Government reshuffle: Damian Green named Cabinet Office minister and first secretary of state

Written by Richard Johnstone on 12 June 2017 in News

Close ally of Theresa May will take on responsibility for civil service as ‘deputy prime minister in all but name’ while Michael Gove returns to government

Photo: PA

Prime minister Theresa May has named Damian Green as Cabinet Office minister in her post-election government reshuffle, and has also given the former work and pensions secretary the title of first secretary of state.

In the newly-expanded role, Green will take over from Ben Gummer, who was one of ten government frontbenchers to lose their seats in Thursday’s election.

As Cabinet Office minister, Green will inherit a number of proposed Whitehall reforms from Gummer, including the Government Transformation Strategy that is intended to put digital at the “heart of transformation” in Whitehall.

Gummer had said the strategy had four broad aims: to use digital government to deliver better public services; to harness the value of data for better policymaking; to ensure equality within the civil service; and to drive further efficiencies within the government, although how this will now be implemented is unclear. Gummer was also a co-author of the Conservative manifesto that pledged to move civil servants out of London and the South East.

Green is the third new minister for the Cabinet Office since 2015, with no minister matching the five-year tenure of Francis Maude. Serving from 2010 onwards, Maude oversaw the creation of the Government Digital Service and pushed for the end of multi-million pound legacy IT deals in Whitehall.

Green is the first holder of the Cabinet Office post to be named first secretary of state, a position used frequently in government and which is not dissimilar in responsibilities to deputy prime minister. Previous holders of the post include Michael Heseltine and John Prescott when both were deputy prime minister, while the most recent holder of the title was George Osborne from the 2015 general election until last July.

In other appointments made yesterday, former education secretary and prominent Brexiteer Michael Gove has returned to Cabinet to replace Andrea Leadsom as the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs – one of the departments set to be most affected by Brexit.

Elsewhere, Green is replaced as work and pensions secretary by David Gauke, whose previous job as chief secretary to the Treasury is taken by Liz Truss. David Lidington replaces Truss as justice secretary, while Leadsom moves to replace Lidington as leader of the House of Commons.

May had confirmed five other senior Cabinet posts on Friday evening, with chancellor Philip Hammond, home secretary Amber Rudd, foreign secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit secretary David Davis and defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon all staying in post.

Yesterday, the prime minister also announced several departmental secretaries would remain unchanged. These include health secretary Jeremy Hunt, education secretary Justine Greening, international trade secretary Lain Fox, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark, transport secretary Chris Grayling and local government secretary Sajid Javid.

The secretaries of state for Scotland, David Mundell, Wales, Alun Cairns, and Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, are also reconfirmed in post.

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @RichRJohnstone

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