Westminster on high alert for Boris Johnson to reshuffle his top team

Rumours have been swirling that Boris Johnson (pictured today) will wield the knife before Tory conference

Boris Johnson dramatically reshuffled his top team today – replacing Dominic Raab as Foreign Secretary with Liz Truss and axing Gavin Williamson, Robert Buckland and Robert Jenrick.

After weeks of frenzied rumours sweeping Westminster, Mr Johnson wielded the knife in what was branded a ‘meaty’ overhaul.

The premier cleared a series of key departments in a more radical shake-up than many had expected, with the foreign, education, justice, housing, culture and trade Cabinet briefs changing hands.

Amanda Milling has also been ousted from co-chair of the Conservative Party.

Oliver Dowden takes over that post, with health minister Nadine Dorries – a successful novelist with strident views on the BBC and ‘woke’ Left – elevated to his former job as Culture Secretary.

Mr Raab was stripped of the Foreign Secretary role and given a lower-ranking role as Justice Secretary.

Ms Truss now has that great office of state – becoming only the second woman to hold it.

But Mr Raab was also handed the formal title of deputy PM after throwing what one Cabinet source described as a ‘hissy fit’.

As First Secretary of State he was already effectively deputy PM.

Mr Raab has been heavily criticised over trying to manage the Afghanistan crisis from a luxury holiday in Crete.

Michael Gove is being shifted sideways to the housing department, and also being given responsibility for ‘levelling up’ and defending the Union in a nod to the separatist threat posed by Nicola Sturgeon.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi is now Education Secretary, while Mark Spencer – who had been tipped by many to get the Department for Environment at the expense of George Eustice – stays as chief whip.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel remain in post. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are also safe.

Former aide Dominic Cummings took a potshot at the PM by branding it the ‘Carrie Reshuffle’ – but No10 dismissed the idea Mr Johnson’s wife is involved.

Mr Williamson tweeted: ‘It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.’

He added that he ‘looks forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government’.

Mr Buckland said: ‘It has been an honour to serve in Government for the last 7 years, and as the Lord Chancellor for the last 2. I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure.’

Mr Jenrick tweeted: ‘It’s been a huge privilege to serve as Secretary of State @mhclg.

‘Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship.

‘I’m deeply proud of all we achieved. I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can.’

Liz Truss

Dominic Raab

Liz Truss (left) has replaced Dominic Raab (right) as Foreign Secretary, only the second woman to hold the great office of state

The main purpose of ministers going into Downing Street seemed to be posing for glossy photographs that could be disseminated on the No10 twitter feed

The main purpose of ministers going into Downing Street seemed to be posing for glossy photographs that could be disseminated on the No10 twitter feed

Gavin Williamson tweeted this afternoon that he is out of the Department for Education, and suggested he is leaving government altogether

Gavin Williamson tweeted this afternoon that he is out of the Department for Education, and suggested he is leaving government altogether

Robert Buckland confirmed he has been sacked as Justice Secretary, sparking speculation that his job could be offered to Mr Raab

Robert Buckland confirmed he has been sacked as Justice Secretary, sparking speculation that his job could be offered to Mr Raab

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted to say he has been removed

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted to say he has been removed

Amanda Milling confirmed she was on the way out as co-chair of the Conservative Party today, just weeks before the conference in Manchester

Amanda Milling confirmed she was on the way out as co-chair of the Conservative Party today, just weeks before the conference in Manchester

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (file picture) lost out in Mr Johnson's brutal overhaul today

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (file picture) lost out in Mr Johnson’s brutal overhaul today

WHO IS IN AND WHO IS OUT IN THE RESHUFFLE

OUT

Gavin Williamson

Robert Buckland

Robert Jenrick

Amanda Milling

IN

Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary

Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Trade Secretary

MOVED

Dominic Raab, Justice Secretary and Deputy PM

Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary

Michael Gove, Housing Minister

Oliver Dowden, Conservative Party Co-chair

Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

STAYING PUT

Priti Patel

Rishi Sunak

Ben Wallace

Brandon Lewis

Questions over Mr Raab’s fate were fuelled by his absence from the front bench in the Commons during the weekly session this lunchtime.

He was then seen exiting the Foreign Office carrying bags and heading for Parliament.

Mr Johnson has been calling ministers into his House of Commons office to deliver bad news, so that they are not forced to do the ‘walk of shame’ in Downing Street.

Those being promoted or shifted into other briefs were summoned to No10 later for a more congenial chat with the premier.

Hours later Mr Raab walked boldly up to the door of No10, with his new position being announced minutes later.

Robert Buckland had already confirmed being sacked as Justice Secretary, sparking speculation that his job would be offered to Mr Raab.

Ms Dorries is set to be a controversial choice as Culture Secretary.

In December 2017, when she was still a backbencher, she tweeted: ‘Left wing snowflakes are killing comedy, tearing down historic statues, removing books from universities, dumbing down panto, removing Christ from Christmas and suppressing free speech.

‘Sadly, it must be true, history does repeat itself. It will be music next.’

Ms Dorries also famously slated David Cameron and George Osborne as ‘posh boys’.

Mr Zahawi was schools minister before being promoted to have responsibility for the vaccine rollout.

The father-of-three is reputed to be one of the richest MPs, having founded the YouGov polling company.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay takes Mr Gove’s old post as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

It was the last opportunity for the premier to overhaul his team before the autumn political season goes into another gear.

He is due to head for New York to attend the UN general assembly next week.

The Labour conference starts soon afterwards – during which there is a long-standing convention that ministers avoid making big announcements.

Cabinet ministers also need time to prepare speeches for the Conservatives’ own annual gathering in Manchester at the beginning of next month.

A No10 source said: ‘The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to Build Back Better from the pandemic.

Popularity of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak surges among Tory grassroots but support for Dominic Raab plummets

Liz Truss topped the most recent popularity poll of the Tory grassroots.

The new Foreign Secretary was first in Conservative Home’s latest Cabinet league table, with a net satisfaction score of plus 85.2.

She was more than 10 points clear of Chancellor Rishi Sunak who was in second place with a rating of plus 74.5.

Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, was third with a score of plus 65.5 with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in fourth with a score of plus 64.2.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid was in fifth with a rating of plus 62.2.

The August survey of Conservative Party members saw the now former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson receive the worst rating at minus 53.5.

Mr Williamson has been widely-tipped for a reshuffle demotion after a series of gaffes.

Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, had also been tipped for the sack – she had the second worst net satisfaction rating with minus 16.6.

Dominic Raab, now Justice Secretary and deputy PM, was also under pressure after he saw his popularity plummet amid the Afghanistan crisis.

Mr Raab was third from top in the previous Cabinet league table on plus 73 but he has now sunk to just plus 6.1.

‘Yesterday the PM set out his plan for managing COVID during the autumn and winter.

‘But the government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities. The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.’

Mr Johnson has not made large-scale changes to his team since February last year, when he brutally ejected a slew of big beasts.

They included Sajid Javid, who quit as Chancellor after he was told he could not choose his own political advisers.

Widespread fear of a reshuffle helped quell a nascent revolt against the brutal £12billion tax rises for the NHS and social care package over the past week.

But up to now it was unclear whether No10 were merely using the threat as leverage, with Mr Johnson having been telling some MPs in recent weeks that he is unlikely to make any changes until next year.

Mr Raab came under heavy fire over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis – when he initially tried to manage the response from a luxury holiday in Crete.

As well as briefing that Mr Raab might be demoted, there has been long-standing sniping at Mr Williamson, regarded by many as having bungled schools and exams during the pandemic.

Home Secretary Priti Patel had also been touted as a possible loser if Mr Johnson does decide to act, but now seems to be safe.

Mr Javid only recently replaced Matt Hancock when it emerged he had been having an affair in his office with one of his aides.

There was never a serious prospect of Mr Sunak being shifted, despite claims recently that Mr Johnson had threatened to put him in the health brief.

Mr Johnson carried out a minor tweak to his team last week as Attorney General Suella Braverman returned from maternity leave.

Michael Ellis, who had been covering for her, was restored to his previous role as solicitor general while Lucy Frazer returned to being justice minister.

Liz Truss, who had been widely-tipped for a reshuffle promotion, topped the most recent popularity poll of the Tory grassroots.

The International Trade Secretary was first in Conservative Home’s latest Cabinet league table, with a net satisfaction score of plus 85.2.

She was more than 10 points clear of Chancellor Rishi Sunak who was in second place with a rating of plus 74.5.

Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, was third with a score of plus 65.5 with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in fourth with a score of plus 64.2.

Mr Javid was in fifth with a rating of plus 62.2.

The August survey of Conservative Party members saw Mr Williamson receive the worst rating at minus 53.5.

Nadine Dorries

Oliver Dowden

Nadine Dorries has been elevated to Culture Secretary, replacing Oliver Dowden who becomes Tory party co-chair

Nadhim Zahawi has been promoted to Education Secretary after overseeing the successful jabs rollout as vaccines minister

Nadhim Zahawi has been promoted to Education Secretary after overseeing the successful jabs rollout as vaccines minister

As Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson was wielding the knife, gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench at PMQs

As Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson was wielding the knife, gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench at PMQs

A pensive-looking Dominic Raab was spotted leaving the Foreign Office with bags and heading for the House of Commons this afternoon

A pensive-looking Dominic Raab was spotted leaving the Foreign Office with bags and heading for the House of Commons this afternoon

Mr Johnson holding a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street yesterday, as the government launches its Covid winter plan

Mr Johnson holding a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street yesterday, as the government launches its Covid winter plan

Mr Williamson has been widely-tipped for a reshuffle demotion after a series of gaffes.

Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, is among those subject to gossip about getting the chop. She had the second worst net satisfaction rating with minus 16.6.

Mr Raab, who also serves as Boris Johnson’s First Secretary of State, was third from top in the previous Cabinet league table on plus 73 but he has now sunk to just plus 6.1.

As rumours swirled earlier, a Tory MP who is close to the PM told MailOnline: ‘Sackings after PMQs. Cabinet appointments rest of the afternoon. Other changes tomorrow and Friday.’

One Cabinet source said: ‘We are assuming it is happening today.’ Another added: ‘It looks like today after PMQs.’

Senior No10 figures fuelled the expectations by ‘going dark’ and failing to respond to messages.

Priti Patel stays in post as Home Secretary in the revamped Cabinet moulded by Mr Johnson

Priti Patel stays in post as Home Secretary in the revamped Cabinet moulded by Mr Johnson

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was in Downing Street today as the reshuffle was confirmed - but then went to the Commons to lead for the government on an Opposition Day debate, suggesting she is not on the move

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was in Downing Street today as the reshuffle was confirmed – but then went to the Commons to lead for the government on an Opposition Day debate, suggesting she is not on the move

Dominic Raab

Mr Raab has experienced a meteoric rise to the top in Westminster but his political career finally suffered a setback today as he was demoted in Mr Johnson’s reshuffle.

The Prime Minister stunned Whitehall when he made Mr Raab foreign secretary and his deputy as first secretary of state back in July 2019.

But Mr Raab has now lost his position in one of the four great offices of state and will now serve as justice secretary while also formally becoming deputy prime minister.

His demotion comes after a ferocious backlash over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

Mr Raab faced accusations from his critics of being ‘missing in action’ during the crisis after he delayed his return from a luxury family holiday to Crete as the Taliban swept to power.

He spent the next few weeks trying to repair his reputation as a Whitehall blame game erupted over why the UK was taken by surprise by the speed of the Taliban takeover.

But he clearly failed to do enough to persuade the PM to keep him in his role as the second most powerful person in the Government.

The MP for Esher and Walton, who was first elected in 2010, was first made a minister under Theresa May, serving first in a justice brief and then housing.

But it was his elevation to Brexit secretary in July 2018 following the resignation of David Davis that put him on the map.

He only served in the role until November 2018 as he quit over the ‘fatal flaws’ in Mrs May’s Brexit divorce deal with the EU.

But the frontbench position boosted his profile and the former foreign office lawyer launched a bid for the Tory leadership in the middle of 2019 when Mrs May resigned.

He did not make it far in the contest but swiftly backed Mr Johnson’s candidacy after he was eliminated.

Even so, the decision by Mr Johnson to make him foreign secretary and first secretary of state took many in Westminster by surprise given his lack of Cabinet experience.

The importance of the appointment was made clear in April 2020 when Mr Johnson was hospitalised with coronavirus and placed the running of the country in the hands of Mr Raab.

The father-of-two, who holds a karate black belt and captained the karate club at Oxford University where he studied law, will continue to serve a key role in the Government but his demotion has robbed him of some of his status.

Gavin Williamson

Of all the changes made by Boris Johnson at this reshuffle, the removal of Mr Williamson was perhaps the least surprising.

The 45-year-old’s departure from the frontbench had long been predicted after his time in government was punctuated by a series of gaffes and controversies.

Mr Williamson, who worked as a fireplace salesman before being elected as an MP for the first time in 2010, was elevated to the frontbench for the first time under Theresa May, serving as her Chief Whip from July 2016 to November 2017.

His time as Mrs May’s enforcer will be best remembered for him keeping a tarantula, Cronus, on his office desk in Parliament in a bid to inspire loyalty among Tory MPs.

He was rewarded with a promotion to defence secretary but he enjoyed a less than stellar time at the MOD as his critics took to calling him ‘Private Pike’ after a series of missteps.

He was widely mocked after telling Russia to ‘go away and shut up’ during a speech in March 2018.

He was sacked by Mrs May in May 2019 following an inquiry into a leak from a National Security Council meeting.

Mr Williamson ‘strenuously’ denied leaking information but Downing Street said the prime minister had ‘lost confidence in his ability to serve’.

He returned as a Westminster power player after serving as a key part of Mr Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign team in 2019.

The MP for South Staffordshire was rewarded with the role of education secretary in July 2019 when Mr Johnson became PM.

But his tenure has been littered with rows, most notably over the A-level and GCSE results debacle last summer.

His most recent gaffe saw him claim to have met the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford when he had actually chatted to England rugby star Maro Itoje.

Robert Buckland has been sacked as justice secretary

Robert Buckland has been sacked as justice secretary

Robert Buckland

Mr Buckland’s departure from the Government brings to a close a seven year run on the Tory frontbench for the 52-year-old.

He has spent his entire frontbench career in Whitehall’s justice and legal departments, with his elevation to lord chancellor and justice secretary in July 2019 capping a series of promotions in the area.

He was first made a minister by David Cameron way back in July 2014 when he was made solicitor general, a role he held until May 2019.

He was then shifted to the Ministry of Justice to become prisons minister, a job he only held for two months, as Mr Johnson made him justice secretary in July 2019 when he became premier.

The married father of twins served as a barrister in Wales before he was first elected to Parliament as the MP for South Swindon in 2010.

Mr Buckland was dragged into a furious Brexit row in September 2020 when the Government threatened to break international law as part of a long-running feud with the EU.

Mr Buckland faced calls to quit at the time, with critics saying the proposed move was incompatible with his own oath as Lord Chancellor to uphold the law.

He repeatedly ducked questions about his own position but he was ultimately spared having to make a decision as the controversial plans were eventually dropped.

Amanda Milling has been removed as co-chair of the Conservative Party

Amanda Milling has been removed as co-chair of the Conservative Party

Amanda Milling

Ms Milling has been a leading ally of Mr Johnson for five years, having helped to run his short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful 2016 Tory leadership campaign.

But Mr Johnson has axed her from the Cabinet after a backlash over her handling of a series of by-elections earlier this year.

The 46-year-old was first elected as Conservative MP for Cannock Chase in 2015 but she had to wait for a long time for a seat at the Cabinet table.

She was appointed as minister without portfolio and co-chair of the Conservative Party in February 2020 as Mr Johnson conducted his first major shake-up.

She took over the roles from James Cleverly after he was promoted to become minister for international development.

But Ms Milling, who joined the Tories at university and who worked in market research before entering Parliament, faced calls to be sacked earlier this year following a series of disastrous by-election results for the Conservatives.

The Tories threw away a poll lead to Labour in the crucial Batley & Spen contest.

They were also humiliated by the Lib Dems as they lost their ‘true blue’ Home Counties seat of Chesham and Amersham.

The defeats left many Tory MPs privately calling for someone else to be put in charge of the Conservative Party and its election strategy.

Robert Jenrick has been sacked as housing secretary

Robert Jenrick has been sacked as housing secretary

Robert Jenrick

Mr Jenrick sought to present himself as a clean-cut professional in the Cabinet, but the axe fell on the housing secretary after a string of high-profile and damaging accusations.

His sacking followed the unlawful approval of a Tory donor’s housing development and his eyebrow-raising journeys during lockdown.

As Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, he was also in charge of the planning reforms that have provoked persistent ire from fellow Conservatives.

Mr Johnson brought the MP for Newark, and a former international managing director at auction house Christie’s, into the Cabinet fold swiftly after entering Downing Street in July 2019.

The Prime Minister stuck by the 39-year-old despite anger over his approval of media mogul Richard Desmond’s 1,500-home Westferry Printworks development in east London.

The permission came the day before a new council community levy would have cost Mr Desmond’s company an extra £40million.

Mr Jenrick, a father of three, later had to quash his own approval, conceding the decision was ‘unlawful’ due to ‘apparent bias’.

However, Downing Street insisted in June last year that the Prime Minister retained ‘full confidence’ in the embattled minister despite widespread criticism.

Then, as the nation was ordered to stay indoors and give up social contact during the first lockdown, Mr Jenrick was forced to explain his own movements in April last year.

He travelled 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home, and then travelled for more than an hour to visit his parents in Shropshire.

Amid mounting criticism, he defended his actions – and kept his job – by saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents.

Planning reforms were always going to present a major challenge for a Tory government as it tries to hit a target of building 300,000 new homes a year while also keeping constituents in leafier areas on side.

Mr Jenrick’s position as the face of those proposals did nothing to improve his appeal on the Tory backbenches.

New Culture Secretary is best-selling novellist who featured on I’m A Celebrity and slammed ‘strident, very left wing’ BBC

New Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was once best-known to millions for lying in a cabinet with bugs and cockroaches for company.

But her short-lived stint on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here could barely have gone worse.

Ms Dorries’ lacklustre performance in the aforementioned ‘Bug Burial’ Bushtucker Trial failed to win any food for her campmates, and she subsequently became the first of the 2012 ITV show’s famous intake to be voted off by the watching public.

Worse was to come when Tory party bosses suspended the whip over her decision to leave the country to appear on the reality programme, though she defended her actions, saying MPs ‘should be’ taking part in order to reach large audiences.

The 64-year-old’s brief foray into reality television and her rather more successful side-hustle as a best-selling author will at least demonstrate some real experience within the entertainment business.

However, previous comments on the arts might alarm those within the industry, particularly her 2017 lament at what she perceived as the impact of ‘left-wing snowflakes’ on culture.

New Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (pictured today) was once best-known to millions for lying in a cabinet with bugs and cockroaches for company

New Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (pictured today) was once best-known to millions for lying in a cabinet with bugs and cockroaches for company

She wrote: ‘Left wing snowflakes are killing comedy, tearing down historic statues, removing books from universities, dumbing down panto, removing Christ from Christmas and suppressing free speech. Sadly, it must be true, history does repeat itself. It will be music next.’

And last year she turned her attention to the BBC, describing it as favouring ‘strident, very left wing, often hypocritical and frequently patronising views that turn people away’.

The former nurse and mother to three daughters has also frequently been at odds with what she thought of as her party’s image, memorably referring to David Cameron and George Osborne as ‘arrogant posh boys’, while describing herself as ‘a normal mother who comes from a poor background and who didn’t go to a posh school’.

Ms Dorries was born in 1957 in Liverpool and grew up on a council estate.

She started her working life as a nurse before pursuing a career in business, opening a child day-care business before becoming a director at Bupa.

Before being elected to Parliament as MP for Mid Bedfordshire in 2005, she worked for three years as an adviser to the former shadow home secretary and shadow chancellor of the exchequer, Oliver Letwin.

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