Boris Johnson to put NHS spending vow into law as he eyes major Cabinet shake-up

Posted On: 
15th December 2019

Boris Johnson will put his NHS spending pledges into law next week in a bid to cement support among voters who switched their backing from Labour to the Conservatives at the election.

The Prime Minister has vowed to lift NHS spending to £33.9bn by 2023-24.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister, who was handed an 80-seat majority after the party ate into Labour's traditional heartlands, will use the Queen's Speech on Thursday to put his plan to boost NHS spending on the statute book.

The move will guarantee the Prime Minister's pledge to increase NHS spending by £33.9bn by 2023-24, and mark the first time a government has made a multi-year spending commitment legally binding.

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The Sunday Times also reports that the Prime Minister is drawing up plans for a radical overhaul of both the Cabinet and civil service as he puts the Tories' new majority to work.

Up to a third of the existing Cabinet now face the sack in a February clear-out, according to the paper, while a raft of Whitehall departments could be closed or merged in a cross-government shake-up.

A senior figure told the paper: "It will be pretty big. It will be finding the people who can do the jobs and not worry about media and short-term things. We’re drawing up a very detailed and very revolutionary plan and then we are going to implement it."

The Sunday Times reports that the Prime Minister will abolish the Department for Exiting the European Union on 31 January, while the Department fo International Trade will be merged with the Department for Business, which will lose its energy brief to a new ministry.

The Foreign Office and the Department or International Trade are also set to be merged, while the Mail on Sunday reports that Michel Gove is being teed up for a new super-department which will head up trade talks with both the United States and the European Union.

Elsewhere, The Sunday Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister is mulling a change to the the civil service's hire-and-fire rules, a longstanding bugbear of his top adviser Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings has previously said "almost no one is ever fired" in Whitehall, and called for a scrapping of departmental heads known as permanent secretaries. He has also backed plans for an 'office of the prime minister' to strengthen Number 10's grip on officials.

Mr Johnson on Saturday used a trip to Sedgefield, the seat formerly held by Tony Blair and which switched to the Tories this time around, to pitch his new government as "servants" of the country.

"When we get down to Westminster and we begin our work, remember we are not the masters, we are the servants now," he said. 

"Our job is to serve the people of this country."