Johnson to promote ‘generation of talent’ in Cabinet reshuffle

Boris Johnson will “promote a generation of talent” in a reshuffle aimed at preparing the Tories for the future.

Cabinet ministers who fear for their jobs are braced for a “brutal” process, although it is in the lower ranks of the Government where the biggest changes are expected as the Prime Minister seeks to promote female MPs.

In a sign that the Tories are preparing for a lengthy period in government, Mr Johnson wants to give ministerial experience to a range of women who could be promoted to the Cabinet in future reshuffles.

Cabinet meeting
Cabinet meeting

There is not expected to be a reduction in the number of female members of the Cabinet, even though Baroness Morgan has already said she intends to leave her ministerial role and the positions of Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers are thought to be vulnerable.

Female MPs in line for promotion during the reshuffle process include defence minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, former Brexit minister Suella Braverman and Gillian Keegan.

Alok Sharma is expected to be promoted from his current Cabinet post at International Development, while Paymaster General Oliver Dowden – who attends Cabinet – is also in line for a bigger job.

HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth

A No 10 source said: “The Prime Minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for government now and in the future.

“He wants to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years.

“He will reward those MPs who have worked hard to deliver on this Government’s priorities to level up the whole country and deliver the change people voted for last year.”

The most junior ministerial rank – parliamentary under-secretary of state level – is likely to have a 50-50 gender split after the reshuffle.

By the summer, Mr Johnson also aims to ensure that at least 60% of ministerial aides – the parliamentary private secretaries – will be women, up from 18% at present.

Other factors at play in this reshuffle include filling the vacant role in charge of the Cop26 UN climate summit following the sacking of Claire O’Neill and deciding whether Steve Barclay will return to Government after the Brexit department was scrapped following the January 31 departure from the European Union.

Senior ministers including Chancellor Sajid Javid, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab are expected to remain in place while Downing Street has confirmed that Grant Shapps will stay on as Transport Secretary.

Mr Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings had reportedly been seeking a wider cull of ministers and a shake-up of Whitehall departments but No 10 insiders believe a more “conventional” reshuffle will be carried out by the Prime Minister.

On the eve of the changes, Ben Wallace and Geoffrey Cox – both viewed as under threat – set out why they should stay in office.

Defence Secretary Mr Wallace said: “I have been in this game long enough to know that British Cabinet reshuffles are brutal.

“It is at the decision of the Prime Minister who serves in his Cabinet.

“I have been there before, I have been in quite a long time, I’m keen to serve, I enjoy the job as Defence Secretary, I’m a veteran, I’m a northern MP, I was actually in the Army, so I think all of those hopefully qualify me, but who knows.”

Attorney General Mr Cox said he would “eagerly” embrace the opportunity to continue in his post if spared by the PM.

“Have I had enough of the job? Let me make plain: absolutely not. This has been one of the greatest, in fact the greatest honour of my professional life,” he said.

But the high-flying lawyer added: “If you gave me the opportunity to continue I would embrace it eagerly but equally if it is not to be, well then there are other doorways that will open for me.”