Jeremy Hunt has been promoted to Health Secretary in Prime Minister David Cameron’s first major cabinet reshuffle since he took office.
Mr Hunt, who came under fire earlier this year over his handling of the News Corporation bid for BSkyB, takes over the role from Andrew Lansley.
Mr Lansley, who faced a tough parliamentary battle over the Government’s controversial NHS reforms, becomes the new Leader of the House of Commons, replacing 71-year-old Sir George Young.
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke and Minister for the Disabled, replaces Mr Hunt as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.
Veteran Tory Minister Ken Clarke is also among the first casualties of the reshuffle and has lost his job as Justice Secretary to Chris Grayling, the former Employment Minister.
According to Sky sources, Iain Duncan Smith, the current Work and Pensions Secretary, had been offered the Justice post but decided to stay in his current role to “get on with the job”. Education Secretary Michael Gove has also said he is staying put.
Doubts had been raised about the future of Mr Clarke, 72, whose right-wing critics in the Conservative Party loathe his pro-European views and regard him as soft on law and order.
Though initially reluctant to move the Tory’s controversial “big beast” has agreed to stay in the Cabinet as minister without portfolio.
He told Sky News it was time to take a step back and take on a more advisory role.
“I agreed with David when I arrived that I would do it for a couple of years – that was the agreement that we had when he appointed me. That’s what we have stuck to and I am pleasantly surprised he’s asked me to stay on the Cabinet in a different role,” he said.
“At my age you do occasionally have to step down from a heavy departmental role before you suddenly realise you can no longer quite handle it,” he added.
Theresa Villiers is the new Northern Ireland Secretary and told Sky News that she was “really, really pleased” with her promotion from Transport Minister, as she left Downing Street.
She takes over from Owen Paterson, who replaces Caroline Spelman as the new Environment Secretary.
Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan is also leaving the Government and confirmed her departure by removing her title from her Twitter account.
She is replaced by Clwyd West MP and Welsh Office Minister, David Jones.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps is new co-chairman of the Conservative Party and will attend Cabinet as a minister without portfolio.
He replaces Baroness Warsi, who is appointed Faith and Communities Minister, as well as a senior foreign office minister, working alongside Foreign Secetary William Hague.
She also took to her Twitter account to break the news, tweeting: “It’s been a privilege and an honour to serve my party as co-chairman, signing off @ToryChairman, signing on @sayeedawarsi.”
Justine Greening loses her Transport brief to become the new International Development Secretary, taking over from Andrew Mitchell.
She is replaced by Patrick McLoughlin, whose shoes are filled by Mr Mitchell – the first change to be confirmed this morning.
Announcing the move, Mr Cameron said: “Andrew has done a superb job as Britain’s Development Secretary. He has made British development policy transparent, focused and highly effective.
“His energy and passionate commitment have placed Britain at the forefront of international efforts to improve the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people. He has made a real difference.
“As Chief Whip, Andrew will ensure strong support for our radical legislative programme, by working hard to win the argument in the Commons as well as playing a big role in the No 10 team.
“He will be invaluable as the Government embarks on the next, vital phase of its mission to restore our economy to growth and reform our public services.”
Mr Mitchell now faces the tough task of restoring discipline among Tory MPs, which broke down spectacularly in the massive revolt against Nick Clegg’s House of Lords reforms.
“It has been a huge privilege to serve as part of a coalition which has radically overhauled the way aid is spent and brought a new rigour to British development policy,” said Mr Mitchell.
While the top jobs of Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary will remain unchanged, Mr Cameron is expected to bring in several younger MPs to replace older junior ministers who will be asked to step down.
Among Lib Dem promotions, Nick Clegg’s ally David Laws is expected to return to the Government two years after being forced to resign over his parliamentary expenses.
Sky sources also suggest Lib Dem Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone is on her way to the Department of Communities and Local Government.
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Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/980426