Reshuffle: Michael Ellis becomes Cabinet Office minister and Jacob Rees-Mogg takes on government efficiency

Moves follow Stephen Barclay’s appointment as No.10 chief of staff after raft of Downing Street resignations
Jacob Rees-Mogg is minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency. Photo: AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Michael Ellis has been named the new minister for the Cabinet Office and Jacob Rees-Mogg has become minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency in Boris Johnson's post-Partygate reshuffle.

Ellis has taken on some of Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay's brief, after Barclay became Johnson's new chief of staff over the weekend following a spate of resignations. Ellis will also keep his existing role of paymaster general and will attend cabinet.

A reshuffle has been expected since the prime minister promised to make changes at No.10 in the wake of Sue Gray’s initial report on lockdown-breaking Downing Street gatherings.

The Cabinet Office is yet to give details of what Rees-Mogg's "government efficiency" brief will entail.  Downing Street has confirmed he will be a member of the cabinet, having previously attended but not been a cabinet member.

The leader of the House of Commons' move into the newly-created role in the Cabinet Office was the first to be announced this afternoon.

Chief whip Mark Spencer has replaced Rees-Mogg as leader of the Commons, and Europe minister Chris Heaton-Harris has moved to the vacated chief whip role. In turn James Cleverly, another Foreign Office minister, has taken on Heaton-Harris's brief, which includes the Northern Ireland protocol.

The whip's office was criticised after Public Administration and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chair William Wragg said MPs had been threatened with losing constituency funding or finding “embarrassing” stories about themselves in the press if they backed a vote of no confidence in Johnson over the Partygate scandal

“It is of course the duty of the government whip's office to secure the government's business in the House of Commons. However, it is not their function to breach the ministerial code in threatening to withdraw investments from members of parliament's constituencies which are funded from the public purse," Wragg said last month.

Spencer is also connected to an inquiry over alleged racism towards former transport minister Nusrat Ghani. Ghani said she had been told when she was sacked that her "Muslimness” was “making colleagues uncomfortable”. Spencer later identified himself as the person alleged to have made the comments, but said the claim was "completely false".

The reshuffle comes after the prime minister appointed a handful of new aides after four of his advisers resigned.

Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay became Johnson's new chief of staff over the weekend, while Guto Harri, of kneeling on GB News fame and an adviser to Johnson when he was mayor of London, is now director of communications.

Last week, the PM's principal private secretary, chief of staff, director of communications and policy chief all quit.

No.10 policy chief Munira Mirza, who resigned over Johnson's comments that Keir Starmer had failed to personally prosecute Jimmy Savile, was replaced on the same day by MP and ex-Sky News boss Andrew Griffith.

Principal private secretary Martin Reynolds remains the only departure not to have been replaced and will continue in his role until a successor is found.

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