Reshuffle: Tories care more about “jobs for mates” than UC, says Labour

Labour has criticised Tory “warped priorities” as Boris Johnson this afternoon embarked on a reshuffle of his cabinet ministers while MPs prepared to debate an opposition day motion calling for the Universal Credit cut to be abandoned.

A spokesperson for the Labour Party said today: “They have a chance to cancel the cut to Universal Credit that will affect millions of families across the country. Instead, once again, they are more concerned about jobs for their mates.”

This liveblog is now closed. It was a big reshuffle, but the cabinet is still full of Tories.

18.40 – Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, has congratulated Oliver Dowden on his appointment as the new Tory chair, replacing Amanda Milling. “You’re starting with a full postbag! I’m looking forward to quite a few replies,” Dodds tweets, with a link to the unanswered letters she has recently sent Milling.

18.05Dominic Raab is not only the new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. He has also bagged himself the role of Deputy Prime Minister (instead of First Secretary of State).

17.44 – Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary, reacts to Liz Truss becoming her opposite number: “Congratulations to @trussliz on her appointment as Foreign Secretary – the second woman in history to hold the role. After the worst foreign policy crisis in a generation, I wish her well in tackling the enormous challenges the U.K. now faces.”

17.40Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the new Secretary of State for International Trade, replacing Liz Truss who has been promoted to Foreign Secretary. AMT has been bumped up to cabinet level after serving as a business minister since the start of the year.

17.39 – Shadow minister Jess Phillips has expressed relief at the choice of Zahawi for education, tweeting: “He wouldn’t be my choice obviously, but I genuinely feel relieved for the children of Birmingham including my own at this appointment. Nadhim is competent and easy to work with and anyone would have been an improvement to be fair.”

17.34 – Mark Wallace from ConservativeHome points out that the results of their monthly survey of party members have “so far proved a very good predictor of the reshuffle”. He’s got a point…

17.30Steve Barclay is Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

17.13 – A Labour motion to scrap the Universal Credit cut has passed as Conservative MPs were instructed by Downing Street to abstain. The motion is not binding on the government and Johnson has taken to ignoring opposition day debates such as this.

Labour has highlighted that the ministers sacked today will be given a £17,000 pay out. Jonathan Reynolds said: “That the government is giving pay-offs to those they do not deem competent enough to be in government while cutting the incomes of millions of people is an insult to hard working people.

“It is deeply regrettable that the Conservatives have chosen not to protect struggling families from the Prime Minister’s £1,000 a year cut. Labour is on the side of working families and will keep pushing for the government to see sense, listen to the House and cancel this cut.”

17.06 – Nadhim Zahawi has been made Education Secretary, moving from his position as vaccines minister. The promotion follows the sacking of former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this afternoon.

Zahawi is thought to have been rewarded with this promotion for his handling of the Covid vaccine roll-out over the past few months. He has previously served on the education team as a schools minister and is the first non-white Education Secretary.

16.50 – Mark Spencer will remain chief whip, Downing Street has confirmed.

16.48 – Nadine Dorries has replaced Dowden as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary. She has moved from her position as minister for mental health, suicide prevention and patient safety, which she has held since July 2019.

She has strong views on culture. Dorries tweeted in 2017: “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.”

16.46 – Oliver Dowden has been appointed as the replacement for Amanda Milling. He will no longer be the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary and will serve instead as the co-chair of the Conservative Party.

16.15 – Michael Gove has been appointed as the new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, replacing Jenrick. He leaves his position as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Gove will also take on a “cross-government responsibility for levelling up” and retains “ministerial responsibility for the union and elections”.

15.56 – Liz Truss has been confirmed as the new Foreign Secretary. She is replacing Dominic Raab, who has been moved to the position of Justice Secretary and is replacing outgoing minister Robert Buckland.

Truss has been promoted from her role as the International Trade Secretary. She will also remain in the post of minister for women and equalities.

15.46 – Priti Patel will remain the Secretary of State for the Home Office, Downing Street has revealed.

15.34 – Amanda Milling has been sacked as co-chair of the Tory Party, confirming her removal from the position on Twitter this afternoon: “It’s been a privilege and an honour to be the Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party.”

15.32 – Rishi Sunak is remaining as Chancellor, Downing Street has confirmed. There has been speculation of a rift between Sunak and Johnson, but the Chancellor was never seriously thought to be at risk of being moved.

15.23 – Dominic Raab has been removed from his position as Foreign Secretary. He will remain in the cabinet and now serve as the Justice Secretary, replacing outgoing Robert Buckland, and Deputy Prime Minister.

The move from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary is considered to be a demotion. He will retain the title of First Secretary of State, however, and is being made Deputy Prime Minister, which is arguably a promotion.

Very few people have actually held the formal title of Deputy Prime Minister. The last person to do so was the then Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, but this had especial significance because of the coalition arrangement with the Tories.

Raab came under particular pressure in recent weeks following the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan. His counterpart Lisa Nandy called for the minister to be sacked at the time for a “catastrophic failure of judgement”.

Raab had been accused of failing to call the Afghan foreign minster, Hanif Atmar, to ask for assistance to evacuate interpreters who worked for UK military personnel during the 20-year conflict as the Taliban advanced on the capital.

He also faced criticism for remaining on a family holiday in Crete until Monday while the Afghan government collapsed, despite warnings on the Friday that the Taliban would take the capital, and delegating tasks to junior ministers.

Commenting on his appointment as Justice Secretary, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “New Justice Secretary Dominic Raab wants to repeal laws that protect working people from bad bosses and abolish the minimum wage for under-21s.

“He wants to scrap workers’ rights and “doesn’t believe in” economic and social rights. The Tories are not the party of working people.”

Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “Has Boris fired and rehired Raab?”

15.15 – Downing Street has praised the outgoing ministers. A spokesperson said: “Robert Buckland has made a huge contribution to government as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, including making our streets safer through significant reforms to sentencing and tackling reoffending. The Prime Minister is grateful for his hard work and dedication.

“Robert Jenrick has led crucial work over the last two years, most importantly driving reforms to build more houses so home ownership becomes a reality for many more people. The Prime Minister is grateful for his drive and commitment.

“Gavin Williamson has played a key role in transforming the skills agenda as we create a high wage and high skilled economy, providing a lifetime skills guarantee for millions across the country. The Prime Minister is grateful for his loyalty and service.”

14.29 – Robert Jenrick has indicated that he is no longer the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, tweeting: “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.”

The former minister faced major questions last year following his decision to approve a controversial planning application for a Tory donor’s £1bn housing development, against the advice of the government’s planning inspectorate.

Jenrick overruled officials to approve the scheme, planned by Richard Desmond, just hours before the deadline for a new community levy would have cost the developer around £40m. It later emerged that Jenrick had met Desmond at a party fundraiser and exchanged text messages in relation to the project beforehand.

Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed said at the time that the Prime Minister “should have sacked” Jenrick over the ‘cash-for-favours’ planning scandal, describing the Conservative MP as an “absolute disaster” in his ministerial role.

14.04 – Robert Buckland has confirmed on Twitter that he is leaving the government, ending his tenure as Justice Secretary for the last two years and his seven years on the government frontbenches.

“Appointing a failed Foreign Secretary who was fired for being missing in action to be the sixth Justice Secretary in six years shows how little this government cares about victims of crime. Under this government, the Crown Court backlog has reached a record-high, while the number of rape convictions are at a record-low,” David Lammy said.

“Victims need a Justice Secretary who is capable of fixing the courts crisis the government created, not one who has been open about his opposition to the fundamental rights and freedoms that the public depends on.”

Other Labour figues praised the outgoing minister. Shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding Jess Phillips MP tweeted: “The pace and depth I could critique but no doubt Buckland cared and wanted to see changes that worked.”

Shadow minister for the police and fire services Sarah Jones MP said Buckland is “too decent to be in this cabinet” while human rights select committee chair Harriet Harman MP thanked him for “the important changes you made on domestic violence & sex violence against women”.

13.42 – Gavin Williamson was the first casualty of the reshuffle this afternoon. He confirmed via social media that he is no longer the Education Secretary, saying that he will be “continuing to support the Prime Minister and the government”.

It is thought that Williamson is now destined for the backbenches, although this has not been made explicit. He had reportedly been positioning for another role in the cabinet, such as Leader of the Commons or Northern Ireland Secretary.

“Gavin Williamson has failed children and young people, their parents and our hard working education staff throughout one of the most testing periods in our history. Two years of exams chaos and staff abandoned, unsupported and demoralised. That is Gavin Williamson’s legacy,” Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said.

“The Prime Minister has allowed this to happen, keeping a failing Education Secretary in post for months and refusing to fight for children’s futures.”

Williamson had been criticised over his time as Education Secretary for the handling of exams in the pandemic and the amount of school missed by children, and recently for confusing footballer Marcus Rashford with rugby player Maro Itoje.

Commenting on his leaving the cabinet, GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “We’ve had nothing but failing Education Secretaries under this government. Our kids deserve one that invests in children’s education and future.”

Angela Rayner tweeted: “It’s good that Gavin Williamson has been sacked but he should have been sacked over a year ago. That prat’s absolute idiocy, failures and uselessness have damaged the life chances of our country’s children and this government has failed young people, teachers & education staff.”

University and College Union general secretary Jo Grad said that the outgoing minister “will be remembered by university and college staff as a disastrous Secretary of State who caused deep and lasting damage”.

“Rather than responding to the challenges of a global pandemic, he led the charge in a completely pointless culture war against university staff and students. A culture war that was entirely fabricated and led to no positive change in the sector. Wasting such an inordinate amount of time just to satisfy the hardcore Tory base underlines just how little he really cares about education,” she added.

Asked last week whether Williamson was “up to the job” by shadow schools minister Peter Kyle last week, Johnson said the then Education Secretary had done a “heroic job”. Kyle tweeted today: “From Boris Johnson’s hero to zero in less than a week.”

This story will continue to be updated.

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