The Hound

Piers Morgan arrives for the 2019 British Academy Britannia Awards

Piers Morgan hired to launch Murdoch-owned talkTV

A moment of silence for GB News’ investors.

After Rupert Murdoch spiked plans for a television station, concluding it was not “commercially viable”, News UK has confirmed that it will be launching talkTV.

Piers Morgan – hot off his Ofcom bout with Meghan Markle – will be the channel’s star, signing as part of a global deal that will see him write two weekly columns for the New York Post and The Sun, as well as a book deal with Harper Collins.

The deal means that GB News, beset with difficulties since launch, will now be up against Morgan and the commercial clout of Murdoch.

With a launch set for next year, many are asking whether talkTV will market itself as another rabble-rouser against the “woke” establishment. At first glance, talkTV appears to be built around talkRADIO which soft-launched a video service back in 2019 and has been homing in on the culture wars with a series counting down “the biggest, daftest and most worrying examples of cancel culture”. Two former colleagues of Morgan at ITV – Jeremy Kyle and Rob Rinder – are currently prime-time anchors.

News UK says: “The new format shows will be introduced using talent from our own brands”, including talkSPORT, The Sun and The Times. By making this commercial gamble, Murdoch believes his dynasty has identified a gap in the market.

Yet some are worried about the direction in which the business is moving. A former News UK employee told Reaction that they “haven’t got the budget or the facilities or the audience” to start a television station.

If the run-up to GB News’ launch was anything to go by, expect handwringing and hysteria in the weeks to come… 

Liz Truss arrives at a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street

Reshuffle: Truss replaces Raab as foreign secretary

Boris Johnson’s long-expected Cabinet reshuffle is underway. It is the biggest ministerial shake-up since February 2020 and is the PM’s last opportunity to overhaul his team before the Conservative Party conference.

A Downing Street source said the Prime Minister will “conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic”. Here is who is in and out of key positions. Stay tuned for all the latest:

  • Liz Truss promoted to Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs. Previously International Trade Secretary and President of the Board of Trade. Keeps title as Minister for Women’s and Equalities. Anne Marie Trevelyan, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, replaces Liz Truss as International Trade Secretary. Penny Mordaunt promoted to Minister of State at the Department for International Trade.
  • Robert Buckland is out as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary. Dominic Raab demoted as Foreign Secretary. Now Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Gavin Williamson sacked as Education Secretary. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi graduated to Education Secretary.
  • After six-years in the role, Nick Gibb has left as Schools Minister. He is replaced by Robin Walker.
  • Robert Jenrick removed as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Michael Gove leaves post as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Appointed as the new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary. Takes on cross-government responsibility for levelling up. Retains ministerial responsibility for the Union and elections. Joined at the MHCLG by Neil O’Brien.
  • Stephen Barclay appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office. Simon Clarke will take over as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Michael Ellis selected as Paymaster General.
  • Nadine Dorries promoted to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. She is no longer Minister of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety. She will be joined by Julia Lopez who has been appointed Minister of State. John Wittingdale sacked as Media Minister, as is Caroline Dinenage as Minister of State.
  • Amanda Milling no longer Conservative Party Chairman and is now Minister of State in the Foreign Office. Oliver Dowden appointed Conservative Party Chairman. Previously Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
  • Lucy Frazer replaces Jesse Norman as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Helen Whately is appointed Exchequer Secretary.
  • Alex Chalk is now Solicitor General.
  • Amanda Solloway chosen as a new Whip.
  • Victoria Atkins, in charge of the Afghan Resettlement Scheme, is now a Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice.
  • Conor Burns will join the Northern Ireland Office as Minister of State.
  • Gillian Keegan appointed Minister of State at the Department for Health and Social Care.
  • Nigel Adams appointed Minister of State (without portfolio).
  • Kemi Badenoch appointed a Minister of State at both the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Also Minister for Equalities.
  • Damian Hinds, Minister of State at the Home Office, will also be Minister for Security and Boarders.
  • Greg Hands appointed Minister of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • Victoria Prentis becomes Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • Justin Tomlinson out as Minister of State at Department for Work and Pensions. He is replaced by Chloe Smith.
  • Luke Hall out as Local Government Minister.
  • Ministers remaining in their posts (Priti Patel, Home Secretary; Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary; Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary; Mark Spencer, Chief Whip; Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary; Alok Sharma, President of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference; Thérèse Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary; Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary; Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary; Simon Hart, Welsh Secretary; Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary; George Eustice, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary; Lord Frost, Brexit Minister; Baroness Evans, House of Lords leader; Michelle Donelan, Minister of State at Education; Suella Braverman, Attorney General, Jacob Rees-Mogg, House of Commons leader).
Boris Johnson, sister Rachel Johnson and mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl

Why Boris is Boris

One of the sweetest stories to emerge after the death of Boris Johnson’s mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, aged 79, is how Boris came to be Boris. 

It’s a story she told in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2015. Recently married to Stanley Johnson while still a student at Oxford, the couple went on a trip travelling around the US. She explained: “When I was three months pregnant, we travelled to Mexico City by Greyhound bus. It was very uncomfortable; I was desperately sick.

“We stayed with a man called Boris Litwin, who drew me aside and said: ‘You can’t travel back like this, here are two first-class air tickets.’ I was so grateful, I said: ‘Whatever the baby is, I shall call it Boris.'”

Her eldest son would be named Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in honour of his kindness. But when Alexander went to Eton, his teachers and peers discovered his second “foreign name” and started calling him Boris. The name has stuck.

But Charlotte went on to say: “If I were to call him Boris it would mean something was really serious.” She would have done, given the PM had previously described her the “supreme authority” of the Johnson clan.

The daughter of barrister Sir James Fawcett, Johnson Wahl met Boris’s equally famous dad, Stanley Johnson, in 1963, and made history by becoming the first married woman to finish her degree at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She went on to have her own accomplished career as a painter, painting the likes of Joanna Lumley and Jilly Cooper and of course all her sons and daughters. Despite suffering from Parkinson’s she continued to paint. She also attended Boris’ first party Conservative Party conference as leader. Whether she called him Alexander or Boris we don’t know. 

Our thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family.

Become a Reaction annual  subscriber for £60 and we’ll send you a welcome gift worth £20
Reaction subscribers get Iain Martin’s weekly newsletter, full access, a daily briefing and invitations to online events.