John Aglionby Closed Live Blog: Government reshuffle

David Cameron has conducted the most wide-ranging reshuffle of his cabinet since taking office, appointing Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and firing Michael Gove as education secretary. Several women, including Nicky Morgan and Elizabeth Truss, have been appointed to the cabinet.

By John Aglionby and Claer Barrett

Hello and welcome to our live blog of the government reshuffle that is bigger than anyone expected – secrets can be kept in Downing Street after all.

The headlines so far:
Philip Hammond replaced William Hague as foreign secretary.
Michael Gove has been fired as education secretary. He becomes an enhanced chief whip
Nicky Morgan becomes education secretary, while keeping her roles for women and equalities.
Elizabeth Truss becomes environment secretary, replacing Owen Paterson.

Mr Cameron’s new intake have a strong corporate grounding. Mr Gove’s replacement, Nicky Morgan, is a former corporate lawyer, and had been tipped for a ministerial post since she first entered parliament in 2010.
The MP for Loughborough was made assistant whip in the 2012 cabinet reshuffle, later becoming City minister. In April, she became financial secretary to the Treasury, widening her remit to the EU, and was appointed minister for women following Maria Miller’s resignation. She has said she would support all-women shortlists to up the number of female Tory MPs if no progress is made at the next general election.

Beth Rigby, the FT’s chief political correspondent has heard that Michael Fallon, the business minister and energy minister, is replacing Hammond as defence minister.

Elizabeth Truss, who will replace Owen Patterson as environment secretary, will become the youngest ever female cabinet minister. Brought up in Yorkshire, the 38-year old MP for south west Norfolk also entered parliament at the 2010 election, and became education and childcare minister in the 2012 reshuffle.
Former deputy director of the think-tank Reform, Ms Truss campaigned for more rigorous academic standards in schools, and urgent action to deal with Britain’s failing competitiveness. A qualified management accountant, she has a corporate background and worked for Shell and Cable & Wireless earlier in her career.

Labour has not been shy about putting the boot into Michael Gove:

Labour MPs are amongst those pointing out how the new cabinet will have a very different hue:

Here’s how David Cameron explained Michael Gove’s new role:

Philip Hammond’s promotion means the UK now has a foreign secretary who has said he favours leaving the EU unless it agrees to renegotiate Britain’s membership, write George Parker and Mark Odell on
Click here to read the rest of their piece, which has just been published

The FT’s Beth Rigby gives her take on why Gove was moved:

Fallon’s appointment has been confirmed:

Another extract from George Parker’s piece:

“Mr Hammond’s promotion will be seen as a signal to the Tory right and to supporters of the populist anti-EU UK Independence Party that Mr Cameron recognises the need for a tough negotiation with Brussels and other European capitals in the months ahead.”

One Labour MP has given his take on the changes at Defra – Truss replacing Paterson:

Esther McVey has just sashayed into Number 10 Downing Street…. watch this space…

George Osborne has offered Nicky Morgan his congratulations:

Stephen Crabb has been appointed the new Welsh secretary, according to Sky News

Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, has commented on the appointment of Liz Truss as environment secretary:

“Owen Paterson has worked extremely hard as Secretary of State and has always had the interests of the countryside and rural communities clearly at heart, but the Alliance remains concerned that no matter who is environment secretary, fundamental issues within the department make this an almost impossible role.

“We wish Liz Truss all the best on her appointment and look forward to working with her. We hope that she, her colleagues in Government, and those in the Labour party will take the opportunity over the next 10 months to consider how the next government will deliver rural policy.”

The FT’s public policy correspondent Helen Warrell on what teachers might make of the reshuffle:

The head of Ofsted was live on LBC, a London radio station, when he heard that Michael Gove had been moved:

The FT’s political correspondent Jim Pickard on Michael Fallon’s appointment as defence secretary:

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, has speculated on why Tina Stowell was seen walking through the front door of 10 Downing Street:

The FT’s columnist Janan Ganesh opines on William Hague’s political career, from

“Has he changed the country in his quarter of a century in politics? Not really. But he has served it well enough. He has also shown that a politician can get somewhere near the very top of this pitiless game while retaining some humanity, and in fact gaining some. That defeat in 2001 helped to teach this political monomaniac – a teenage reader of Hansard, a student union plotter, an MP at 27 – what a small thing politics really is. Too many in Westminster have never had that epiphany.”

Click here to read Janan’s column

Esther McVey has been promoted – sort of. She keeps her current job but will now attend cabinet meetings:

Mary Bousted, the head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, tells Sky News her one piece of advice to new education secretary would be to “call a halt to the changes at GCSEs, AS and A level”. There’s been a ridiculous amount of change”, she says.

More from the FT’s deputy political editor, Beth Rigby:

Liz Truss, the new environment secretary, looking pleased as she leaves 10 Downing Street:


Helen Warrell, the FT’s public policy correspondent, on Michael Gove’s exit – could his public bust up with Theresa May have been a factor?

Mr Gove’s sacking is one of the major surprises of the reshuffle, especially since the former education secretary repeatedly said he wanted to stay in his post until the election and even expand his brief to take in universities. But while both the prime minister and Chancellor have praised Mr Gove’s school reforms, Downing Street more privately criticised his “erratic” behaviour during his public spat with Theresa May in June. This built on a recent history of damaging disputes with colleagues including David Laws, schools minister, and the chair of Ofsted, Sally Morgan. Mr Gove has a close friendship with the prime minister, and it was assumed that this gave him some protection during his inflammatory political rows. But the former education secretary’s interview with the Financial Times – in which he derided the number of Etonians in David Cameron’s inner cabinet as “preposterous” – prompted a furious encounter with Number Ten. In fact, Mr Gove’s increasingly unpredictable behaviour may have given Downing Street the excuse it needed to bring in a new secretary of state of education to help bring teachers back on side ahead of the election. Battling between the profession and the Department for Education intensified after Mr Gove started using phrases such as “the Blob” and “enemies of promise” to describe teachers who opposed his more demanding curricula or exam structures. Nicky Morgan, who is less fiercely ideological than her predecessor, will be called upon to help return at least some teachers – an important constituency of floating voters – to the Tory fold before May 2015.

William Hague has been talking about his decision to step down as foreign secretary. He told Sky News:

“There’s a balance to strike in government between the value of experience and the need for renewal. It’s been nearly 20 years since I first joined the cabinet. We’ve got some really talented people coming to the fore so let’s give them their opportunity.

“I really want to use this last year in the political front line to help David Cameron.

“I want to return to my writing. I’ve loved writing books in the past.”

And as to what he’s going to do now:

“Spend more time with my family and friends and campaign for causes I believe in, like stopping sexual violence against women and the illegal wildlife trade.”

And as for what he sees as his greatest achievements, they’re passing the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 and restoring the Foreign Office as a “strong and confident institution”.


The reshuffle by Twitter continues: David Cameron has nominated Lord Jonathan Hill, the leader in the Lords, as his nomination to be a European commissioner:

This suggests that Baroness Tina Stowell will be the new Leader of the Lords.

Here’s a contented looking Philip Hammond this morning:

A great line from the BBC’s Norman Smith:

Stephen Crabb, who replaces David Jones as secretary of state for Wales, will be the first bearded Tory cabinet minister since 1905.

Peter Spiegel, the FT’s Brussels bureau chief has tweeted his take on the nomination of Lord Hill:

Labour MP has tweeted who he thinks is the real winner from this reshuffle:

Re Peter Spiegel’s tweet about Lord Hill, this is what people googling Lord Hill will find on Wikipedia – and we can’t vouch for its accuracy:

Jonathan Hopkin Hill, Baron Hill of Oareford, CBE PC (born 24 July 1960) is a British Conservative politician, formerly the Leader of the House of Lords. On 15 July 2014 it was announced that he will be nominated to be the UK’s EU Commissioner in the Juncker Commission.

Hill was educated at Highgate School, an independent school for boys in the Highgate area of North London, followed by Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, where he read History.

Hill worked in the Conservative Research Department in 1985-6, before serving as special advisor to Kenneth Clarke at the Department of Employment, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Health until 1989. After working for Lowe Bell Communications 1989-91, he worked at the Number 10 Policy Unit 1991-2 and served as political secretary to Prime Minister John Major 1992-4. He was awarded a CBE in the 1995 New Year’s Honours.[1]

Subsequently, Hill worked as senior consultant at Bell Pottinger Group 1994-8, before becoming a founding director of Quiller Consultants in the latter year.

On 27 May 2010, he was created a life peer as Baron Hill of Oareford, of Oareford in the County of Somerset,[2] and he was introduced in the House of Lords on the same day, taking up the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools at the Department for Education.[3]

After the resignation of Lord Strathclyde as Leader of the House of Lords, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords in January 2013, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, appointed Lord Hill as his successor.[5]

In 1988 Hill married Alexandra Jane Nettelfield, daughter of John Nettelfield MC. They have a son and two daughters.

More from Mark Odell, our colleague on the Live Desk, on Lord Hill:

David Cameron confirms why Baroness Stowell was knocking on the front door of 10 Downing Street today:

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the NUT, has commented to the BBC about the changing of the guard at the department for education:

The Labour Party uses an interview Lord Hill gave to Conservative Home less than three weeks ago to comment on his nomination as a European commissioner:

Jeremy Wright was the junior justice minister – responsible for prisons. He’s a barrister by training

So to recap, other than Ken Clarke, the other cabinet members who appear to be out of government altogether are Andrew Lansley, Owen Paterson and David Jones.

More on Lord Hill… he penned a political memoir in 1996 with Sarah Hogg, a fellow advisor to John Major, entitled “Too Close to Call” charting the political setbacks and successes of the period leading up to Major’s general election victory in 1992.

Now out of print, second hand copies are being snapped up on Amazon for as little as £1.77 including postage… only has two reviews, one rating it as a five star read, the other sums it up as “a bit boring really”.

FT’s chief political correspondent Jim Pickard writes on Michael Fallon’s appointment as the new defence secretary:

His appointment in the cabinet reshuffle is at odds with the broad sense of Mr Cameron ridding his top team of “pale, male” older figures. For the past year Mr Fallon has unusually balanced two ministerial roles underneath Lib Dem secretaries of state: as both business minister under Vince Cable and as energy minister under Ed Davey. Even from his relatively junior position he still stamped his mark on both departments, for example by championing fracking in a more enthusiastic manner than Mr Davey. The Sevenoaks MP, co-founder of the Thatcherite group No Turning Back, is one of Westminster’s most canny survivors. He was an opponent of gay marriage, set up a grammar school in his constituency, and wore black tie on the 10th anniversary of Baroness Thatcher’s resignation. He was MP for Darlington from 1983 to 1992, before leaving to work in the private sector for five years. In 1998 he was briefly trade and industry spokesman, only to moved after six months. In 2010 he was disappointed once again as he lost out to Andrew Tyrie to become chair of the Treasury select committee. Yet Mr Cameron appointed him deputy party leader with a roving role dealing with the press and with relations between backbenchers and Downing Street. That won him the half-serious title of “Minister for the Today programme” in recognition of his firefighting role. In 2012 he was elevated to the business department alongside Mr Cable, dubbed by rightwing Tory wags as the “anti-business secretary”.

Robert Shrimsley, the managing editor of, is pleased about Tina Stowell’s appointment:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage does not seem to be quaking in his boots about Lord Hill’s nomination as a European commisisoner:

Denis McShane, the former Labour Europe minister, tries to answer Nigel Farage’s question:

Peter Spiegel, the FT’s Brussels bureau chief, reports on the reaction in the heart of the EU to Lord Hill’s nomination:

In Brussels, where the nomination of Jonathan Hill to be Britain’s next European Commissioner was met with much head-scratching — he was not among the half-dozen names circulating in EU circles beforehand — British officials are selling him as a cross-party consensus builder who can reach out to the new European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

British officials note that Lord Hill, who leads the Tories in the House of Lords, needs to build coalitions in the Lords to move legislation because the Conservatives don’t have a majority there, a skill they think will serve him well in Brussels, where David Cameron will need a “new settlement” ahead of his planned 2017 referendum on EU membership.

And, to help Nigel Farage a bit more, here’s a photo of Lord Hill:

More on Stephen Crabb’s beard from Peter Mannion MP:

Mark Harper’s appointment is a return to government for him. He resigned as immigration minister in February 2014 after learning his cleaner was an illegal immigrant.

Commenting on the nomination of Lord Hill as Britain’s EU commissioner, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and chair of CEEMET, the organisation representing European manufacturing in Brussels, said:

“Lord Hill’s nomination is a positive and diplomatic move. It is essential that he secures a key economic portfolio on behalf of the UK so that he can bring some rigour to economic reform and industrial revival in Brussels, with a focus on further trade deals and supportive and flexible social policies.

He will also hopefully tone down the unhelpful noise that has been generated around Britain’s potential exit. The job in Brussels is all about driving growth and improving economic security across the EU – with a view to keeping Britain in membership.”

David Cameron has said that as part of his portfolio Mike Penning will have responsibility for the police.

The Press Association has filed the following on the shake-up in Whitehall that’s happening in tandem with the government reshuffle:

David Cameron is shaking up the most senior posts in the Civil Service with the creation of a new chief executive to lead the Government’s programme of reform in Whitehall, Downing Street has announced.

The change comes as Sir Bob Kerslake announced his plan to step down as head of the home civil service in the autumn and to retire as permanent secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2015.

The role of head of the home civil service will be handed to Downing Street’s top official, Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, and the new chief executive will report to him once appointed.

The move tears up reforms introduced by Mr Cameron in 2011, when he split the roles of Cabinet Secretary, head of the Home Civil Service and permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office on the retirement of Sir Gus O’Donnell – now Lord O’Donnell – but Downing Street rejected suggestions that it was a mark that the previous changes had failed.

The new chief executive will also be permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, while the current occupant of the role, Richard Heaton, will remain first parliamentary counsel.

Joshua Chaffin, the FT’s deputy world news editor and a former Brussels correspondent, has unearthed this on Lord Hill:

From The House – Feb 2014

Jonathan Hill likes to live in the moment. “I’m not very good at thinking long term ahead or particularly looking backwards,” he says, as he sits back in an armchair, sipping tea in a spacious office suite befitting the Leader of the House of Lords…

A former backroom boy who is now very much on the frontline, the noble Lord says he first fell into politics almost by accident. Having graduated from Cambridge in the early 1980s, he had ‘quite a few false starts’. He started a PhD in Russian history before realising its five-year timetable wasn’t for him. ‘I wasn’t quite that single-minded so I jacked that in,” he says. He took a job as a barman, then went to work for Jacob Rothschild, “didn’t really fancy the City”, went back to working as a barman and then briefly tried his hand at publishing…

As for giving up, what about the allegedly apocryphal story about Hill’s own ‘botched resignation’ from Government? Does he want to finally kill off claims that he offered to quit in July 2012, only for David Cameron to mishear him and renew him in post?

“It’s a very kind offer to kill it,” he laughs. “What you mean is ‘do I want to breathe new life into this story which I had been hoping would die a natural death?’” But was the story true or not? “It isn’t true. The fact is that there were a number of things going on. I have a view that if the Prime Minister of your country asks you to do something, you have to have quite a good reason not to do something. Equally, I’m not wedded to doing a particular job for ever and ever and ever. Unlike my colleagues, for whom I have great admiration that they’ve done it, I haven’t spent 25 years clambering my way up the pole and therefore being understandably keen not to fall off it. So I’m probably more relaxed than most about what I do. I had a life before, I’ll have a life afterwards. There are all sorts of things I’m interested in.

“The particular way the story came across was not true. The Prime Minister behaved, as you would expect, totally properly. We had a totally polite and courteous conversation where I said: ‘Is there something else you want me to do? Would you like to have this job for someone else? What do you want me to do?’ And he said would I carry on, which I did.

“That’s basically what happened. It came out in a much more entertaining fashion. I am I suppose glad to have played my small part in the jollification of the nation. If I hadn’t stayed on I wouldn’t be doing this!”

David Cameron has clarified Nick Boles’s portfolio. Helen Warrell, FT public policy correspondent, notes that it is “very odd” for the equal marriage act to be implemented by a business minister, but adds that Boles is gay.

Here’s the view of FT editor Lionel Barber on the reshuffle:

The FT’s deputy political editor Beth Rigby wonders if David Cameron’s women-in-government-meter has hit his desired 30 per cent mark….

The government’s website has now been updated and David Cameron might need a bigger cabinet table.

There are now 22 cabinet ministers and 11 others in the category “also attends cabinet”. Eight of the 33 are women – or 24 per cent.

The women are:

Cabinet ministers:
Theresa May, home secretary,
Justine Greening, international development secretary
Nicky Morgan, education secretary
Elizabeth Truss, environment secretary
Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland secretary,

Also attends cabinet:
Esther McVey, employment minister
Baroness Warsi, senior minister of state
Baroness Stowell, leader of the Lords

Sarah Neville, the FT’s public policy editor, writes on today’s tandem reshuffle in the civil service:

Downing Street said the recruitment process would begin “shortly” with an announcement likely by the autumn. The selection panel will be chaired by Sir David Normington, the first civil service Commissioner.

There is already speculation that a figure outside government with some business experience could be appointed to the role, and turn it into something more akin to a corporate chief executive. Once appointed, the new chief will report to Downing Street’s top official, Sir Jeremy Heywood, who has been handed the role of head of the home civil service and will retain his current role as cabinet secretary.

The prime minister’s spokesperson denied that the latest shake up – the second in three years – signalled the failure of previous reforms. “We have seen a number of evolutions in this in recent years, such as non-executive directors, the establishment of the Major Projects Authority and significant reforms in the professionalisation of the civil service,” the spokesman said. “This is the latest step in that work.”

Friends of the Earth, a campaigning group, has issued a press release advising Elizabeth Truss, the new environment secretary, on her new role:

“Her priorities must include protecting households from the impacts of climate change, increasing flood defence investment, delivering a brilliant Bee Action Plan, and restoring nature across the UK.

“Above all, we hope she will mark a clean break with Owen Paterson by listening to science and striving for evidence-based decision making.”

Labour tweets about the perceived rightward shift of the government:

David Cameron informed Jean-Claude Juncker, the new European Commission president, that he was nominating Lord Hill in a phone conversation last night. The prime minister explained his decision in a statement today, saying the former education minister would provide an “excellent combination of political and private sector experience”.

“Half his career has been spent in business, half in government at the highest levels, most recently doing an excellent job as leader of the House of Lords where he has proven a skilled negotiator respected by all parties.

“And having founded his own company, he also has a strong understanding of the private sector and how the EU can help businesses to generate growth and create jobs.”

Lord Hill said he believed the UK should play “a leading role in the EU”.

“The European Union faces two great challenges. First, how to spread growth and jobs across Europe. Second, how to strengthen public support in many countries for the European Union.

“The European Commission will have a vital role to play in delivering that change. So it’s a huge responsibility to have the opportunity to play a part in reforming the EU but it is one that I am excited to have been offered. I look forward to working with Jean-Claude Juncker, other member states and the European Parliament to achieve this change.

“I also believe that the UK’s interests are best served by playing a leading role in the EU, shaping the organisation as it changes to meet the challenges it now faces.

“In five years’ time, when the next European elections take place, I want to be able to say to people across Europe – including Britain – that the European Commission has heeded their concerns and changed the EU for the better.”

The FT’s Helen Warrell has found this Buzzfeed compilation of teacher reaction to Michael Gove’s move from the department for education:

Something to watch over lunch: see Robert Shrimsley, managing editor of, debating the reshuffle with FT political columnist Janan Ganesh via the link below:…olitical-reshuffle

From the video: Janan Ganesh describes today’s events as the “most dramatic, most politicised and most electoral” of all reshuffles. Robert Shrimsley asks if it is a case of “people you’ve never heard of being replaced by people you’ve never heard of.”…olitical-reshuffle

Andrew Bounds, the FT’s northern England correspondent, notes that David Cameron has sought to address his “northern problem” as much as his “women problem”.

“There will be more people with northern roots round the cabinet table as the Tories look to hang on to vital marginals and win others.

Yorkshire born William Hague and Eric Pickles remain for now. Elizabeth Truss, education secretary, is from Leeds. Esther McVey, who will attend cabinet, is Liverpudlian and holds a rare northern seat on the Wirral. Chester-raised Matt Hancock will also attend cabinet.

Culture secretary Saj Javid was born in Rochdale but moved to Bristol as a child.

Northern city leaders will welcome the elevation of Greg Clark, the Middlesbrough-born cities minister, who takes on universities and science too. Could he divert some research spending from the Oxbridge/London golden triangle to cities such as Manchester and Nottingham?

And just in case you weren’t sure what the reshuffle has been all about, here’s David Cameron’s explanation:

Dr Liam Fox, who was widely tipped to be given a role in today’s reshuffle, has confirmed in a statement that he turned down the opportunity:

“I was honoured to be offered a post as Minister of State in the Foreign Office by the Prime Minister. I have turned it down. The issues that matter most to me and my constituents in North Somerset are the economy, immigration and Europe. I do not want to be distracted from what needs to be said on these matters at such an important time politically and look forward to discussing them from the backbenches in the lead up to the General Election.”

Just in case you were wondering about Eric Pickles’ fate, the communities and local government secretary has tweeted that he’s not going anywhere:

Labour is not at all convinced by former defence secretary Liam Fox’s explanation for why he turned down the opportunity to rejoin the government as a more junior minister:

Departing attorney general Dominic Grieve has told the BBC’s World at One that he is “sad” to be leaving his post after four years, and would have happily stayed on in the job. This was his response when asked about his advocacy for the European Convention on Human Rights:

“You only have to open a newspaper to see that there is a public perception that the convention and its application with the Human Rights Act prevents British governments from doing things that they ought to be doing to protect the public,” he said.

“Occasionally I think the European Court of Human Rights gets it badly wrong, such as over prisoner voting.

“But there is a point that the UK is at the heart of an international system of law. I think there are 13,200 treaties that we have signed since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

“Whilst we can pull out very easily from the European Convention on Human Rights if we wanted to, there would be serious reputational issues if we were to do it.

“You only have to look at some of the problems that we have in Europe at the moment to see that if we send out a sign that human rights don’t matter, that is likely to be picked up in other countries that are also signatory states, such as Russia.”

Philip Hammond, the new foreign secretary, has just been on Sky news, saying:

“My job is to ensure that we get a successful renegotiation [of the UK's relationship with the EU] with our European partners… that is in our national interest.”

As to how he might approach the negotiations with the other 27 members of the EU, Mr Hammond said:

“I’m going into these negotiations with a positive frame of mind and thinking that it will be possible to secure meaningful change.”

On that note we’re going to call it a day. Thank you for following, and for continuing coverage, follow