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Sun, 24 January 2021

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By Alice Lilly
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Michael Gove makes shock return to Cabinet in Theresa May's post-election reshuffle

Michael Gove makes shock return to Cabinet in Theresa May's post-election reshuffle

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Michael Gove made a dramatic return to Cabinet today after he was made Environment Secretary in Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle.

In a shake-up that saw few major changes, the Prime Minister also promoted Damian Green to her effective second in command and demoted Liz Truss from the justice brief.

Mrs May is trying to shore up support after the Conservatives’ humiliating result in the snap general election on Thursday, when they lost 12 seats and their Commons majority.

Former education and justice secretary Mr Gove had been moved to the backbenches in Mrs May’s first reshuffle after his betrayal of Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race last year.

But after a period of loyalty to Mrs May he was today restored to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

George Freeman, who heads up Mrs May's policy unit, commended the move on Twitter.

Mr Green was made First Secretary of State in a move in a sign the Prime Minister is willing to water down her plans for a hard Brexit.

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.

Elsewhere, Ms Truss was moved 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.

And Andrea Leadsom was promoted from the environment brief to Leader of the Commons – a tough job guiding legislation through the House with such a slim working majority.

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

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. 

Mr Gove fell out of favour among many in the party when he launched a surprise leadership bid after the EU referendum last year.

He had previously promised to back Mr Johnson, but changed his mind at the last minute and prompted his former ally to pull out of the race.

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


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