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Boris Johnson has rolled the dice with a mini Cabinet reshuffle, in a bid to shake up his Downing Street operation and save his bruised and battered premiership.
Chief Whip Mark Spencer – widely condemned for his handling of the government’s response on a host of issues, including sleaze and the Partygate scandal – has been promoted to Lord President and Leader of the House of Commons.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a keen defender of Johnson throughout his turbulent premiership, has been demoted but will remain in Cabinet as the newly-established Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency.
Meanwhile, Chris Heaton-Harris – who has been deputising Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Brexit negotiations with the EU – will attend Cabinet as the new Chief Whip.
In other developments, Michael Ellis is to be Minister for the Cabinet Office, in addition to his current role as Paymaster General; and Stuart Andrew has been promoted to Housing Minister; James Cleverly has been moved from Minister of North Africa and the Middle East to Minister for Europe.
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The reshuffle follows the recent appointments of Stephen Barclay as Number 10’s Chief of Staff, Guto Harri as Director of Communications, and Andrew Griffith as head of Downing Street’s policy unit.
More appointments to Johnson’s inner circle as part of “Operation Save Big Dog” may be yet to come. Dame Emily Lawson, who runs NHS England’s vaccine programme, is expected to be made Permanent Secretary, while Lynton Crosby protégé, David Canzini, is favourite to become Johnson’s political liaison between ministers and Tory backbenchers.