Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin — who had only just been put in charge of the civil service’s Brexit unit — is among the high-profiles names to leave the government under new prime minister Theresa May’s frontbench shake-up.
Letwin was seen as a close political ally of David Cameron and one of the key policy brains of his administration. The Cabinet Office minister's departure follows that of another key part of the Cameron circle, chancellor George Osborne.
Letwin was asked by Cameron to head up the Cabinet Office unit laying the groundwork for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. But new prime minister Theresa May has put long-standing eurosceptic David Davis in post as a new secretary of state for Exiting the European Union, and vowed to set up a dedicated department for the job.
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Other big names to leave government so far this morning include justice secretary Michael Gove, who unsuccessfully ran for the Tory leadership, education secretary Nicky Morgan, and culture secretary John Whittingdale.
Jeremy Hunt has been moved from health and it has been reported that he is in line for a new government job.
On Wednesday night, May also announced that Liam Fox, former defence secretary, would lead a new Department for International Trade, while former energy secretary Amber Rudd takes the reins at Marsham Street as home secretary.
The new chancellor is Philip Hammond, who moves from the FCO, and who has already ruled out an emergency Brexit budget promised by his predecessor Osborne in favour of an autumn statement “in the autumn in the normal way”.
He also signalled an easing of some of Osborne’s fiscal plans, telling the BBC that while the government had still “got to reduce the deficit further”, he was “looking at how and when and at what pace we do that”. May has already promised to ditch Osborne’s pledge of running a budget surplus by 2020.
Former London mayor Boris Johnson has been named as the UK’s new foreign secretary. Responding to that appointment, former FCO perm sec Sir Simon Fraser predicted the famously controversial former mayor of London would turn over a new leaf in cabinet.
“As they say in financial services, past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance,” Fraser said.
“It’s a job in which you command attention, you don’t need to seek attention, and he will be surrounded by highly professional people who will advise him, and I think he will address it in a professional way.”
CSW's sister site PoliticsHome has a full, up-to-the-minute coverage of the latest Cabinet moves