Tory reshuffle: can May’s young guns save the party?

Focus on junior positions following PM’s ‘shambolic’ handling of senior ministers

Employment Minister Alok Sharma leaves 10 Downing Street today
(Image credit: Photo credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Theresa May’s attention turned to appointing junior ministers today, with the Tories hoping to shift the focus to the party’s rising stars and away from Monday’s “shambolic” cabinet reshuffle.

Dominic Raab gets the housing portfolio, which will have more prominence in the newly named Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, according to The Guardian. Alok Sharma becomes Minister of State for Employment - a role bestowed largely in recognition of his work in the aftermath of the Grenfell tower block fire in London, The Times says.

Following his botched appointment of Toby Young to the Office for Students, Jo Johnson - Boris Johnson’s younger brother - was removed from the universities brief and installed in transport. Sam Gyimah becomes Minister for Higher Education, Rory Stewart is Minister of State at the Justice Department, and both Caroline Dinenage and Stephen Barclay become health ministers. Margot James goes to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Harriett Baldwin becomes Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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May axed four ministers, The Daily Telegraph says, including former international trade minister Mark Garnier, who lost his job after admitting he asked his secretary to buy sex toys.

No. 10 told Sky News that May has no plans to appoint a minister charged with planning for a no-deal Brexit, contrary to media reports.

The day of junior appointments follows May’s disastrous cabinet reshuffle - criticised as a “shambolic” failure by The Times and others. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt flatly refused to change jobs, and former education secretary Justine Greening quit for the backbenches rather than switch portfolios. A government source described Monday’s events as “the night of the blunt stiletto”.

May appointed Damian Hinds to replace Greening, and backed away from shifting senior ministers such as Foreign Secretary Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

“Downing Street dared not move ministers for fear that the whole house would come crashing down,” says the New Statesman’s George Eaton. “The result leaves Mrs May with a serious headache as the majority of those to be handed promotions were white, middle-aged men,” iNews adds.

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