Coffee House

As it happened: Government and shadow cabinet reshuffle

7 October 2013

3:43 PM

7 October 2013

3:43 PM

The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats undertook reshuffles today. As it happened, here is how Fraser Nelson, James Forsyth, Isabel Hardman and Sebastian Payne reported the day’s events. You can see a list of who’s in and out here.


1839:  So in the end three reshuffles that could have toiled on all week are pretty much wrapped up by the end of play. Here are our top lines from tonight’s Evening Blend:

  • All three parties reshuffled their frontbench ranks, with a cull of the Blairites in Labour and jobs for rising stars and allies of George Osborne for the Tories.
  • …while Nick Clegg showed his brutal side by sacking popular Home Office minister Jeremy Browne with a terse letter.
  • The new appointments include a beefed-up whips’ office.
  • Jeremy Hunt ‘clarified’ the tweet that his opponent Andy Burnham has threatened legal action over.

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1750:  The Evening Blend, a free email briefing on all the day’s events, will be going out shortly. Sign up here.

1748: Isabel reports the goverment’s reshuffle today is not about rewarding any chumocracy:

‘Hitting back at suggestions that many promotions have gone to chums of the Prime Minister and George Osborne, a Number 10 source said this afternoon: “This is not about camps and cabals: it’s about giving jobs to people who can do the job well.”‘

1739: Mr Steerpike looks at how today’s reshuffle has gone for two figuresMatthew Hancock (and his ghastly watch) and Stella Creasy:

Steerpike-68x98‘The former Osborne apparatchik has been appointed Minister for Enterprise, which may reflect his enterprising spirit. Asked recently where he got his ghastly watch (pictured above), Hancock replied: ‘from a pawn shop’. How very ‘in touch’.

‘Stella Creasy was expected to be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet. Some of her colleagues will be celebrating the fact she has missed out: a group of seasoned Labour MPs have nicknamed her ‘Stella Greasy’ for her less than subtle promotion efforts’

1711: James offers his thoughts on the Labour reshuffle:

‘That Jim Murphy, Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg all accepted humiliating demotions rather than walking shows an acceptance that Ed Miliband is the only game in town for Labour. Miliband splitting the election role between Douglas Alexander and Michael Dugher risks the Labour campaign being as divided as the last Tory one’

1703: Isabel on the exodus of Blairites in Ed Miliband’s new shadow cabinet:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Where have all the Blairites gone? CCHQ is pretty happy with the Labour reshuffle. Andy Burnham is still in place for them to goad, and there appears to have been an exodus of Blairites from key roles. Jim Murphy is demoted from Defence to International Development – still the same level of seniority but a considerably less prestigious department – Stephen Twigg has gone to do a very dull job as Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, and Liam Byrne has left the Welfare Brief to be Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform.

‘Tristram Hunt, a pro-Ed Blairite has moved in to the Education brief, a lone voice now on the front bench. He’s hardly the pro-teaching union voice of the Left. And with Douglas Alexander as chair of general election strategy – another of the figures McCluskey suggested were exerting the wrong sort of influence over Ed, there are still some enemies of Unite lurking on the frontbench. But the abiding sense of this reshuffle is that there isn’t very much that is Blairite left at the top of Labour.’

Treasury note

There are no Blairites left! Illustration: Carla Millar.

1701: As Isabel predicted earlier today, Kris Hopkins has a job – appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary at DCLG

1655: More changes in the government’s Whips’ Office – Karen Bradley has been appointed a government whip along with Sam Gyimah, while Amber Rudd, Claire Perry, Gavin Barwell and John Penrose have been made assistant whips. James offers his thoughts on these changes:

‘Whips’ Office becomes properly plugged into No.10 for 1st time under David Cameron with both his and George Osborne’s PPSs Sam Gyimah and Amber Rudd joining it.’

1646: Also worth noting that in Labour’s new shadow cabinet, Douglas Alexander is Chair of General Election Strategy as well as shadow Foreign Secretary.

1643: Isabel looks at what the changes in Labour’s shadow cabinet mean:

‘Labour sources are insisting that their reshuffle sees the rise of bright young things, particularly women. They are very, very keen to highlight how many women their frontbench team now boasts – 44 per cent – and are saying that by contrast ‘We have a government which has left failing ministers in place: George Young the first man who lost a vote on military action in 200 years, Owen Paterson, climate change denier, Grant Shapps, halved Tory membership. We have a Liberal Democrat leader who has got a blind spot towards women, eight Liberal Democrat Cabinet ministers, eight men. The highlight of Ed’s reshuffle is to bring in talented and young women MPs.’

1630: Isabel reports the full details of the Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle. Here are the key points:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Rachel Reeves replaces Liam Byrne as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. Byrne will be Shadow Minister for Higher Education (this is a demotion). Reeves will be replaced by Chris Leslie as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Vernon Coaker will take over from Jim Murphy as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. Murphy will move to International development, which Labour sources are insisting is not a demotion. Ivan Lewis, current DfID Shadow will be Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.

Tristram Hunt will take over as Shadow Education Secretary from Stephen Twigg, who will be Shadow Minister for political and constitutional reform (Labour sources are insisting that he is ‘very happy’ with his new role).

Andy Burnham will stay in place as Shadow Health Secretary.

Mary Creagh and Maria Eagle are performing a straight swap from Defra to Transport briefs.

Michael Dugher will be Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, and Jon Trickett Shadow Minister without portfolio and deputy party chair.

Gloria de Piero will be promoted to Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.

Liz Kendall will be attending Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Care and Older People. Emma Reynolds will take over as Shadow Housing Minister, and will also attend Cabinet.

1617: More Under Secretary movements, with Battersea MP Jane Ellison  appointed at the Department of Health

1615: Looks like Labour’s Jon Trickett will be staying in the shadow cabinet, as Deputy Chair of the Labour Party, instead of shadow cabinet office minister.

1608: Some more Parliamentary Under Secretary movements — Dan Rogerson has gone to the DEFRA and Stephen Williams and to the DCLG.

1556: James thinks that Tristram Hunt, of Blairites 4 Ed, is on the rise. This Peter Mandelson protégé explained to The Spectator why he thinks Miliband is right. He also has ‘personal reservations’ about the 50p tax rate and thinks Sure Start in middle class areas not affordable.

1552: Isabel writes on Grant Shapps‘ appearance on Sky News, just now:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Never one to knowingly miss an opportunity to slip a key Tory message into any broadcast, Grant Shapps managed to shoehorn the latest slogan, ‘For Hardworking People’, into an interview with Sky today about the reshuffle. He wasn’t suggesting that this was a reshuffle shedding all the lazy people (if only reshuffles were about ministers being effective, rather than a message to the electorate), but that these new ministers would represent hardworking people. Shapps said:

“What we’ve done is to promote MPs to ministers and to higher positions who are from right across the party, including from the Midlands, from the North, some women being promoted into very key positions really a reshuffle for hardworking people and a big contrast to the reshuffle we’re seeing emerge on the Labour side.”

We’re about to get a great deal more detail on the Labour movements.

1550: The BBC’s Chris Mason reports Andy Burnham will keep his job in the shadow cabinet:

1547: James says that Jim Murphy’s demotion is the most unexpected bit of Labour reshuffle news. Shadowing DFID when all 3 parties agree on .7, the ultimate non-job.

1528: Isabel tweets that the Eurosceptics not happy about George Eustice promotion. ‘Rewarded for his “principled” abstention on the EU referendum,’ snorts one.

1527:  Isabel looks at Robert Goodwill, the new transport minister:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Robert Goodwill is a new Transport Minister, and possesses many of the attributes necessary for the job, including opposition to a third runway at Heathrow (which did for Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers). He was a sponsor of this early day motion in 2008 which called for the Labour government to think again on the policy:

“That this House urges the Government to rethink its plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and to give full consideration to alternative solutions; regrets the Government’s heavy reliance on data supplied by the BAA in assessing the case for expansion and notes the likely forthcoming break up of BAA’s ownership of three of London’s airports following the investigation by the Competition Committee; believes that the consultation paper Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport was deeply flawed, as it paid insufficient regard to the costs of air and noise pollution in the surrounding areas and the commitment to curb carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change; regrets the fact that provisions to improve high speed rail lines from Heathrow to major cities have not been fully explored, along with the potential of other UK airports to handle more long haul flights; and urges the Government to initiate a consultation on a new national planning policy statement on the theme of airports and high speed rail.”

‘Still, at least he supports high-speed rail.’

1521: On Sam Gyimah’s move, James tweets that going from Prime Minister’s PPS to the Whips’Ooffice is an attempt to link up 10 and 9 Downing Street and stop No.10 having to run its own operation

1518Maria Eagle is being reportedly being moved to the shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs brief

1513: Isabel thinks Greg Hands is being prepared to take over as Chief Whip when Sir George Young steps down:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Greg Hands has leapt up the ranks in the whips’ office to deputy chief whip, clearly as a preparation for taking on the top job when Sir George Young steps down. But for the time being, the Conservative MP has got a pretty hefty task on his hands. I hear that John Randall had been plotting in great detail the method by which James Wharton’s private member’s bill could make it through Parliament and into legislation, rather than just being a political game to goad Labour and the Lib Dems on their position on an EU referendum. He had worked out a number of mechanisms, and it is now Hands’ job to make sure that these are exercised.’


1512: David Cameron’s PPS, Sam Gyimah is moving over to the Whips’ Office

1511: On the Labour side, Michael Dugher is promoted to shadow Cabinet Office minister, replacing Jon Trickett.

1507: Robert Goodwill has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Transport and Shailesh Vara at Ministry of Justice.

1504George Eustice, a Lords reform rebel, becomes a Minister at DEFRA says James. He’s voted against the government a few times but was David Cameron’s press secretary.

1549: James predicts that Michael Fallon, Cameron’s fixer, is going to be a key ally for Number 10 and the Treasury in trying to scrap some of these green taxes and levies in the autumn statement. Expect to see him put the squeeze on inside DECC

1456: Isabel on Ed Miliband’s Blairite purge of the shadow cabinet:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Just under two weeks after he decided to embrace his leftiness, Ed Miliband seems to have embarked on a Blairite purge of his Shadow Cabinet. Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg are out, and Jim Murphy has been moved from Defence to International Development, which is quite a snub. Remember that two of these men were on Len McCluskey’s hit list that he revealed to the New Statesman:

‘Ed Miliband must spend most of his waking hours grappling with what lies before him. If he is brave enough to go for something radical, he’ll be the next prime minister. If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.’

‘He adds that the Labour leader must go into the election “with a team that he’s confident in” and says of the shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, who has become something of a hate figure for the anti-austerity left, “Byrne certainly doesn’t reflect the views of my members and of our union’s policy. I think some of the terminology that he uses is regrettable and I think it will damage Labour. Ed’s got to figure out what his team will be.’

1451: Here is Nick Clegg’s letter to Jeremy Browne, explaining one of the more surprising sackings of this reshuffle. In essence, it says it was time for Browne to move over for some new blood. But he has been replaced by Norman Baker, who is hardly new blood. Perhaps he will be the rogue ex-minister from this reshuffle:

‘Dear Jeremy

‘I want to thank you for the key role you have played in government over the past three years, first as Minister of State at the Foreign Office and latterly as Minister of State in the Home Office.

‘You have made a hugely valuable political contribution to the coalition over the past three years both as a highly able representative of the UK to other nations and more recently dealing with the many domestic challenges that face the Home Office.

‘It is always very difficult to move colleagues out of government but as you know, I have always been keen that we provide the opportunity for as many in our ranks as possible to contribute their skills to Ministerial office during this Parliament so that, just as the government has benefited from your contribution over the past three years, it can also gain from those of other colleagues in the remaining years of this parliament.

‘I am immensely grateful to you for your commitment and support over the past few years. You have made a major contribution to this historic coalition government and as one of the very few ministers who have served in two departments, I have no doubt there will be an opportunity for your experience to be deployed in government in the future.

‘Yours sincerely

Nick Clegg’

1450: James tweets that Michael Fallon is to be Industry and Energy Minister, No 10 wants him to watch Cable + sort energy policy: keep lights on + knockback Mili price pledge

1448: Isabel on Helen Grant’s demotion to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘That Helen Grant wasn’t going to rise up the ministerial ranks in this reshuffle has been long known. But as I explained in August, it was difficult to sack her because of the ‘message’ that this would send out. And this reshuffle is about messages: the Conservative party wants to show the public through ministerial media appearances that it is a broad church. So a clever solution has been found for the Justice and Equalities Minister. She has in effect been demoted, losing her Justice portfolio but remaining Parliamentary Under-Secretary in DCMS. She has lost half her job but retained the same ministerial rank.

‘One thing that’s notable so far about this reshuffle is that it is being handled as sensitively as possible, so as not to create any rogue Tim Loughton-style ministers who feel their careers have been destroyed publicly. Ministerial colleagues of Chloe Smith, for instance, have taken great care to praise her for the bits of her portfolio that she shone on.’

1446: Stephen Twigg is reportedly also out as shadow education secretary

1442: The Labour reshuffle appears to have begun. Sky News is reporting that Liam Byrne has been moved out of the Shadow Cabinet while the Mirror’ James Lyons tweets Jim Murphy is the new shadow international development secretary.

1441: James Forsyth offers No.10 some office regarding Jeremy Browne: read this piece, then call up him up and offer him a job and the Tory whip.

1432: A new round of appointments: Hugh Robertson has moved to Foreign Office as Minister of State, Helen Grant while goes to the DCMS. Alistair Burt is also out at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

1420: James mulls Browne’s replacement at the Home Office, Norman Baker:

James_Forsyth-60x84‘Nick Clegg has always complained that Theresa May and Philip Hammond are the two Tory Cabinet Ministers he finds it most difficult to deal with, sending Norman Baker to the Home Office not a bad revenge.

‘Norman Baker is not known for his message discipline, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in to the tightly-run Theresa May Home Office.’

1416: Isabel on Jeremy Browne:

‘Jeremy Browne’s departure from the Home Office might have come as a bit of a shock to Westminster, but not in the department itself. A Home Office ministerial colleague remarked in private recently that “we have no idea what he actually does all day”.

1342: Isabel analyses Mark Prisk’s departure as housing minister:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Mark Prisk has to win the award for the most honest reshuffle departure. ‘Been asked to step aside from Housing for a younger generation,’ he tweeted. ‘Disappointing but it’s been a great eleven years on frontbencher [sic].’

‘Disappointing, perhaps, but not surprising. Prisk was known in the Tory party as the ‘invisible minister’, one so happy to fade into the background that backbenchers privately joked he was either dead or about to become Prime Minister. In fact, most people who follow these things seemed to think that the more vocal Nick Boles was housing minister, when he in fact held planning. The housing sector’s trade magazine Inside Housing tried to measure his impact in the summer, but found few of the industry chiefs had any idea who Prisk was.

‘He frustrated colleagues when he arrived in the Communities and Local Government department by declaring that he didn’t want to do any of the political knockabout that he was expected to do (although coming after Grant Shapps, it would have been difficult to keep up), and also refused to spill the beans on what it had been like to work with Vince Cable at the Business department, which would have been useful for a bit of cross-coalition friendly fire when the Business Secretary caused trouble. His plan, he told colleagues, was to focus on getting the number of homes that were needed actually built. An admirable strategy, except the number of homes completed in England last year dipped to its lowest level since records began to 107,820.

‘And Prisk didn’t fit the bill for the sort of look David Cameron is trying to craft for the Tory party. He’s another one of those ‘innocents’ who I predicted were vulnerable. It’s unfortunate if your accident of birth means that you are pale and male, but judging by his colleagues’ assessment of him, this minister was also a bit stale.’

13:33: Mark Prisk is out as housing minister and Mark Hoban is out as Employment minister.

13:27: Our gossip writer Mr Steerpike has picked up on a remark Michael Gove has made about his former advisor Chris Skidmore, tipped for promotion today:

Steerpike-68x98‘Historian turned Tory MP Chris Skidmore will be hoping for something good in today’s reshuffle…praising his former adviser’s brain, the Education Secretary added ‘and most importantly of all ladies, he’s an eligible bachelor’. Which will come as news to Skidmore’s fiancé.’

13:47: James also reports that Sajid Javid, who is a former investment bank VP, will take the Lloyds and RBS briefs with him to his new job as financial secretary

13:07: Nicky Morgan going to the Treasury as economic secretary, according to James. This means there is now a female minister over there, addressing one big weakness of the previous line up.

13:06: According to James, Ed Miliband’s reshuffle meetings are taking place now, so it looks like the Labour shuffle will come later this afternoon.

13:03: James says the ideologically ‘sound’ Sajid Javid is on a glide path to a full cabinet job before the next election:

James_Forsyth-60x84‘Sajid Javid is one of the few 2010 Tories expected to make Cabinet before the next election. His promotion to financial secretary to Treasury puts him in line for a full Cabinet job in the next reshuffle, expected after the European elections next year. Javid despite having been an investment banker doesn’t have a typical Tory background. His father came to this country from Pakistan and drove buses for a living.’

‘Ideologically, he’s very sound. In a Spectator interview earlier this year, he declared ‘I’m still a Thatcherite’ and stressed I believe in a smaller state and I believe in not just lower taxes but flatter taxes, simpler taxes.’

13:01: Isabel on the new batch of ministers at the DWP, including Mike Penning:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Mike Penning is now a minister of state at DWP. Having served as deputy head of media for Iain Duncan Smith during his leadership, he’s now back with his old boss. This is an interesting move – not just because Penning is apparently the only former fireman in government, thus fulfilling the need for a more varied Conservative offering – but because it appears that there are now more ministers of state at the DWP than there were this morning.

‘Esther McVey has gone from being a Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and unless Steve Webb is planning an unexpected move from his beloved pensions brief, it seems the department is being beefed up. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing given it’s struggling to get Universal Credit right.’

12:59: James on Greg Clark’s promotion to deputy chief whip:

James_Forsyth-60x84‘Greg Clark is very clever but he doesn’t like a political fight, he is a natural conciliator. This, perhaps, made him unsuited to George Osborne’s very political Treasury team. So, having only been in the Treasury for just over a year, Clark has moved to the Cabinet Office full time. There he’ll keep working on his great political project, handing more powers to cities.’

12:48: Sajid Javid has been promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Here’s what Fraser Nelson has to say:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84‘Good news, as welcome as it was expected. Javid is one of the Exeter Tories (like Robert Halfon and Tim Montgomerie), a Muslim father of four and very different to the type of ‘Brideshead Conservatives’ currently in the ascendant. He’s the son of a Bangladeshi bus driver who was a vice president of Chase Manhatten aged 25.

‘He thought his way into the Conservative Party, his politics are radical and practical and I like to think he could become a party leader one day. It’s also good that he has remained within the Treasury, the department most in need of good ideas.’

12:46: Mike Penning has  been made a minister of state at the Department of Work and Pensions.

12:45: Sky News reports that Greg Clark has been appointed Cities and Constitution Minister

12:41: Isabel on Esther McVey’s promotion to Employment Minister:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Esther McVey, tipped as one of the rising stars of what is being branded a ‘flatcap reshuffle’ (dreadful phrase) as a Liverpuddlian female minister, has got the promotion she was tipped for. But it’s a wise promotion, as McVey had won plaudits for her sensitive handling of the very fraught disability brief, and it would have been a shame to reward someone with such a deft touch by moving them away from the brief entirely.

‘She is now Minister of State (Employment) at DWP, which means that Mark Hoban is clearly going somewhere (possibly out – he’s another one of the “innocents” reportedly under threat).’

12:38: James Forsyth reports that Greg Hands has been promoted to deputy chief whip:

James_Forsyth-60x84‘Greg Hands’ promotion is another demonstration that George Osborne takes care of his supporters. Hands was in the Treasury front bench team in opposition but missed out on a ministerial job because of coalition. As a consolation, Osborne made him his PPS—a job that Hands excelled at. From there, he went to the whips’ office to be the Treasury whip and is now deputy chief whip.

‘Given that Sir George Young is expected to go as Chief Whip after the European Elections next years, Hands could well be sitting round the Cabinet table before the next election. It is another reminder that if you look after George, he’ll look after you. Osborne is acutely aware of the power that this ostentatious patronage gives him.’

11:58: Richard Benyon has left the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, reports Isabel:

‘Richard Benyon has now left Defra – perhaps he is the first in a line of “innocents” who I reported back in the summer would be under threat.’

Benyon was an early supporter of David Cameron, as the Times‘ political editor Francis Elliott tweets:

11:50: Isabel reports that Don Foster has been appointed the Lib Dems’ new chief whip:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Don Foster has been appointed Lib Dem chief whip, replacing Alistair Carmichael. Foster has a similarly quirky sense of humour, and vacates a junior ministerial role at the Communities and Local Government department.

‘He is a genial chap, but he clearly doesn’t mind getting forceful when needs be. I chaired a conference fringe panel with him this autumn and watched as he jokingly threatened to ‘strangle’ Policy Exchange’s Alex Morton for suggesting that the government’s planning reforms weren’t having the desired effect.’

‘He also has his own methods of gathering political intelligence: in 2011 he went ‘undercover’ at the Conservative conference for the Daily Politics:

Don Foster - the new Lib Dem chief whip

Don Foster – the new Lib Dem chief whip (via BBC Daily Politics)

11:15: Isabel reports the shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle may be out, hinting Labour may soon drop its support for HS2:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘Maria Eagle will reportedly leave the shadow transport brief, which may pave the way for the Labour party to drop its support for high speed rail at some point. Eagle gave an impressive speech at the party’s autumn conference, but was clearly far more committed to the project than the shadow chancellor had been.

‘In private she was also frustrated with the way the party hadn’t taken her advice on the branding of the new line – she had suggested the ‘north-south railway’, which the Tories have now stolen.’

11:09: Today is shaping up to be a double reshuffle day, with some promotions and sackings also expected from Labour. The Financial TimesJim Pickard has tweeted some of the rumours of who’s in and out of the shadow cabinet.

11:03: Isabel writes that the final details of the reshuffle have been decided earlier this morning:

‘The final details of the reshuffle were decided at the 8.30am Downing Street meeting today. Sir George Young has just left Number 10, which suggests it may all have been agreed’

10:58: David Cameron doesn’t like reshuffles, partly because he thinks ministers should be allowed to get on with the job but also because it’s just pretty darn unpleasant to have to sack colleagues.

After last year’s reshuffle, The Spectator ran an anonymous account of what it was like to be dumped by Dave: any nervous government minister staring at their phone would do well to rehearse what happens before being called in to see the Prime Minister:

‘Tentatively, I turn up at Dave’s office. His flunkies, who usually don’t give you the time of day on your rare visits to the No. 10 bunker, are eerily fawning. Dave bounces out of his sofa, the air permeated with an uncharacteristic whiff of contrition. Something is definitely up. ‘Thanks for coming. Look there’s something I really need to tell you and I’m afraid it’s not good news.’ ‘What on earth is it?’ I simper.’

1051: The Telegraph’s political editor James Kirkup has spotted Ken Clarke at Heathrow Airport this morning, confirming James’ scoop it is likely he will remain in the cabinet:

1043: Below is the exchange of letters between Nick Clegg and Michael Moore about the latter’s departure from the government. Note that the Deputy PM says ‘I believe we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself’ — suggesting that Carmichael was seen as a good change of wind for the ‘No’ campaign:

‘Dear Mike

‘I want to thank you for the vital role you have played as Secretary of State for Scotland over the past three years.

‘You became Scottish Secretary in 2010 at a critical time in Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom and you have managed the challenges of the situation with great skill and effectiveness.

‘Not only have you successfully piloted through legislation to enable Scotland to take a major step towards the party’s long held goal of ‘Home Rule’. but you have also ensured that the referendum next year will give the Scottish people a clear and decisive question on which to cast their vote.

‘It should be recognised that you secured both the Scotland Act and the Edinburgh Agreement in the context of a majority SNP government at Holyrood, and against a backdrop of an external political narrative that often suggested the legislation would fail and a referendum agreement could not be secured. You have achieved all of this while working ceaselessly for the interests of the Scottish people within the United Kingdom.

‘As we discussed when we spoke on Friday, I believe we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself and I am keen that just as we have benefited from your formidable skills over the past three years that we take advantage of other experience within our ranks during this period.

‘I am immensely grateful for all the work you have done at the Scotland Office and for the very significant contribution you have made to the first coalition government in 70 years. I have no doubt that there will be an opportunity for your talents to be deployed in government in the future.

‘Yours sincerely,

‘Nick Clegg

And Moore’s letter to in response:

‘Thank you for your letter.

‘I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the cabinet. Putting Liberal Democrat policies into practice in government has been our party’s ambition for a very long time and I have valued the chance to play a key role in it.

‘This has been, and will continue to be, a hugely important time in Scottish politics and that has made it a challenging and rewarding time to be Secretary of State for Scotland. Taking the Scotland Act through Parliament and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement have been the highlights of my time in office, as well as, more recently, making the case for Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom.

‘However, I have also valued the chance to get out and about around Scotland week after week to listen to the challenges facing people and make sure those are understood by colleagues elsewhere in government. I am glad that there are now early signs of economic recovery, but we must not lose sight of the huge difficulties many people still face.

‘Over the last few years I have worked with a superb team of civil servants and advisers in the Scotland Office, and other government departments, in very challenging circumstances. I do not think the support teams for ministers always get the credit they deserve: I am very grateful for the support they have given me.

‘In leaving the Scotland Office I am pleased that Alistair will be succeeding me. As a good friend and long time colleague, I believe he will do a superb job. I wish him all the best.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Moore’

10:33: James Forsyth reports that no Tories will leave the Cabinet today, while the Whips’ office will see a ‘refashioning’:

James_Forsyth-60x84‘Understand that this reshuffle won’t see any Tory in Cabinet, or who attends Cabinet, leave government. So, Ken Clarke is safe. Big theme of this reshuffle is going to be a refashioning of the Tory whips’ office. Several whips to be promoted out and others let go’

10:32:  Carmichael might be happy with his new job, but he once believed it shouldn’t exist at all. In 2007, he said:

‘The Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices should merge to create a Department for Nations and Regions, with a full time seat at the Cabinet table.’

Just as well no-one paid him attention.

1021: Fraser Nelson thinks that Alistair Carmichael’s appointment is important for the future of the union:

 Fraser_Nelson-60x84‘Alistair Carmichael’s elevation to Scottish Secretary actually matters — not something you can normally say about what should be a non-job. The mission is to save the union and win the September 2014 referendum. Carmichael represents Orkney & Shetland so has the longest commute of any MP.

The man to save the union?

The man to save the union?

‘Moore was perhaps a bit too chillaxed for this job – but, anyway, the fighting is being done by Alistair Darling and Better Together. Salmond wants to make this a debate between him and Cameron’s government, but Cameron has wisely declined. The Scottish LibDems (a separate party in this federal system) are in deep trouble in Scotland: on current polls, they’d lose every mainland seat and only Carmichael would remain.’

10:20: There’s a funny mood in Parliament today, according to Isabel:

10:10: Isabel Hardman suggests Kris Hopkins is a name to keep an eye on today:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84‘One of the names tipped to rise up the ranks today is Kris Hopkins, a Cameron loyalist who would bring a useful northern perspective to the government. But his loyalty means he’s not universally popular in the party. One MP remarked to me last night:

“Kris Hopkins. Horrible factional europhile and caricature northerner.”

‘Though the mood in the party is pretty good at the moment, there is still a strange back-of-the-class element to the Tory party whereby those who stick up for the leadership as Hopkins does are considered horrible little teacher’s pets, rather than simply ambitious rising stars.’

10:04: Just in case you weren’t sure, the Prime Minister has confirmed via Twitter he is reshuffling his government:

09:40: First move of today: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is out, replaced by Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael. We may well be seeing all three main parties rearranging their ranks today, as Labour is reportedly about to embark on its reshuffle today. Cue chaos in Westminster.

Carmichael has been an unusually popular chief whip, but he also has something of the terrier about him, which will be useful in the run-up to next year’s referendum on Scottish independence. We’ve told that this will be the only cabinet-level change today.

09:00: Good morning and welcome to Coffee House’s coverage of David Cameron’s ministerial reshuffle. We’ll be bringing updates of who’s in, out and what it all means. The reshuffle began last night with the resignation of the deputy Chief Whip John Randall and Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith, making way some new appointments this morning.

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