Jacob Rees-Mogg Moved To New Brexit Role In Boris Johnson’s Post-Partygate Cabinet Reshuffle
Boris Johnson is expected to make changes to his ministerial team today amid the ongoing fallout from the partygate row (Alamy)
Jacob Rees-Mogg has been moved to a new Brexit role as part of Boris Johnson's mini Cabinet reshuffle as he continues with attempts to repair the damage to his administration caused by the partygate row.
Following last week's publication of Sue Gray’s update into the Downing Street gatherings during the coronavirus lockdown, the Prime Minister said that he would make changes to the Number 10 personnel.
After a wave of senior Number 10 resignations last week, Johnson is working to update his ministerial team this afternoon with a small number of hirings and firings.
The first announcement was that Rees-Mogg, the current leader of the Commons, is to be the new minister of state “for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency” in the Cabinet Office.
Downing Street confirmed he will also be a member of the Cabinet.
His replacement as Commons leader is the former chief whip Mark Spencer, after it was widely expected he would be moved out of the role amid criticism from backbench MPs over the handling of the government's response to partygate.
The popular MP Chris Heaton-Harris, who was only appointed Europe minister in the last reshuffle in December, becomes the new chief whip.
There is further change in the Whips' Office as Spencer's deputy Stuart Andrew moves to the department for levelling up and becomes the 11th housing minister since 2010, taking over from Chris Pincher.
The Paymaster General Michael Ellis is becoming the minister for the Cabinet Office, in addition to his current role, and will attend Cabinet.
This change comes after current Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay was appointed Downing Street chief of staff at the weekend.
Number 10 said to expect some of his existing ministerial responsibilities to be transferred to other ministers in his department, but it appears he will retain the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster title.
Heather Wheeler, currently an assistant whip, will take on part of Barclay's former role after being made a Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office in addition to her current position.
James Cleverly moves from being minister for the Middle East and North Africa in the foriegn office to take Heaton-Harris' Europe brief.
Further announcements are expected later this afternoon, though it is unlikely there will be a shake-up among the senior Cabinet roles.
So far there have been no sackings from government announced, with the reshuffle concentrating moving existing ministers around departments.
Today's events are against the backdrop of last week's upheaval in Number 10, which begun when Munira Mirza stood down as head of the Downing Street policy unit over the Prime Minister’s discredited claims that Keir Starmer had failed to prosecute the peadophile Jimmy Savile.
Mirza's announcement was swiftly followed by the departures on Thursday evening of director of communications Jack Doyle, Johnson’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, and chief of staff Dan Rosenfield.
The trio had all been expected to exit Downing Street after being implicated to varying degrees in the party allegations, though it is understood their departures were accelerated by Mirza’s surprise resignation.
A fifth person also quit on Friday morning, the special adviser on women and equalities Elena Narozanski, and yesterday it was confirmed senior advisor Henry Newman, a key ally of Carrie Johnson, was leaving Number 10 to work for his old boss Michael Gove.
Mirza was replaced at the weekend by the MP Andrew Griffith, while Barclay is taking on the chief of staff role and will also be responsible for creating the new office of the Prime Minister.
Johnson also hired his ex-spokesperson from his days as the Mayor of London, the former journalist Guto Harri, to be his new director of communications.
On his first day in the job on Monday, Harri insisted to journalists that Johnson is "not a complete clown".
The principal private secretary role is yet to be filled, and a new permanent secretary to the office of Prime Minister will also be appointed in due course.
Johnson claimed the changes to some of his key advisors previously announced would “improve how Number 10 operates, strengthen the role of my Cabinet and backbench colleagues, and accelerate our defining mission to level up the country”.
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