Boris Johnson are considered untouchable.
Education Secretary Justine Greening is said to face a demotion or being sacked amid claims the PM finds her ‘patronising’.
Ms Greening ignored questions about whether she expected to be fired as she left her London home this morning.
Mrs May announced a raft of new vice-chairmen for the Tory Party. They include from left: James Morris, Helen Grant, Marcus Jones, Rehman Chishti, Party Chairman Brandon Lewis, Prime Minister Theresa May, Deputy Chairman James Cleverly, Kemi Badenoch, Chris Skidmore, Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley
The reshuffle was also threatening to descend into confusion as Tory HQ tweeted that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was the new party chairman – only to delete the post
Conservative central office tweeted congratulations to Mr Grayling, before the message was swiftly demoted
Brexit minister Steve Baker is already deputy to David Davis in the Department for Exiting the European Union, and has responsibility for ‘contingency planning’.
SHAMBLES AS TORY WEBSITE COLLAPSES AMID RESHUFFLE
The Tory website was down today with a security warning shown to visitors
The Conservative Party website collapsed today just as Theresa May ordered a major shake up of Tory headquarters.
Visitors to www.conservatives.com were greeted with a warning message their ‘connection is not private’.
It warned: ‘Attackers might be trying to steal your information from www.conservatives,com.’
The error suggested the security certificate for the website was out of date – a simple administrate failure.
A Tory source said the site had fallen victim to technical problems, rather than a hacking attack.
His role could be beefed up and given the right to attend Cabinet, although he would not be a full member.
The minister’s duties would include providing the Prime Minister with updates on preparations if the UK is to leave the EU without negotiating a trade deal.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the post would not be a secretary of state but would attend Cabinet meetings.
The move would show EU counterparts in Brussels that Mrs May still plans on leaving the EU even if a deal is not reached.
A government source said Mrs May will promote more women from ‘non-white backgrounds’ and it has been confirmed she will replace Mr Green after his forced resignation.
Mr Hunt had been tipped to become her effective deputy, with his current role likely to be given to former NHS nurse Ms Milton, MP for Guildford – who is nicknamed ‘Scary Spice’ for her combative Commons performances.
However, Mr Lidington has now taken the Cabinet Office job.
The appointment raises questions about what Mrs May will do with Mr Hunt, and whether he is resisting being moved.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are staying in their jobs amid the overhaul by Mrs May
A source said that Mrs May will make changes to the Cabinet because she is worried voters see ‘stale, male and pale Ministers on the wrong side of 50’ in government.
Mr Lewis will be a popular choice as party chairman, with one of his main tasks to sharpen up social media campaigning.
REMAINER TASKED WITH FIXING CCHQ
Brandon Lewis has been given the crucial task of getting the Conservative Party back on track.
The new party chairman and Great Yarmouth MP, a father of two, was elected to parliament in 2010.
He became a junior minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government two years later.
Mr Lewis supported Remain in the EU referendum – despite a heavy Leave vote in his area.
During the ensuing Conservative leadership campaign, Mr Lewis was a key supporter of Theresa May and she moved him to the Home Office on taking power, most recently appointing him immigration minister.
A qualified barrister, Mr Lewis started his political career on Brentwood Borough Council, which he led for five years.
Among his hobbies are marathon running and DJing.
In an illustration of the problems, Mr Grayling’s appointment was accidentally announced by CCHQ, before being deleted.
An hour later Mr Lewis was confirmed in the post on the No10 Twitter feed. But even that had to be deleted and replaced because the ‘t’ had been missed out of ‘portfolio’.
New deputy chairman James Cleverly admitted someone at CCHQ had been a ‘little over excited’ in naming Mr Grayling chairman. Mr Cleverly said he was ‘excited’ to get on with the job of shaking up Tory headquarters.
He told Sky News: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to tell the whole country about the stuff we have been doing in Government.
‘The job here is brilliant.’
Mr Cleverly said the Government was getting on with ‘delivering for the country’ and said he was confident getting out the message would show in positive election results for the party.
As part of the ritual exchange of letters with Sir Patrick, Mrs May said it was important to make changes to put the party on a ‘strong footing to fight and win the next general election’.
And in his resignation letter, Sir Patrick said there was ‘so much talent’ among junior ministers and backbenchers.
‘I know you need to bring them on to secure the future of our party and the country as a whole,’ he said.
EX-ARMY MP MOVES TO TORY HEAD OFFICE
James Cleverly is a popular choice as Tory deputy chairman.
The father of two is a good performer on the airwaves and not afraid of engaging with political opponents on Twitter.
Having served in the army, his career was cut short by injury.
But he went on to work in publishing and built a small business before entering politics as MP for Chelmsford.
Among the new appointments, media-friendly mixed race backbencher James Cleverly takes over as deputy chairman.
Kemi Badenoch, the black MP who entered Parliament in June and introduced Mrs May’s ill-fated party conference speech in October, becomes vice chairman for candidates.
Tthere is another place for a 2017 intake MP as Ben Bradley, who is in his late twenties, becomes vice chair for youth.
There was a backlash from Labour and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) charity over the appointment of Maria Caulfield as vice chair for women, as the Christian nurse led parliamentary opposition to proposals to liberalise abortion laws in March.
Elsewhere, Pakistan-born Rehman Chishti and mixed-race former sport minister Helen Grant become vice chairs for communities.
Chris Skidmore, Andrew Jones and Marcus Jones gave up junior ministerial positions to take up roles as vice chairs for policy, business and local government respectively.
James Morris becomes vice chair for training and development.
Jeremy Hunt (pictured leaving his London home today) was tipped to take over as Mrs May’s deputy after the departure of Damian Green last month, but is staying as Health Secretary
Justine Greening faces being demoted or sacked from Education Secretary amid claims Mrs May finds her ‘patronising’
Mrs May will turn her attention to shaking up the lower ministerial roster tomorrow.
But she has already made space by demoting three ministers to unpaid jobs at CCHQ – Chris Skidmore, Andrew Jones and Marcus Jones.
MPs first elected in 2015, such as Suella Fernandes, Nusrat Ghani and Rishi Sunak could be given ministerial jobs for the first time.
HOW GRAYLING’S 27 SECONDS AS TORY CHAIRMAN UNFOLDED
11.00: Rumours spread in Westminster Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is about to be appointed party chairman.
11.44: Grayling apparently confirmed on the Conservatives official Twitter account as party chairman.
27 seconds later: Tweet deleted. But not before it is shared by Tory MPs, wishing Grayling congratulations, and reported on TV news.
11.58: Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis arrives Number 10.
12:52: Lewis is confirmed as the new party chairman.
The changes will be seen as ‘succession planning’ to bring through a new generation of politicians.
Former Tory leader Lord Howard said Mrs May must make clear that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ in Brexit negotiations.
Commenting on the prospect of a ‘no deal’ minister, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I certainly think you’ve always got to make it clear in any negotiation that no deal is better than a bad deal, because if you go into any negotiation saying ‘I’ve got to have a deal at any price’, you’re going to be taken to the cleaners, which is what I feel would happen if Mr Corbyn was in charge of these negotiations.’
He also encouraged the PM to promote talented MPs who entered Parliament at the 2015 and 2017 general elections.
‘The challenge facing the Prime Minister today, what she will want to do is to give fresh impetus to the Government and there is an array of talent on the back benches, and in junior ministerial positions,’ the peer said.
‘There really is, particularly but not exclusively those who have entered Parliament relatively recently and I hope and I believe that the Prime Minister will seize this opportunity to give some of those people a chance to show what they can do.’
Boris Johnson (left out for a job this morning) and Brexit Secretary David Davis (right) are being kept in post as the PM stops short of a radical overhaul
JAMES BROKENSHIRE QUITS AS NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY FOR LUNG SURGERY
James Brokenshire resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary today, telling Theresa May he needed lung surgery and could not fully carry out his duties.
In a letter to the Prime Minster, Mr Brokenshire explained he had a ‘small lesion’ on his right lung and while he hoped to return to work soon the job required full attention.
Mr Brokenshire has spent 12 months trying to find a way out of a deep impasse between the DUP and Sinn Fein that has left devolution suspended.
James Brokenshire resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary today, telling Theresa May he needed lung surgery and could not fully carry out his duties
His successor at the Northern Ireland Office may have to re-impose full direct rule of the province for the first time in more than a decade.
In his letter to Mrs May he said: ‘I recognise that this comes at an important moment for politics in Northern Ireland.’
There was an ‘urgent need’ to restart stalled talks on the restoration of devolved government, he said.
‘We are now well into overtime to re-establish an executive if further intervention in the day to day affairs of Northern Ireland is to be avoided.’
Mr Brokenshire, 50, said he had been informed about the lesion ‘in the last few days’ after a series of tests in recent weeks.
In a letter to the Prime Minster (left), Mr Brokenshire explained he had a lesion on his right lung and while he hoped to return to work soon the job required full attention. In reply (right) Mrs May offered her best wishes for his recovery
The Prime Minister appeared to hold out the prospect of a return to government for Mr Brokenshire, who had previously served under her in the Home Office with responsibility for security and immigration.
Mrs May said Mr Brokenshire had demonstrated that the role in the Northern Ireland Office was ‘vital work which will demand long hours, hard effort and complete focus’ and it was ‘absolutely right that you should put your health first’.
She told him he had performed with ‘great diligence, determination and good humour’ in his government roles and ‘I know that you will approach your forthcoming operation in the same way’.
She added: ‘I very much look forward to working alongside you again when you are back to full health.’
Mrs May sent her best wishes to Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Mr Brokenshire, his wife Cathy and their three children.
‘While it is typical of you that your first thought was not for yourself, but for your duties as a Cabinet Minister and public servant, it is absolutely right that you should put your health first, for your sake and that of your family,’ she said.