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Sun, 24 January 2021

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Damian Green promoted in Theresa May's reshuffle in hint her Brexit stance will be softened

Damian Green promoted in Theresa May's reshuffle in hint her Brexit stance will be softened

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Damian Green has been handed a major promotion in Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle in a sign the Prime Minister is willing to water down her plans for a hard Brexit.

The new First Secretary of State – essentially a second in command role – is a long-term ally of Mrs May and considered one of the most staunchly pro-EU members of the Cabinet.

Elsewhere, Liz Truss was demoted from Justice Secretary to Chief Secretary to the Treasury after a difficult period as Lord Chancellor in which she clashed repeatedly with the judiciary.

David Lidington and David Gauke were also handed promotions to Justice Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary respectively.

A former minister said the changes would ensure the type of Brexit the UK will pursue is "up for much more discussion".

Mrs May is trying to shore up support after her humiliating result on Thursday at the hands of the electorate. She lost 12 seats and with them her Commons majority in the snap general election she called.

The Prime Minister has faced harsh criticism and calls to quit in the wake of the vote – and what would have been a victory reshuffle has become a cautious tweaking to her top team.

She was forced to sack her two top advisors in a signal she is willing to govern with a more consensual approach - something she was accused of failing to do before.

Most of the posts have remained the same but a few key changes have been made – most significantly the promotion for Mr Green from the Work and Pensions Secretary brief.

In October last year a report emerged that he was among a number of Cabinet ministers who had aligned with Chancellor Philip Hammond to caution Mrs May against a hard Brexit.

The Prime Minister has insisted the UK must quit the European single market and argued “no deal is better than a bad deal” – meaning Britain could crash out on World Trade rules.

But the election result, which has weakened her hand in the Brexit negotiations, means she will most likely be forced to water down her hard stance.


Alistair Burt, who served as a health minister until Mrs May's first reshuffle, today said the promotion of Mr Green would "give the government a good tone".

"If the Prime Minister was wanting to demonstrate a degree of consensus and feel for the nation Damian is a good choice," he told Sky News.

He said he thought the final Brexit deal would be softer after Friday's result, and added: "The Brexit issue is settled in terms of leaving but the type of Brexit is now up for much more discussion and she has to lead that...

"I think the sense now is that people want to see a much more consensual approach to how we leave and I think the Prime Minister will acknowledge that."

Meanwhile Liam Fox - who kept his International Trade brief in the reshuffle - told Sky News today: "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."

It was announced yesterday that Mr Hammond, David Davis, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson would keep their jobs as Chancellor, Brexit Secretary, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively. 

See PoliticsHome's spreadsheet showing every ministerial position announced today:

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