Boris Johnson has carried out a mini Cabinet reshuffle as he attempts to secure his place in Downing Street amid the ‘partygate’ scandal.
The rejig comes as the prime minister faces ongoing pressure over the police investigation into rule-breaking parties held in No 10 and around Whitehall during the pandemic.
The changes see Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg put in charge of maximizing the benefits of leaving the European Union, and chief whip Mark Spencer replaced.
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Downing Street said the reshuffle would improve links between No 10 and Parliament.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “As the PM said last week, it is important that we both make immediate changes to improve both how the No 10 operation works and the work of the Cabinet Office, and further changes to strengthen Cabinet government and improve that vital connection between No 10 and Parliament.
“The changes being made today will strengthen that connection. We have changes to the whips’ office, improving engagement with MPs and helping to drive the government’s ambitious agenda.
“We have a new Brexit opportunities minister, a role that’s been created to drive forward the changes we are able to make now that we have left the EU, delivering on our post-Brexit agenda across Whitehall.”
The reshuffle means that a total of 31 ministers will now be attending the meetings of Boris Johnson’s top team.
Here are all the changes announced today.
In the first move of Mr Johnson’s shake-up, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency.
Mr Rees-Mogg, 52, who was previously the Leader of the House of Commons, will still sit at the Cabinet table in his new role despite it only being at a Minister of State level.
Responsibility for maximizing Brexit opportunities was previously handled by Lord Frost, who quit the government in December.
Mark Spencer has been removed as the Chief Whip.
He will be the new Commons Leader after Mr Rees-Mogg left the position vacant.
His sideways move comes after a series of missteps in managing the parliamentary party.
Mr Spencer played a leading role in trying to get Tory MPs to support a shake-up of Commons sleaze rules in an attempt to spare Owen Paterson from being suspended, incurring their wrath when the controversial plan was subsequently abandoned.
He also failed to prevent a revolt by 100 Tories over Covid rules and faced claims – which he has denied – that he told MP Nusrat Ghani she lost her ministerial role because her Muslim faith made people feel uncomfortable.
His new role will still see him play a major part in liaising between Tory backbenchers and No 10.
Taking Mr Spencer’s place, Chris Heaton-Harris has been appointed as the new Chief Whip.
The Daventry MP is not completely new to the role, as he previously served as the chief whip for the Tories in the European Parliament.
He also reportedly played a role in the “shadow whipping operation” aimed at seeing off efforts to oust the Prime Minister.
Stuart Andrew has been appointed Minister for Housing in the department run by Michael Gove.
He becomes the 11th person to hold the role in 10 years.
Mr Andrew had previously been deputy chief whip.
James Cleverly will stay in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
He will leave his role as minister for the Middle East and North Africa and instead become the minister for Europe.
Michael Ellis has had his role extended.
The role of Minister for the Cabinet Office is being added to his existing post as Paymaster General.
He will also be attending Cabinet.
Heather Wheeler has been appointed parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office.
The position will be in addition to her current role as an assistant government whip.
Wendy Morton has been made the Minister of State in the Department for Transport.
She had previously been parliamentary undersecretary in the same department.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.