Reshuffle: Theresa May promotes ally Damian Green to key role

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Damian Green is the big winner as Theresa May seeks to shore up her authority in a post-election reshuffle.

The work and pensions secretary – a friend and ally of the PM – has been made First Secretary of State, effectively her second in command.

Michael Gove, one of the driving forces of the Brexit campaign, returns to the front bench as environment secretary.

The previous incumbent, Andrea Leadsom, has been appointed as the leader of the House in the Commons.

Most other ministers have kept their roles – but Liz Truss is moved from justice to chief treasury secretary.

Commons leader David Liddington takes over as justice secretary and Lord Chancellor.

Chief Treasury Secretary David Gauke has been appointed work and pensions secretary.

Live: Reaction to Mrs May’s cabinet reshuffle

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Michael Gove was not given a Cabinet position when Mrs May assumed the role of PM last year

Mrs May had been expected to carry out a widespread reshuffle of her top team after Thursday’s general election but her room for manoeuvre has been limited by her failure to win an overall majority.

Most of the cabinet jobs remain unchanged:

  • Chancellor of the Exchequer – Philip Hammond
  • Secretary of State for the Home Department – Amber Rudd
  • Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Boris Johnson
  • Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis
  • Secretary of State for Defence – Michael Fallon
  • Health Secretary – Jeremy Hunt
  • Communities Secretary – Sajid Javid
  • Culture Secretary – Karen Bradley
  • International development – Priti Patel
  • Transport – Chris Grayling
  • Business – Greg Clark

Damian Green, who was previously work and pensions secretary and was at university with Mrs May, has also become minister for the Cabinet Office, a position left vacant by Ben Gummer, who lost his seat in Thursday’s general election.

The First Secretary of State is a role previously held by George Osborne and, under Labour, Peter Mandelson and could see Mr Green standing in for Theresa May at prime minister’s questions when she is not available.

The role is periodically used by UK governments and did not exist in Mrs May’s first cabinet, formed after she became prime minister in July last year.

It does not come with a government department but does give its holder seniority over other cabinet ministers and is seen as being similar to the role of deputy prime minister.

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Andrea Leadsom takes over from David Lidington

Boris Johnson said that while the public would be wondering about the future of the current government, Mrs May had got the biggest Conservative mandate anyone had achieved for decades.

“It’s absolutely right that she should go ahead, form a government and deliver on the priorities of the people.

“I’m going to be backing her, and absolutely everybody I’m talking to is going to be backing her as well.”

In the latest fallout from the general election result, which confounded pollsters and left the UK with a hung Parliament:

  • An influential Conservative MP predicted Tory manifesto policies including on grammar schools would have to be “slimmed down”
  • Mrs May was accused of putting her party interest above the Northern Ireland peace process with the planned DUP alliance
  • Jeremy Corbyn said he could still be PM and would try to amend the Queen’s Speech
  • Former Tory Chancellor George Osborne described Mrs May as a “dead woman walking”
  • Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Mrs May would have to adopt a more “collective” approach to making decisions
  • Pro-EU Conservatives predicted the outcome of the general election would change the government’s approach to Brexit

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Liz Truss was criticised for not standing up for judges involved in a Brexit court case

Liam Fox retains his position as international trade secretary – he told reporters he was “delighted” to be continuing in the role he has held since July last year.

Dr Fox told the BBC that Mrs May was in a “very positive” mood during her reshuffle conversations.

“It’s now time for the whole of the Conservative party to rally behind the prime minister and get a government in the national interest.

“I have absolute faith in the prime minister. She is the best person to take this country forward in terms of being able to give a government that is genuinely in our national interest, and I very much look forward to working with her.”

Dr Fox was one of the Cabinet’s “three Brexiteers” with David Davis and Boris Johnson, who have also kept their roles, as the government gears up for the start of talks with Brussels.

Liz Truss’s change of position will be seen by some as a demotion – she was widely criticised by the judiciary following the High Court ruling regarding the government seeking Parliament’s permission to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal start of the Brexit process.

The judges involved were heavily criticised by some newspapers, and Mrs Truss was in turn criticised for failing to stand up for them.

Justine Greening remains as education secretary – her opposition to Theresa May’s policy of expanding grammar schools might be less of an issue now, if, as some expect, the government is forced to drop it from the Queen’s Speech to prevent a backbench revolt.

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