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As it happened: the 2014 government reshuffle

15 July 2014

7:59 AM

15 July 2014

7:59 AM

18.59 The reshuffle is over and the dust is settling in Westminster. Catch up on all today’s events in our Evening Blend email, which has just gone out. if you don’t yet subscribe to this free daily update of all the key political events, you can read it in full here and subscribe here. Thanks for following the biggest reshuffle of this Parliament. This live blog is now closing.

18.10 David Cameron has announced the appointment of Tobias Ellwood as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office and, with an invitation to look at the list of all today’s ministerial announcements on the GOV.UK website, the end of today’s appointments.


17.51 Michael Gove has just been on BBC News and made a very good fist of sounding pleased—nay, ecstatic—about his new role as Chief Whip. Huw Edwards put to Gove the views of a ‘prominent conservative commentator’ that his job change is ‘an appalling decision which suggests that the Prime Minister is more worried about party management than children’s education.’ (See Fraser at 10:00). Gove said that ‘couldn’t be more wrong’.

17.01 Jo Johnson has been promoted to Minister of State at the Cabinet Office (he remains head of the Downing Street Policy Unit) and Sam Gymiah, a whip, has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education.


16.43 James Forsyth has blogged about Michael Gove’s departure from the Department for Education. Has the education reform agenda left with him? Here’s an excerpt:

If the reform agenda is continuing, why not just make Liz Truss Education Secretary? She’s worked with Gove for the past few years as one of his junior ministers and knows the brief well. The decision to give it to a clean skin in Nicky Morgan, previously an effective Treasury Ministers, suggests at the very least a desire to move on from past battles. As for Gove’s new role, it is clear he isn’t being silenced. He is one of the four musketeers who’ll be out and about defending the government and promoting the Tory cause in the broadcast studios between now and the election.

Read James’s analysis here. 16.13 Therese Coffey, Ben Wallace, Damian Hinds and Mel Stride have been appointed as Assistant Government Whips. 16.06 Robert Hutton and Thomas Perry report that Tina Stowell, the new Leader of the House of Lords, will be paid less than her predecessor, Lord Hall. Stowell will draw a Lords Minister of State’s salary of £78,891, while Hall, who was a full member of Cabinet, drew a salary of £101,038 a year. 15.36 Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, says that even though there are ‘quite a few things wrong with the ECHR’, ‘there would be consequences’ if Britain decided to pull out – with implications for our standing on the world stage.

15.35 Here’s something we missed earlier – Sky News political editor Adam Boulton swallowed a fly live on air during his coverage of the reshuffle:

15.27 The BBC’s Norman Smith says the reshuffle is over:

15.20 Philip Hammond has given his first interview as Foreign Secretary. He says that other EU members understand Britain’s need for reform and that he thinks significant renegotiation will be possible. He also praised his predecessor saying that under William Hague Britain has again become a ‘powerhouse for international diplomacy’:

15.01 James on what the Gove move means:

James_Forsyth-60x84Michael Gove‘s departure from the Department for Education is the biggest shock of this reshuffle. Tory MPs have been even more surprised by it than they were William Hague’s leaving the Foreign Office.

Downing Street is keen to stress that the education reform agenda doesn’t leave the DfE with Gove. The changes to the junior ministerial line-up at the department bolsters this argument, Nick Gibb—no friend of the teaching unions—returns as Minister of State for schools and Nick Boles, a close ally of Gove and a man brave enough to take on vested interests wherever he finds them, takes over the Skills Brief.

But, if the reform agenda is continuing, why not just make Liz Truss Education Secretary? She’s worked with Gove for the past few years as one of his junior ministers and knows the brief well. The decision to give it to a clean skin in Nicky Morgan, previously an effective Treasury Ministers, suggests at the very least a desire to move on from past battles.

As for Gove’s new role, it is clear he isn’t being silenced. He is one of the four musketeers who’ll be out and about defending the government and promoting the Tory cause in the broadcast studios between now and the election. He’ll also be an influential figure in  Number 10, attending the 8.30am and 4pm meetings as well as sitting on all the key Cabinet committees.

But Gove is no longer running a department and has been separated from his great moral crusade of education reform. One senior Cameroon counters that what’s most important now is winning the next election and bringing Gove into the centre makes that more likely.  If the Tories do win in 2015, I’m told Gove will return to running a big department.

14.40 Here’s Isabel on Nick Gibb‘s appointment: a positive sign for the education reform agenda — and a signal from Downing Street to those it has spurned:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Nick Gibb’s return to the education department may encourage those who feared Michael Gove’s exit would be the end of the reforming agenda. But it’s also a signal to those who have been sacked. Gibb went at the same time as Tim Loughton in the 2012 reshuffle, but only one of them went rogue. And only one has returned to government. Downing Street wants to encourage anyone sitting scratching their head as their ministerial office has been packed up to not go briefing the media, but to wait until the 2015 election has been won before sailing back into government.

The trouble is that some people who get sacked don’t give a damn about returning to government, and want to go rogue as revenge. And there’s very little the Prime Minister can do about that. The only thing that may keep some quiet is the damage bickering could do to colleagues in marginal seats this close to an election.

14.30 James Forsyth says that Brooks Newmark’s and Nick Gibb’s returns to government show that it is possible to earn forgiveness from David Cameron:

14.28 Ed Vaizey has been promoted to Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – he’ll be responsible for digital industries, while Brooks Newmark has been appointed Minister for Civil Society, a Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office. 13.54 Watch Isabel and the Mirror‘s Kevin Maguire on the reshuffle: 13:33 Here’s Fraser Nelson, Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth on the reshuffle in a special 25-minute View from 22 podcast recorded this afternoon:

13:28 Nick Gibb, the former Minister of State for Schools, has returned to the Education Department in the same role he left in 2012.

13.22 One name tipped for a Cabinet return was Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary. Fraser has the news that Fox turned down a role a Minister of State at the Foreign Office:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84I can confirm that Liam Fox was offered Minister of State at the Foreign Office with responsibility for India, China and Latin America. He has rejected the offer, even when it was later sweetened with the offer of a place in the National Security Council. Fox, a former party chairman and defence secretary, had been tipped for a comeback and foreign policy is one his great loves (he recently wrote a book, Rising Tides, about the various risks the world faces). So why turn it down?

Read Fraser’s blog here.

13.05 Here’s a round-up of some tweets with reaction to the reshuffle:





12.32 Amber Rudd has been appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change; Penny Mordaunt Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government. That makes eight women promoted so far. 

12.28 Former Whip Claire Perry is in as Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.

12.27 Priti Patel joins the government as a minister at the Treasury:

12.21 Anna Soubry has had a promotion at Defence – she moves from Under-Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans to Minister of State. 12.13 The reshuffle is hollow and it’s about image rather than ideas – which shows just why five-year parliaments are a bad idea, says Fraser Nelson:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84We’ve just seen why five-year parliaments are a lousy idea in British government. Even David Cameron, it seems, can’t think of a use for his fifth year – so he has reshuffled his team appropriately. All of the appointments here seem to be assembling a Cabinet for spin. James Forsyth counts no fewer than four government ministers whose main duty is to spin: William Hague (Leader of the House) Michael Gove (Chief Whip), Esther McVey (who stays in welfare but attends Cabinet) and Grant Shapps, who stays as chairman. No10 is quite explicit about this. It has just told the parliamentary press gallery that ‘you should expect to see great deal of Michael Gove on your TV radio channels’. Lucky old us. I’d prefer to have seen him reforming education and changing the life chances of pupils.

Read the full post here. 12.09 David Gauke replaces Nicky Morgan as Financial Secretary to the Treasury:

12.03 Fraser is bemused by Nick Boles’ ‘equal marriage implementation’ brief:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84Nick Boles will be responsible for ‘equal marriage implementation’, says the Prime Minister. An interesting phrase – how do you implement marriage? Will he now go around the country telling same-sex couples to put a ring on it? I suppose the PM’s overall point is that he wants to present his tweaking of Tony Blair’s breakthrough Civil Partnerships Bill (adding a word: ‘marriage’) as one of the great achievements of his government.


11.55 Isabel on Nick Boles’ ‘weird appointment’. Is Number 10 trying to neutralise housebuilding as an issue?

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Another weird appointment in this reshuffle: Nick Boles is moving to Matt Hancock’s old job as minister of state for education and business. He does have background in this area: at Policy Exchange his focus was initially on education, and he was director when the think tank produced reports on free schools and the pupil premium. So why is this move weird? Boles is a passionate advocate of the Conservative party building sufficient homes for the next generation. He has used wonderful Macmillan-esque language about this great social need. But though he had no hand in the development of the National Planning Policy Framework, he ended up being the focus of a great deal of rage about the flaws in that planning policy. And though he gave many eloquent interviews and speeches, he was given very little freedom to implement his best ideas. Part of the problem was the phobia of his boss, Eric Pickles, of anything that would upset core Conservative voters but which might build more homes. Pickles wanted to keep the NPPF sealed. Even though the Conservatives have appointed another Policy Exchange planning wonk, Alex Morton, to their Number 10 policy team, this move is a sign that they simply want to neutralise housebuilding as an issue. Which is what they seem to be doing on a great number of issues, including education.

11.53 Part of Nick Boles’ brief will be—apparently—the ‘implementation’ of equal marriage. Boles has already implemented his own civil partnership:

Nick Boles is Minister of State for the Business & Education depts. Part of his brief will be equal marriage implementation. #Reshuffle — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) July 15, 2014

11.38 Nick Boles, the former planning minister, is back in the at the Department for Education and BIS. Mark Harper is back, after his honourable resignation just five months ago, as Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

11.35 It looks like Labour’s press machine – not always the most efficacious  – is coping well today, says Isabel:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Labour’s press machine has fallen victim to the same sort of poisonous briefing seeping out of many parts of the party in recent weeks. But today it appears to be doing pretty well. A reshuffle in a government party is always a tricky proposition for an opposition party, but there is no shortage of briefings and background digging on new ministers going on. And Labour MPs have had a line to take – that this is a reshuffle for the right that will take Britain closer to exiting the EU – since last night. The question is now how will Labour’s shadow frontbenchers deal with their new opponents? Tristram Hunt, for instance, may find it easier to spar with Nicky Morgan in the Commons than he has with Michael Gove, who has been trying to set a record for the number of departmental questions sessions he can endure without answering a single question directly.

11:30 Former Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning is the new policing minister:

11.26 Here’s Tina Stowell accepting her Peer of the Year award at the Spectator‘s Parliamentarian of the Year awards in 2013:

11.23 Isabel on the appointment of Baroness Stowell:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Lords sources are quite surprised by the appointment of Tina Stowell as leader of the House (to replace Lord Hill, who may or may not know that he’s the UK’s nomination for EU commissioner, given he tried and failed to resign in a previous reshuffle). Many thought Earl Howe was a shoe-in for this job. But Stowell’s appointment is a huge tribute to her very calm and impressive performance guiding the Same Sex Marriage Bill through the Commons: something the Spectator gave her an award for.

11.20 Tim Montgomerie of the Times on the reshuffle. He says ‘the personnel might not be interesting, but the policy implications are’.

11.17 Matt Hancock has been promoted to Minister of State at BIS and DECC. He’ll attend Cabinet, replacing Michael Fallon:

11.14 Christine Blower has just been on BBC Politics discussing the appointment of Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary, and the smile on her face said it all: the NUT chief can’t believe her luck.

‘There had been rumours that [Michael Gove] might go earlier… but although it might be a surprise, I have to say it will be a very pleasant one to lots and lots of teachers just before the end of term.’


11.12 Jeremy Wright has been appointed Attorney General.

11.05 Another woman in Cabinet – Baroness Stowell is to replace Lord Hill as Leader of the House of Lords:

11.00 Greg Clark is Minister for Science and Universities and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office. 10.55 Bookies didn’t expect Lord Hill’s nomination (nor did punters):

10.53 James with the news that Lord Hill, the leader of the House of Lords, will be nominated as Britain’s European Commissioner:

James_Forsyth-60x84Lord Hill, the leader of the House of Lords has been nominated as Britain’s European Commissioner by David Cameron. Hill is trusted and respected inside Downing Street, he was part of the 1992 election team on which Cameron and his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn cut their teeth. But he had told friends he really didn’t want to go to Brussels, which is what makes the appointment a surprise. I expect that Lord Hill will be succeeded by a woman as Leader of the Lords, possibly Tina Stowell ​

10.50 Here’s former Foreign Secretary William Hague on his ‘return to writing’ and his desire to help the Conservative Party in his last year in office:

10.38 Isabel has just been on BBC Politics discussing the new women in the cabinet:


‘Now is a pretty good time to give someone with ministerial experience a shot at a really big job like education… It’s really important to suggest to voters that your government has some idea of what normal life is for voters, and having mothers in cabinet is one way of doing that… And now we have Liz Truss and Nicky Morgan who are both mothers.’

Isabel Hardman on BBC Politics

Isabel Hardman on BBC Politics

10.20 Isabel on why Nicky Morgan may be a less toxic option in the election than Michael Gove:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Number 10 might be insisting that Gove hasn’t been demoted, but one thing that is significant about the change at Education is that it allows the new Secretary of State in that department, Nicky Morgan, to present the same policies in a different package. Jeremy Hunt has done the same job at Health. So perhaps this is a vote of no confidence in Gove in one respect: the Tories think they need someone less toxic to sell their education reforms in the run- up to the election.

10.00 There’s nothing positive about the decision to move Michael Gove from Education Secretary, says Fraser:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84There is no positive gloss to put on Michael Gove’s move from Education Secretary. It’s an appalling decision, which suggests that the Prime Minister is more worried about party management than children’s education. He’ll be replaced by Nicky Morgan – her credentials for education are what, precisely?

Gove was working on this for years before taking the job: he knew exactly what to do which is why he was able to pass his Education Act in 77 days. Morgan will be getting her head around the brief, aided by civil servants who will advise her to stop this reform malarkey and let the empire strike back. The teachers unions will be delighted, as will their allies in the Education Department. They will be able to run rings around the new minister: not because she’s stupid, or lazy. But because education reform is (with welfare reform) the toughest, most complex issue in the British government.

The difference is that in the DWP, the civil servants are on side. Gove was, quite literally, out to get rid of most of the civil servants and then change the department into a free school to make his point. Gove may say that he pulled the genie of school choice out of the bottle. John Major thought so too until Labour was re-elected and abolished the ‘direct grant’ schools (the precursor to City Academies).

Cameron struggles to control his own party, as evidenced by the defeats they keep inflicting on him. So I can see why he has moved Gove into this lesser, parliamentary-based role. And I can see why Gove, ever the loyalist, agreed to do this. But I’m afraid that the speed of reform now slows – and that this reshuffle puts party before pupils.

09.51 News in from James that Michael Fallon will replace Philip Hammond as Defence Secretary:

James_Forsyth-60x84Fireman Fallon has a new role, Defence Secretary. Michael Fallon is the ultimate example of a political second act. Back in May 2010, he had been defeated for the Treasury Select Committee chairmanship by Andrew Tyrie and was contemplating what he could do for the rest of the parliament. This was the second great interruption to his career, he had lost his seat in 1992.
But he then was brought into Downing Street and his ability to put out fires saw him rise rapidly up the ranks and he now finds himself in Cabinet for the first time, 31 years after being elected as an MP .

09.43 What will Michael Gove‘s new role entail? Here’s Isabel with some suggestions:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Number 10 is insisting that there is no way in which Gove’s move could be seen as anything other than a vote of confidence. A source tells me: ‘He has embedded the reforms already, he’s put them in place, he’s not leaving them halfway through. He has bedded in very important reforms and the Prime Minister’s view is now is the right time for him to move into this new role.’
What will Gove’s new role entail? He won’t just be chief whip. He will also do a great deal more broadcast – which was first reported on Coffee House in April – and will take on a similar central campaign role to William Hague.
Michael Gove was also part of the team who worked with the Prime Minister on the reshuffle over the last couple of weeks, which suggests he has known for a while that he was going to chief whip.

09.40 James with news that Nicky Morgan is the new Education Secretary:

James_Forsyth-60x84Michael Gove‘s move from Education Secretary to Chief Whip is a shock and will cause concern that the education reform agenda is slowing down. But Number 10 is adamant that this is not the case. I’m told that there will be ‘no slowing down on reform’ under the new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

09.24 Here’s Isabel’s take on Michael Gove‘s move:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Michael Gove is, as the teaching union placards have demanded for so long, out. He’s left the education department to take up the post of chief whip. It had long been suggested that Gove was getting a bit bored: he has achieved a great deal in education, but the downside of getting all the big reforms through quickly was that he often had a bit of time on his hands to start fights about the historical interpretation of the First World War. Even some of his closest allies felt he needed to chill out a bit.

Gove is an incredibly loyal servant of the Prime Minister. He has long been someone Number 10 can call upon when there has been an awkward patch for the government and he will quite happily pop up on Today or Marr to defend his colleagues with a calm, unruffled air. He was often told his reward would be great, but seldom saw that come good.

Left-wing teachers who opposed Gove’s reforming agenda might be celebrating, but it is absurd to suggest that his move to chief whip – itself a big job – is a ‘scalp’ for the unions. Gove’s reforms have already been enacted. He has got everything done that he wanted. He has succeeded, and can move on.

This is, by the way, a huge disappointment for Osborne protegé Greg Hands, who had been billed as a dead cert to take over from Sir George Young.

09.20 James again, this time with news of Michael Gove. Education reformists won’t be happy about this one:

James_Forsyth-60x84Michael Gove is gone as education secretary, moving to chief whip. The move is a big blow to the education reform agenda, Gove cared passionately about it and was prepared to drive it through regardless of the political cost to himself. ​As chief whip, he’ll be more part of the Cameron operation. Indeed with Hague as Leader of the House and Gove as chief whip you can see this as a strengthening of the centre, but Gove should have been left to see the job through at education.

09.13 Here’s James’s take on Liz Truss‘s rural credentials:

James_Forsyth-60x84Liz Truss, the new Environment Secretary, sits for a rural seat—there’s a page about farming on her website —so will be fairly up to speed with most of the issues in the Defra brief. I understand that the Tory leadership wants her to also act as a secretary of state for rural growth. She will also be heavily deployed in rural Tory/Lib Dem marginals; CCHQ has recently added a bunch more Lib Dem seats to their target list. But it will be interesting to see how the agricultural sector deals with someone who is as rigorous a free marketer as she is. ​



08.52 All-women shortlists seem to be dominating the discussion. Here’s Isabel on them:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84Ken Clarke was worryingly on message when he spoke on Today. He actually managed to back an idea that the Prime Minister likes, rather than trashing it. He told the programme that he thought all-women shortlists were a good thing to increase the number of female MPs in the Tory party. This is now, as we reported earlier this week, a view shared by David Cameron, who is now considering ‘voluntary’ all-women shortlists.

08.44 After last night’s sackings, here’s an update on who’s in and who’s out:


  • Stephen Crabb -Welsh Secretary (Con)
  • Philip Hammond – Foreign Secretary (Con)
  • Liz Truss – Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Con)
  • John Hayes – Minister for Transport (Con)


  • David Jones – Secretary of State for Wales (Con)
  • Ken Clarke – Minister without Portfolio (Con)
  • Alan Duncan – Minister of State for International Development (Con)
  • Nick Hurd – Minister for Civil Society (Con)
  • David Willetts – Universities Minister (Con)
  • Andrew Robathan – Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Con)
  • Damian Green – Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Con)
  • Dominic Grieve – Attorney General (Con)
  • Greg Barker – Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change (Con)
  • Owen Paterson – Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Con)
  • William Hague – Foreign Secretary (Con)
  • Andrew Lansley – Leader of the House of Commons (Con)
  • Bob Kerslake – Head of the civil service
  • Hugh Robertson – Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Con)
  • George Young – Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Con)

8.26 Fraser on the (not very subtle) message conveyed in today’s papers:

Fraser_Nelson-60x84David Cameron has been known to hang Daily Mail front pages on his wall. He will be sorely tempted to do so today – it perfectly captures the vibe he wants to give out. Three older men – Hague, Grieve and Clarke – chopped. Just their heads are shown. And then, on the right, a full-height, confident Esther McVey marching us to war.


If you are a Tory man, it must feel like you are being booted out to make way for an army of hungry women all out for their jobs. This is certainly how No 10 has choreographed the reshuffle: last night was the purge of the grey and the bald, today the rise of the women. And I can see the theatrical merits to all of this. But as I said towards the end of the podcast this morning, it does strike me as rather patronising. The women we’re talking about – Liz Truss, Priti Patel – are some of the most impressive Tory MPs out there.


08.04 The Today programme is reporting that Liz Truss is to join Defra as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 08.03 Here’s James with news of one of the first hirings this morning:

James_Forsyth-60x84John Hayes, Cameron’s ministerial liaison with the Tory parliamentary party, is moving to Transport. This move is a sign that Cameron feels his relationship with MPs is now better than it was.

08.00 Good morning. It’s the day of action here in Westminster. We’ve just seen the night of the long knives – for middle-aged Tories in the government. Now for the promotions. Will Britain join the list of countries with female defence secretaries? Will Esther McVey, Liz Truss and Priti Patel  become the new faces of David Cameron’s government? And will any of them much welcome the idea that this is a mission to bring on the women? Fraser Nelson discusses this with Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth in this special edition of The View from 22, The Spectator’s podcast.

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