UK's Northern Ireland minister quits as May shuffles Cabinet

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2018

Outflanked by an army of enthusiastic Labour grassroots in the form of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting campaign group Momentum, May's promotion of a younger, more diverse crowd to the party leadership reflects widespread concern that the party failed to appeal to younger voters.

The most senior government ministers - including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and Treasury chief Philip Hammond - all kept their jobs.

McLoughlin had been widely tipped for the sack after last summer's disastrous snap election, in which the Tories lost their parliamentary majority.

Davis also wrote that he plans to ask the European Commission to update its guidance to business, to emphasis the potential for a future trade deal.

The need for a reshuffle grew as deputy prime minister Damian Green stepped down last month over a pornography scandal, following the autumn departures of ministers Michael Fallon and Priti Patel, who became embroiled in separate controversies.

However, her party had to delete a tweet naming the wrong person as its new chairman.

Some Conservative lawmakers appeared to agree, with Tory grandee Nicholas Soames tweeting: "I don't mean to be rude or to be seen to be disloyal but there needs to be a major improvement to the reshuffle tomorrow".

It is understood that May does not intend to appoint a first secretary of state in what is expected to be her biggest reshuffle since taking office in 2016.

Junior minister Chris Skidmore was appointed vice chairman for policy, Maria Caulfield as vice chair for women, and 2017 intake MPs Kemi Badenoch and Ben Bradley as vice chairs for candidates and youth respectively.

James Brokenshire
Image James Brokenshire

The newspaper reported that education secretary Justine Greening is fighting for her job, partly because the Conservatives want to recast themselves as the party for education.

But May, who heads a minority government divided over Brexit, had limited room to make changes, and the overhaul could reinforce perceptions that her authority is fragile.

After starting the two-year withdrawal process in March last year, Britain struck a deal in December on the financial settlement with Brussels, as well as on expatriate rights and the Irish border.

Britain and the European Union are set to begin discussing their future relations, with just over a year to go until the set to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

But he declined to offer an explanation for the decision to rebrand Javid's department a "ministry".

Johnson, a leading Brexit supporter, kept his job at the foreign office, despite challenging May's strategy in 2017, as did fellow eurosceptic Liam Fox, the global trade minister.

Former work and pensions secretary David Gauke has taken over the roles of Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary vacated by Lidington.

The chairman of May's Conservative party, Patrick McLoughlin, was the first to go, telling Sky News that his time in government had been a "great privilege".

The government has consulted lawyers over the EU's preparations for a no deal Brexit, claiming they pose a risk to British businesses and are in breach of the UK's rights as a member state.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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