Boris Johnson will continue to rebuild his ministerial team on Thursday, having already reshuffled his cabinet.
The PM, who is promising to “build back better” from the pandemic, fired Gavin Williamson as education secretary and Robert Buckland as justice secretary.
And he replaced Dominic Raab with Liz Truss as foreign secretary, in his biggest shake-up since entering No 10.
Mr Johnson is now expected to rejig his junior and middle-ranking ministers in a process which could take days.
Backbench Conservative MPs – and many of those already in office – will be waiting anxiously for a call from Downing Street.
Following the reshuffle, the prime minister tweeted that his new cabinet would “work tirelessly to unite and level up the whole country”.
“We will build back better from the pandemic and deliver on your priorities,” he said. “Now let’s get on with the job.”
Ms Truss, who is the Tory party’s first female foreign secretary – and only the second woman to hold the role, following Labour’s Margaret Beckett – said she was delighted by the appointment and would use the role to “promote a positive, outward vision of global Britain”.
Among the changes made on Wednesday:
- Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was promoted to education secretary
- Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was fired and replaced by Michael Gove
- Treasury minister Steve Barclay replaced Mr Gove as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- Health minister Nadine Dorries replaced Oliver Dowden as culture secretary
- Mr Dowden was given the role of minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office, and Conservative Party co-chair
- Anne-Marie Trevelyan was promoted to replace Ms Truss as international trade secretary
- Mr Raab moved from the Foreign Office to become justice secretary, but he will also have the formal title of deputy prime minister
The big winners from the reshuffle include Ms Dorries, a junior health minister and best-selling novelist who has never sat at the cabinet table before.
New Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Michael Gove will get the added responsibility of the government’s “levelling up” agenda – spreading wealth and opportunity around the country – while continuing to handle demands for another Scottish independence referendum.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Dowden, following his appointment as the Tory party’s new co-chairman, had told staff at Conservative Campaign Headquarters to start preparing for a general election which could be in 20 months’ time.
Mr Johnson continued making changes late into the night on Wednesday as he got the reshuffle of more junior ministers under way, ahead of wider changes on Thursday.
Penny Mordaunt, who was paymaster general – a ministerial position in the Cabinet Office, tweeted on Thursday her thanks to her colleagues, saying she was “no longer your minister” and she wished her successor good luck.
Long-serving Nick Gibb was sacked from his role at the Department for Education, while Caroline Dinenage lost her job as a culture minister, and Luke Hall was fired as a local government minister.
Amanda Milling, who was removed as Conservative Party co-chairwoman, has become a Foreign Office minister.
Julia Lopez has been moved from the Cabinet Office to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, while Greg Hands left the Department of International Trade for a new brief as business minister.
The way the most senior government politicians are recruited and removed is bizarre and brutal.
For weeks, ministers have nervously inquired of journalists: “Is it on?”
People in the Westminster village who claim real knowledge of the plan are rarely those who truly know.
But, whatever the curious British traditions of how it’s done, it is what is done that makes the difference. Prime ministers rarely wield as much power as on the day of the big hirings and firings.
And Boris Johnson has used this occasion to make big changes to the cabinet – the most significant switch coming in one of the chunkiest jobs of all.