New Cabinet Office minister named in reshuffle as Morgan gets peerage to stay at DCMS

Johnson fills gaps in ministerial ranks ahead of more wide-ranging government changes after Brexit

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

17 Dec 2019

The prime minister has made a number of ministerial appointments ahead of this week’s Queen’s Speech setting out his legislative priorities.

In a limited reshuffle ahead of wide-ranging changes to government expected in the new year, former Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart has been named Welsh secretary, replacing Alun Cairns, who resigned during the election campaign after claims he had known about a former aide's role in the "sabotage" of a rape trial.

Hart has been replaced as Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary by former government whip Jeremy Quin who, if he maintains Hart’s brief as minister for implementation, will be responsible for civil service HR and the Government Digital Service.


Quin’s role overseeing civil service employment terms could place him at the centre of plans to overhaul the hiring and firing of officials after reports that Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings is set to lead work to underpin radical reforms, including a review of hiring and firing processes.

Among other government appointments yesterday, Nicky Morgan returned at digital and culture secretary, despite standing down as an MP at the general election. Morgan will instead be elevated to the House of Lords, becoming the first peer to serve as a cabinet minister – apart from the leader of the House – since Peter Mandelson at the end of the Labour government in 2010.

Morgan did not stand for re-election as MP for Loughborough at last week’s election. She said "the abuse for doing the job of a modern MP" was one of her reasons for quitting after nine years in parliament.

It has been reported that Morgan will only be in post until the new year, when a wider refshuffle is expected.

A series of media reports at the weekend said Boris Johnson was planning to restructure several government departments once the government had got its Brexit deal approved by the new Conservative majority parliament.

Possible changes floated include splitting responsibility for UK borders and immigration system off from the Home Office into a standalone department and merging the Department for International Trade with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Responsibility for climate change policy could also be moved back our of BEIS into its own ministry, while the Department for Exiting the EU would also be abolished, with responsibility for negotiations over the UK's future relationship with the EU being led by the Cabinet Office.

The Department for International Development could also be absorbed by the Foreign Office, reversing one of Labour’s first big machinery of government changes when it took power in 1997.

Yesterday's shake-up also saw Anne-Marie Trevelyan promoted from parliamentary under secretary of state to minister of state at the Ministry of Defence in place of Mark Lancaster, who stood down as an MP at the election. James Heappey took up Trevelyan's former role.

David TC Davies was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the Wales Office and an assistant government whip. Kevin Foster was named to the same role at the Home Office, replacing Seema Kennedy, who stood down.

Robin Walker, who had been a minister across both Scotland and Northern Ireland offices, will now hold the role only for Northern Ireland.

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