Cabinet reshuffle: Vaccines and schools briefs still to be announced as more ministers fired

Penny Mordaunt has been appointed as minister of state at the Department for International Trade as Boris Johnson continues to reshape his government after carrying out a major overhaul of his cabinet on Wednesday.

Michael Ellis will take on Ms Mordaunt’s former role as paymaster general at the Cabinet Office.

One of the top changes saw Liz Truss getting the foreign secretary brief, bumping out Dominic Raab to become justice secretary after he was heavily criticised for being on holiday as the Taliban took Afghanistan.

In 2020, Mr Raab deputised for Mr Johnson while the prime minister was treated in intensive care with COVID-19.

He will now formally take on the role as deputy prime minister after the position was revived by the PM.

The promotion of Ms Truss from international trade secretary – taken over by Anne-Marie Trevelyan – means two of the top four jobs are now held by women after Priti Patel kept her home secretary role.

In a post on social media on Thursday, Ms Truss confirmed she chaired a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers on her first day in the new position.

"The United Kingdom is committed to a strong and prosperous future for the Commonwealth," she said.

"On my first day as foreign secretary, I chaired a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers to discuss vital issues we face: boosting trade, building back better from COVID and tackling climate change."

Latest reshuffle news as PM shakes up team

The dramatic reshuffle also saw Gavin Williamson lose his job as education secretary after overseeing the exams fiasco during the pandemic as he was replaced by vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

In a tweet on Thursday, Mr Zahawi said: "Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome. It’s been great to speak to so many of you who play a crucial role expanding opportunities and improving outcomes for our young people."

Leading Tory MP Michael Gove has been tasked with housing, communities and local government, pushing Robert Jenrick onto the backbenches.

Party co-chair Amanda Milling was also ousted just weeks before the Conservative Party’s annual conference, as was Robert Buckland from his justice secretary role.

Stephen Barclay has taken Mr Gove’s role as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office minister.

Simon Clarke, who left his former ministerial role for "personal reasons", was appointed chief secretary to the Treasury.

And bestselling author and former I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! star Nadine Dorries was promoted to culture secretary, moving Oliver Dowden to Conservative Party co-chair and cabinet minister without portfolio.

Making her first appearance in the new role in the Commons on Thursday morning, Ms Dorries thanked colleagues for the "warm welcome".

Those Conservative MPs congratulating Ms Dorries on her appointment included former cabinet minister David Davis, who told the Commons: "Her appointment shows you don’t need to be a boring conformist to get on in this world."

Posting on social media later on Thursday, Ms Dorries said: "Excited to be appointed secretary of state at DCMS.

"Hit the ground running this morning with my first oral questions and getting stuck into [the] job at hand! Looking forward to building on [the] work of Oliver Dowden and championing our unrivalled arts, sports, media and digital sectors."

Elsewhere on Thursday morning, John Whittingdale confirmed to Sky News that he is no longer in post as media minister. He was not on the government’s front bench in the Commons during culture questions.

Number 10 later confirmed that former housing minister Luke Hall, former culture minister Caroline Dinenage, former work and pensions minister Justin Tomlinson and former financial secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman have all lost their ministerial positions.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the prime minister’s official spokesperson confirmed the plan is for the reshuffle to be completed within the day.

Reacting to his change of role, Mr Raab said he was "delighted" at being appointed justice secretary and looked forward to "delivering on the prime minister’s commitment to cut crime, reduce reoffending and protect the public".

The PM’s spokesperson told reporters that Mr Raab’s role as deputy PM "demonstrates his seniority in government" and that he will stand in at PMQs when needed.

It is believed Mr Raab will lead PMQs next Wednesday when the PM will be away attending the UN General Assembly in New York.

Asked if the former foreign secretary had asked for the additional role of deputy PM, the PM’s spokesperson said he would not be "going into it" but that the position of first secretary of state "has been abolished".

In a Twitter post on Wednesday afternoon in which he revealed his departure from the cabinet, Mr Williamson said it had "been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019" and that he was "particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in post-16 education".

Former justice secretary Mr Buckland also posted a letter he had sent to the PM on Twitter to confirm his departure from cabinet.

He said he was looking to "the next adventure" and that he was "deeply proud of everything I have achieved" after serving in government for the past seven years.

In his departure letter, Mr Buckland noted that "years of underfunding" had not helped the legal system recover from the backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to Mr Buckland’s letter on Thursday, the PM thanked the former justice secretary for his "huge contribution" to the government", adding: "You can also be particularly proud of your work to tackle violence against women and girls and to ensure that the voice and experience of victims of crime are at the heart of the criminal justice system."

Opposition MPs, including Mother of the House of Commons Harriet Harman, thanked Mr Buckland for his work on the Domestic Abuse Bill which became law earlier this year.

Mr Jenrick, who last year was at the centre of a row over planning approval granted to a Conservative donor, tweeted that it had been a "huge privilege" to have led the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

"Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved," he added.

"I will continue to support the prime minister and the government in every way I can."

Elsewhere, Greg Hands moved from international trade minister to business minister, Kemi Badenoch is now both a housing minister and foreign office minister and Nick Gibb – who has held the schools brief as both minister and shadow minister for well over a decade – was removed from his post.

The position of schools minister, seen as a very important role due to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on education, is yet to be filled.

Reacting to his removal from cabinet, Mr Gibb tweeted: "Congratulations to Nadhim Zahawi who will do a superb job in building on the reforms of the last 10 years.

"I am sad not to be continuing as schools minister. It has been a privilege to play a part in helping improve the life chances of the next generation."

Newly appointed chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke tweeted on Thursday: "A great first day underway as chief secretary to the Treasury. Looking forward to delivering more of our Plan for Jobs and the people’s priorities through the Spending Review and Autumn Budget."

Attorney General Suella Braverman kept her role in the reshuffle, and on Thursday morning – in her first Commons appearance since returning from maternity leave – thanked officials for allowing her to spend "precious time with my new baby".

Confirmation that Mr Johnson would hold a widely anticipated reshuffle of his ministers came during Wednesday’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions.

A Number 10 source said Mr Johnson would look to "put in place a strong and united team" to help the country recover from the COVID pandemic.

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