08 January 2018

As Prime Minister Theresa May reshuffles her Cabinet, the Whitehall Monitor team - Gavin Freeguard, Lucy Campbell, Aron Cheung, Alice Lilly and Charlotte Baker - provide data and charts as events unfold. 

09 January 2018 20:31

This is the new government in full:

So what happened? In short, for all the discussion about this being a boring reshuffle, where not much happened and nothing has changed, there has been significant ministerial turnover in some departments which will make facing some big challenges even more difficult.

Here’s a quick summary in charts:

Nearly a third of Cabinet members are new to their post.

  • David Lidington replaced Damian Green as Minister for the Cabinet Office, but not as First Secretary of State
  • Lidington was replaced as Justice Secretary by David Gauke
  • Gauke was replaced as Work and Pensions Secretary by Esther McVey, the previous deputy chief whip
  • Justine Greening resigned as Education Secretary, and was replaced by employment minister, Damian Hinds
  • Karen Bradley moved from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to Northern Ireland, replacing James Brokenshire, who stepped down for health reasons
  • Bradley was replaced by Matt Hancock, previously the minister of state for digital at DCMS
  • Patrick McLoughlin was replaced as Conservative party chairman by Brandon Lewis, who became Minister without Portfolio
  • Lewis was replaced as immigration minister by Caroline Nokes, who attends Cabinet for the first time
  • Claire Perry, minister of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will also attend Cabinet.

Those changes improved the gender balance of the Cabinet slightly, from 28.6% before Damian Green's departure to 34.5%. (There has also been a notable increase at Minister of State level, where the next set of Cabinet ministers are likely to come from, from 15% to 27%.)

There were also a couple of changes to departments themselves: the Department for Communities and Local Government became the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (it already had responsibility for housing), and the Department for Health adds Social Care to its title (it’s not yet clear whether that means any responsibilities being transferred from elsewhere).

[Note: we have updated the chart to reflect confirmation that Brandon Lewis is a full member of Cabinet, rather than just attending, and our figures on the gender balance of the Cabinet to compare after the reshuffle with before Damian Green leaving. Many thanks to Full Fact for getting in touch about this.]

Gauke is the sixth justice secretary since 2010, and McVey the fifth Work and Pensions Secretary since 2015.

That is an unhealthy level of turnover – moving ministers too frequently causes problems, as new ministers have to learn about new policies and about their departments – especially for MoJ, which faces a crisis in prisons, and DWP, which continues to roll out Universal Credit.

All of the ministers in the Cabinet Office are new, and three-quarters of those at MoJ are.

Junior ministers also do a lot of work in parliament and in their departments to push policies through and get them implemented. More than half of ministers at seven departments – the Northern Ireland Office, DCMS, DCLG/MHCLG, DfE and DWP, as well as Cabinet Office and MoJ – are new to their posts as of this reshuffle. In three of them – the Northern Ireland Office and DWP, as well as the Cabinet Office – no minister has served more than seven months and a day in their current post.

The same is true of the Whips’ Office, where nearly 70% are new to their posts as of this reshuffle. The chief whip has been in post since November, the deputy chief whip since earlier today. There is also no deputy leader of the House of Commons, at a time of minority government when parliamentary business managers are particularly important.

The 2015 intake have entered ministerial office.

One of the claims for the reshuffle was that new faces from the 2015 intake would start to move through government, and a number have joined Victoria Atkins, who became a Home Office minister in November 2017.

We’ll be back with a more extensive summary once the dust has settled, the new ministers have their feet under new desks and some departments have changed their nameplates. Until then, thanks for following!

09 January 2018 17:45

It's gone a bit quiet, but we think this is where we're up to. Let us know if we've missed anything...

09 January 2018 16:44

One of the big stories of this reshuffle was predicted to be the 2015 parliamentary intake entering ministerial office.

With Victoria Atkins (Home Office since November) now joined by Lucy Frazer (MoJ), Rishi Sunak (MHCLG), Oliver Dowden (Cabinet Office) and Kit Malthouse (DWP), that certainly seems to be the case.

09 January 2018 15:47

We’ve now moved down through the junior ministerial ranks, with parliamentary under-secretaries of state being appointed as well as ministers of state. Nadhim Zahawi (2010 intake) joins the Department for Education, and Suella Fernandes (2015) joins the Department for Exiting the European Union. We’re not aware of anyone having left DExEU, so that might be an extra minister.

One question people often ask is what the difference between minister of state (MoS) and parliamentary under-secretary of state (PUSS) is. Both are ministerial positions junior to Secretary of State, with MoS being more senior than PUSS.

Here’s George Young, interviewed as part of our Ministers Reflect series, on the experience of moving up from being a parliamentary under-secretary of state to minister of state (in short - it came with more responsibility):

I think that actually the big jump for me was going from PUSS [Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State] to Minister of State under Heseltine, partly because there was a lot of delegation to ministers of state. That was quite a big jump from doing the adjournment debates, getting the bills through, signing the letters to actually driving policy; that was quite a bit step, perhaps almost a bigger step than back-bencher to PUSS.

09 January 2018 15:03

On the subject of new people entering departments... there had been much briefing about promoting members of the 2015 intake. Victoria Atkins became the first to enter ministerial office (at the Home Office) as part of the mini-reshuffle prompted by Priti Patel leaving government.

There are now a few more:

  • Lucy Frazer goes to MoJ
  • Rishi Sunak goes to Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Oliver Dowden joins the Cabinet Office
  • Kit Malthouse enters DWP

Robert Jenrick, who entered parliament in the Newark by-election in 2014, is the new Exchequer Secretary.

09 January 2018 14:18

Hello again. We need to talk about ministerial turnover.

It’s obviously a moveable feast, given appointments are still happening, but the chart below shows when ministers currently in the department came into their post.

The pinks show every minister that took their position either after the 2017 election (light pink) or in this week’s reshuffle (dark pink). In nearly every department, half or more of ministers have been in their post for less than a year. This level of turnover is disruptive to the operation of government, as new ministers have to learn new briefs and how their new department operates.

Cabinet Office will have an entirely new ministerial team:

Well worth keeping an eye on what happens at Justice (MoJ), Business (BEIS), Health (DHSC), Education (DfE), Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Treasury, which had a total change (Hammond aside) in the June 2017 reshuffle:

09 January 2018 12:25

We think is the current state of play on the reshuffle:

What happened with junior ministers in May’s last reshuffle, after the general election in 2017?

Although there was relatively little movement at Cabinet level, across the whole of government 44% of ministers were new to their posts. That level of churn can have real practical consequences, given the role of junior ministers:

Often it is junior ministers who are better placed than secretaries of state to devote time to driving implementation: bringing external stakeholders on board, championing specific policies within departments, and monitoring progress… Given the important role junior ministers can play in driving implementation, there is a clear case for ensuring leadership continuity for important projects – as seen with the London Challenge schools programme under Stephen Twigg and pensions reform under Steve Webb.


The Department for Exiting the European Union has received a lot of attention for its ministerial movements – with some justification, given it went through three ministers in the Lords last year:

But in the last reshuffle, it was the Treasury that experienced the greatest turnover, with only Chancellor Philip Hammond remaining in place. We think Andrew Jones moved on yesterday.

Which departments could see the biggest change this time? So far, the Ministry of Justice has a new Secretary of State and will need to replace Dominic Raab, while no Cabinet Office ministers survive from before Damian Green’s resignation.

09 January 2018 12:05

We have some appointments: Alok Sharma moves from being housing minister (at the Department formerly known as Communities and Local Government, now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) to become employment minister at DWP. He is replaced by Dominic Raab, formerly a minister of state at the Ministry of Justice.

Two things:

Raab is the latest name to be added to the list of housing ministers – the seventh housing minister since 2010. That’s more postholders than any Cabinet post in the same period. You can read the reflections of some former housing ministers, including John Healey and Mark Prisk, on our Ministers Reflect site.

His departure means yet another change at the Ministry of Justice. Gauke became the department’s sixth Secretary of State yesterday – how much more change will we see at a department facing a number of big challenges?

09 January 2018 11:38

Our rapid reaction to the first day of the Cabinet reshuffle. 

09 January 2018 11:33

What happened to the gender balance of the Cabinet yesterday?

35% of Cabinet attendees are now women, up from 30% before the reshuffle.

That increase is largely due to there being more women ‘attending’ Cabinet, rather than full members (there’s a limit to how many ministers can be full members, as this House of Commons Library briefing explains). Caroline Nokes and Claire Perry now attend, having not done so before. David Cameron also brought more women into Cabinet by using ‘attending’ status.

There was no official announcement about the new Minister for Women and Equalities yesterday, a post former Education Secretary, Justine Greening, held. Reports suggest equalities will head to Amber Rudd at the Home Office (where it was under Theresa May for a few years after 2010, before moving to DCMS and then DfE).

09 January 2018 11:15

Here's my rapid reaction to yesterday's Cabinet reshuffle:



09 January 2018 10:42

So it’s junior minister reshuffle time.

Junior ministers tend not to receive the same attention as Cabinet ministers, though they tend to do a lot of the heavy lifting in departments and parliament. As we noted in The Challenge of Being a Minister (2011):

Secretaries of state have dominated the discussion on ministerial performance in previous studies and memoirs. But there are four times as many junior ministers as those in the cabinet and their role has often been neglected... Ministers of state and under-secretaries often play a very important role in delivering change and implementing policies – and they are, of course, the cabinet ministers of the future, even if only a few make it that far.


Prime Ministers can often overlook their importance, too:

Their appointment can often be haphazard. Not only is there little attention to which minister has the appropriate experience and skills for a post, but prime ministers often negotiate with powerful secretaries of state keen to protect their allies and protégés. In other cases, weaker or new heads of departments had no real say in the choice of junior ministers: “it all depends on your place in the pecking order”, as one cabinet minister ruefully noted about the bargaining and bartering that went on for the most promising junior ministers ahead of any reshuffle.


If you’re entering ministerial office today – or interested in what that would be like – you should read our report on How to be an effective minister, which starts with this bracing quote from Nicky Morgan:

You are ‘it’. And in a meeting when there’s a tough issue or anything else, all heads will swivel to you. You’ve got to be the one to deliver the bad news or to ask the tough question or to point out that actually the advice that’s been given is just not good enough.

09 January 2018 10:18

Morning everyone, and welcome to day two of the latest government reshuffle. We think all the Cabinet moves were made yesterday, and we’ll be moving onto junior ministerial positions today. Laura Kuenssberg reports that Mark Garnier, formerly a junior minister at the Department for International Trade, has become the first minister to leave their post today.

So to summarise yesterday…

31% of Cabinet attendees are new to their post. That’s slightly higher than the reshuffle after the 2017 election.

New appointments include:

  • David Lidington becoming Minister for the Cabinet Office, replacing Damian Green
  • David Gauke replacing Lidington at Justice
  • Esther McVey replacing Gauke at DWP
  • Damian Hinds replacing Justine Greening at Education
  • Karen Bradley replacing James Brokenshire, who stepped down for health reasons, at the Northern Ireland Office
  • Matt Hancock moving up from a junior position at DCMS to become Secretary of State
  • Brandon Lewis replacing Patrick McLoughlin as Tory party chair and becoming a Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office
  • Caroline Nokes, previously minister for resilience and efficiency at the Cabinet Office, replacing Lewis as immigration minister at the Home Office
  • Claire Perry retains her role as Minister of State at BEIS, but will now attend Cabinet.

For all the ‘nothing has changed’ narrative, there are some areas which have experienced a great deal of change. Gauke is the sixth Justice Secretary since 2010, McVey the fifth Work and Pensions Secretary since 2015. And all while those departments face big challenges – such as the prisons crisis at MoJ and the continuing roll-out of Universal Credit at DWP.

The gender balance of the Cabinet has improved slightly – 30% of Cabinet attendees were women before the reshuffle, 35% are now. That’s the highest percentage since at least 2010.

This is what the government looked like first thing this morning, before Garnier's departure - let's see what happens through the rest of the day...

08 January 2018 21:11

I think we’ll call it a night for now. We’ve had another appointment – Caroline Nokes, previously responsible for resilience and efficiency at the Cabinet Office (taking in subjects like digital, which she recently spoke at the Institute about, open government and the recently-relaunched Single Departmental Plans), replaces Brandon Lewis as immigration minister and will attend Cabinet. That move means every minister at the Cabinet Office will be new to the department.

We’re yet to hear about some positions attending Cabinet – Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Liz Truss), Leader of the Commons (Andrea Leadsom) and Commons Chief Whip (Julian Smith) are yet to be confirmed. We also don’t currently have a Minister for Women and Equalities following Justine Greening’s resignation.

These have been today’s Cabinet moves:

Most of the departments with new Secretaries of State or equivalent today – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Ministry of Justice, Department for Work and Pensions and Cabinet Office – are ones that have seen a great deal of disruption since 2010, and are now on their fifth or sixth Secretary of State in that time:

The Cabinet Office, Ministry of Justice and Department for Work and Pensions are each on their third Secretary of State since Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the reshuffle. Until then, this is what the government looks like – good night!

08 January 2018 20:34

Esther McVey re-enters the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She previously attended Cabinet as Minister for Employment at DWP, before losing her seat in the 2015 election.

She came back into Parliament in the 2017 election, and re-entered government as deputy chief whip after Gavin Williamson replaced Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary – so that’s more turnover in the Whips’ Office, which is particularly important under a minority government.

She also becomes the fifth Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2015.

08 January 2018 20:14

Damian Hinds is the new Education Secretary. He was previously the minister responsible for Universal Credit at the Department for Work and Pensions, which remains without a Secretary of State. It also doesn’t appear that Hinds has taken on Greening’s Minister for Women and Equalities role.

Alun Cairns has also been confirmed as Secretary of State for Wales, meaning both the Welsh and Scottish Secretaries remain in post. The territorial offices pose particular challenges, according to some of our Ministers Reflect interviews.

Here’s Michael Moore, former Scottish Secretary:

[when the] Scottish National Party won the majority….that created a platform and totally changed the office dynamic: we were no longer a back-marker department and had moved to the front line.


Stakeholder engagement was a huge part of the job – being the Government’s representative in Scotland, without appearing like you were an ambassador or the governor general, as some of my opponents occasionally would call me.


And Stephen Crabb, former Welsh Secretary:

The truth is that being Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Wales office, one of the smallest departments in Whitehall, you’re not rushed off your feet.


A department like the Wales office is much more about projecting a voice and a face of UK government and then representing Welsh interests back into UK government around the Cabinet table.

08 January 2018 19:51

So David Mundell remains Secretary of State for Scotland – but if multiple reports are to be believed, Justine Greening has resigned as Education Secretary.

She was also Minister for Women and Equalities. That means today, one woman has left the Cabinet and no women have entered. This was the situation at the start of the day:

08 January 2018 19:33

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park maintains her position as Leader of the House of Lords.

The only Cabinet members yet to be confirmed are:

  • Education Secretary, Justine Greening (who has been in Downing Street for a few hours, according to reports)
  • The new Work and Pensions Secretary
  • The Secretaries of State for Scotland (David Mundell) and Wales (Alun Cairns)
  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss
  • Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom
  • Commons Chief Whip, Julian Smith
  • Attorney General, Jeremy Wright.

08 January 2018 19:18

Michael Gove stays as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

As we continue to wait for Justine Greening to emerge from Number 10, here are some reflections from a former Defra minister, Labour's Ben Bradshaw:

I think one of Tony’s mistakes was to move people around too often and too much and I have to say, one of Cameron’s pluses was keeping good people in portfolios, particularly at secretary of state level. I can completely understand the rationale for moving ministers, junior ministers, around to broaden their experience and I certainly am not complaining about the fact that I did a year at the Foreign Office, a year at the Privy Council, because that gave me invaluable experience. Four years as a junior minister at Defra felt a little bit too long at the time.


I think for junior ministers four years is probably enough while anything less than two years is not long enough because it’s only really after two years, particularly as a junior minister, that you know enough to be fully effective and to challenge the civil servants and ask the questions that need to be asked. Obviously you can ask the right basic questions from day one, but I think you’re at your most effective when you’re at least a year and a half or two years into a job. And I was always slightly suspicious about the tendency to move junior ministers around too regularly and after a short time in the job, because it made us easier to manage and was therefore convenient for the machine. Maybe that’s a bit too conspiratorial about the machine, but I certainly think as a rule, there’s an argument for keeping secretaries of state in jobs for a good period… And there’s also an argument for moving people on after a while, because there’s always a danger that you end up going native and seeing the whole world through the prism of the Home Office or whatever and you don’t see the bigger picture. I always had a marginal seat, which made me more political and less administrative as a minister. I think that helped inure me to departmental capture.

08 January 2018 19:10

Chris Grayling – who is not Conservative Party chairman – remains at Transport, and Penny Mordaunt – who replaced Priti Patel in November 2016 – at International Development.

08 January 2018 18:47

Matt Hancock is the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He steps up from being Minister of State for Digital in the department.

He was also one of four ministers who accepted a demotion from Cabinet when May first became Prime Minister in 2016.

08 January 2018 18:13

We’ve already noted the turnover of Ministers for the Cabinet Office (Lidington is the fourth since 2015) and Justice Secretaries (Gauke is the sixth since 2010). But whoever replaces Gauke at DWP will be the fifth since 2015, and the third since Theresa May became Prime Minister.

One of their major responsibilities will be rolling out the Universal Credit, which you can read all about in Nick Timmins’ 2016 report for the Institute.

What can they expect? Here’s our interview with the longest-serving Secretary of State at DWP, Iain Duncan Smith, which includes:

DWP is a delivery department with offices in every town in the UK…my sense about the DWP job centres is that they were full of ideas and dedicated people…What was also good about the department was the way that high-flying senior civil servants in Whitehall were regularly sent to spend time in these centres so that they understood how the policies worked on the ground.


We’re also awaiting a new Secretary of State at DCMS – here’s Tessa Jowell (via Tess, who’s been tweeting some choice reshuffle quotes today):

Then in 2001, I joined the Cabinet and I remember seeing the Prime Minister and he said ‘I’d like you to go to DCMS’ [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] and he told me what the priorities were: cross-media ownership and sorting out a catalogue of big problems that the department had in relation to three big projects. So I was very happy with that, but I also realised that although this was not a big mainstream department, it handled some of the most difficult things, you know, which nobody would notice until they went wrong and then they were on the front page of every newspaper as a proxy to whoever was having a go against a particular bit of government at the time.

08 January 2018 17:51

Karen Bradley is the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, succeeding James Brokenshire. Her successor at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and (also) Sport will be the sixth person to hold that role since 2010 (after Jeremy Hunt, Maria Miller, Sajid Javid, John Whittingdale and Bradley).

Some advice on Northern Ireland, from former Secretary of State, Theresa Villers:

“When I arrived they gave me the whole transition set of papers, including a history of the island of Ireland from 1171, which says a lot!”

“At Northern Ireland, it was slightly different in that there were so many sensitive political things that I and my team were forever going back and forth to Number 10 to make sure they were happy with it”

And from former minister Hugo Swire:

“You are in a strange position in Northern Ireland, because you are not one of the devolved ministers. You do not have day-to-day responsibility, and yet you have ultimate responsibility for quite a lot. It’s a diplomatic role more than a political role.”

08 January 2018 17:20

We finally have a new Justice Secretary: David Gauke (which leaves a vacancy as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions).

He is the sixth Justice Secretary since 2010.

This from the Institute’s Dr Alice Lilly on his in-tray:

David Gauke will be the sixth Justice Secretary since 2010—for comparison, there have been five managers of the England men’s football team (including caretakers) in the same period (and only two Home Secretaries, and three Foreign Secretaries).

The new Justice Secretary faces a range of challenges, from running a £1bn courts modernisation and transformation programme, to dealing with the crisis in prisons. Since 2009, prisons have become much more violent—prisoner-on-prisoner assaults up 53%, and assaults on staff up 124%. Numbers of prison officers have fallen by over a quarter, and a recruitment drive is underway for 2,500 new officers—but the prison population also rose by more than expected over the summer, raising questions about overcrowding and living conditions for prisoners. Lidington outlined his thinking on prison—including a desire to reduce prisoner numbers— in a major speech just a few weeks ago, but it remains to be seen whether the new Justice Secretary will take a different approach.

You can read more in our Performance Tracker chapter on prisons, or by following Alice’s Twitter thread, below:



08 January 2018 16:52

Jeremy Hunt remains/is the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

It’s not clear yet whether this is just renaming the department – as happened earlier with Sajid Javid and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – or if there will be some transfers of responsibilities from elsewhere. We’ll keep an eye out for any written ministerial statements with more details of that.

Worth noting that Health and Social Care/Services have been in the same department in the past, most recently in 1988:

Greg Clark has also been confirmed as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

08 January 2018 16:33

Since there’s nothing else going on at the moment, here are a couple of my favourite reshuffle stories (yes, I’ve done this enough times that I have some).

First, Ed Balls – read his interview with us here – from his book:

On the day when I received my first ever ministerial job in the reshuffle of 2006, I sat in my office up in Yorkshire waiting for the call I’d been told to expect. The phone rang: ‘We have the Prime Minister for you.’ A second later, the familiar voice said: ‘Ed, it’s Tony. I’ve been thinking very hard about how to use your skills, and I think you should go to work on investment and small business in Northern Ireland.’ I paused, thinking; ‘Bloody hell, I know nothing about Northern Irish politics. How are we going to manage that with the kids? What’s Yvette going to say?’ But it was the Prime Minister appointing me to a job and I told him it would be a great honour to accept the position. There was a pause and Tony laughed and said: ‘Gotcha! Only joking, you’re going to the Treasury. Good luck and enjoy it, I’m sure you’ll be brilliant.’ And that was that.


And there’s this, from our report Reshuffling the Pack (2012):

Tony Blair was also renowned for being a poor ‘butcher’, due to his dislike of having to dismiss his colleagues. On one occasion, Keith Vaz was called in to see the PM, who spent half an hour telling the delighted Vaz what a good job he was doing as Minister for Europe. As he left the office, it was left to Jonathan Powell to break the bad news.

08 January 2018 15:57

Boris Johnson has been confirmed in his post as Foreign Secretary.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (following James Brokenshire’s resignation) and Secretary of State for Justice (following David Lidington’s move to the Cabinet Office) are currently unfilled, though there’s not much else apparently going on at the moment.

A perfect time to look at Cabinet Committees. These are groups of ministers that can “take collective decisions that are binding across government”, and are partly designed to reduce the burden on the full Cabinet by allowing smaller groups of ministers to take decisions on specific policy areas. There’s much more in our Explainer, here.

According to reports, David Lidington will be replacing his predecessor, Damian Green, on the committees he sat on. As you can see from the chart below, that’s a lot – chairing more than anyone else (nine, and deputy chair of three), and sitting on all but two. Even if he doesn’t have the title of First Secretary of State, that gives him a very influential role across government.

08 January 2018 15:16

So Sajid Javid is confirmed in his current role, but has a new title and a new department, despite not moving.


It looks like the Department for Communities and Local Government has been renamed the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The department was already responsible for housing – Alok Sharma is currently the Minister of State for Housing and Planning – but this change might reflect the Prime Minister’s political priorities in the new year. The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire is likely to be prominent this year – the Institute’s recent report on public inquiries is well worth a read in that context.

It doesn’t look like we’ll need to update our machinery of government chart to take account of any new organisations or transferred responsibilities at this stage.

08 January 2018 14:56

So what does David Lidington, the fourth Minister for the Cabinet Office since 2015, need to know about his new department?

Nick Harvey told us this in his Ministers Reflect interview:

The Cabinet Office was a complete revelation to me. I think it is wholly misunderstood in Parliament. In my time in parliament, it was always perceived that anyone who was either sent to the Cabinet Office as a minister, or assigned by their party to shadow it, had been put into the political graveyard and I had an impression of the Cabinet Office that it was about a dozen officials who staple together the agenda for the Cabinet Meeting. The idea that it was this great beast that basically had the entirety of government in its clutches was a complete revelation to me.


Pretty important then. Though the quality of the Cabinet Office divides opinions in our archive – David Willetts was not a fan:

I think that the worst department of government by a long margin is the Cabinet Office: it is completely dysfunctional….It’s not accountable. It imposes absurd things on you. It then runs away when things don’t work out and always blames you. It is a terrible department. Over-manned, too many ministers, and a lot of time was spent essentially trying to stop the Cabinet Office messing up things we were doing. So I think Cabinet Office is deeply dysfunctional.


Oliver Letwin was much more positive:

Cabinet Office and the Treasury were significantly better than the average. But there was a huge amount of terrible guff, at huge, colossal, humungous length coming from some departments.

08 January 2018 14:37

If it's true, as The Guardian and others are reporting, that some of the new Conservative Party vice chairs - Chris Skidmore (Cabinet Office), Andrew Jones (Treasury), Marcus Jones (Department for Communities and Local Government) - have left government, this is the current state of play:

08 January 2018 14:10

Welcome back! It looks like we have some moves to confirm, courtesy of the Number 10 Twitter account.

Amber Rudd remains Home Secretary and Brandon Lewis remains in the Cabinet (moving to Minister Without Portfolio and Conservative party chairman).

David Lidington moves from Justice to become the new Minister for the Cabinet Office. He's the fourth Conservative to hold that position since 2015, after Francis Maude's five-year stint.

It means his replacement as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor will be the sixth person to hold that post since 2010.

08 January 2018 12:26

There are lots of reports that Patrick McLoughlin, former Conservative Party Chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Cabinet Office), has resigned. It's not yet clear whether Brandon Lewis, who is apparently the new party chairman rather than Chris Grayling (as reports had initially indicated), will also take over the same role in Cabinet. McLoughlin was one of four Cabinet attendees - with Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Philip Hammond - to have attended Cabinet continuously since 2010 (though not always as a full member).

While we wait for some more confirmations of... well, anything, let's have some reflections from former Conservative ministers on reshuffles, courtesy of our Ministers Reflect archive.

Here’s Ken Clarke on being reshuffled out:

after two years, you are really on top of it. I mean, you really are comfortable, you are doing things. But you realise that the decisions you took after six months were wrong and you have changed your mind. After two years, you are sitting in control now, behind your desk, where you are really going to do this, this, and this. And then the phone rings and the prime minister is having a reshuffle and you move on to the next department and you are back at the beginning, there you are, panicking again.


Here's Dominic Grieve on being reshuffled in:

You are asked, you are appointed, somebody suggests they are going to send a car down to pick you up… slightly to my surprise, I walked into a room to find the entire staff assembled, waiting to hear from me what my policies were going to be in respect to the running of the office. And I think I probably sketched out what I thought were the priorities for the law officers and for myself as Attorney in about two minutes, having thought about it for about 35 seconds before I turned up.


Ken Clarke, again, because why not:

I think one of the things that the best civil servants used to say they found quite remarkable was the quite considerable contrast they would encounter when there was a reshuffle and they got a new secretary of state. And it may be that the same party was providing the government, but you could have an astonishing change of policy when the new minister turned up, let alone style.


And Nicky Morgan’s experience of being reshuffled in is well worth reading in full:

I think I went back to the Treasury, picked up my stuff and said ‘I’m off’ and then literally within about half an hour I was arriving at the Department for Education [DfE]... Of course you don’t have the luxury of having been in opposition and then being elected to government to think ‘OK I’ve had time to prepare my policy programmes and what I want to do’ you’ve got to hit the ground running. You’re inheriting other people’s policies and then potentially making changes, because obviously normally the PM will say ‘I’d like you to do more of this or less of that’ or whatever it is. So you’re trying to make the machine do that.


More reshuffle reflections are summarised here.

08 January 2018 11:52

One thing prominent in a lot of the press briefing was the Prime Minister's desire to increase diversity. Here's the percentage of all ministers able to attend Cabinet who are women since 2010 (as of yesterday):

Promotions to Cabinet often come from Minister of State level. I reckon there are currently five female Ministers of State:

  • Baroness Williams (Home Office)
  • Anne Milton (Department for Education)
  • Baroness Fairhead (Department for International Trade)
  • Claire Perry (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
  • Sarah Newton (Department for Work and Pensions)

08 January 2018 11:38

We have our first change: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, has unexpectedly resigned:

Here's some advice from our Ministers Reflect archive on working at the Northern Ireland...

From former Secretary of State, Theresa Villers:

“When I arrived they gave me the whole transition set of papers, including a history of the island of Ireland from 1171, which says a lot!”

“At Northern Ireland, it was slightly different in that there were so many sensitive political things that I and my team were forever going back and forth to Number 10 to make sure they were happy with it”

And from former minister Hugo Swire:

“You are in a strange position in Northern Ireland, because you are not one of the devolved ministers. You do not have day-to-day responsibility, and yet you have ultimate responsibility for quite a lot. It’s a diplomatic role more than a political role.”

08 January 2018 11:10

Good morning, and welcome to the latest Institute for Government reshuffle live-blog. We'll be charting (literally) the changes Theresa May makes to her government, with added insight from across the Institute about what it all means.

So how did we get here? It's seven months to the day when the country went to the polls for the early general election, where the government hoped to increase its majority and strengthen its parliamentary hand on Brexit.

That's not quite how it panned out, the government losing its majority instead.

That political shock left the Prime Minister without the authority to reshuffle her Cabinet widely: with only 25% of Cabinet ministers new to their post, it had the lowest turnover of any reshuffle post-election or appointment of new Prime Minister since at least 1997. Stability would normally be a good thing - ministers get moved around too much, just as they're getting to grips with their brief - but this time, it reflected the PM's constrained room for manoeuvre.

That relative political stasis wasn't matched across the whole of government - 44% of all ministers were new to their jobs. And all of that came on top of the upheaval of May's initial appointments in July 2016, where three new departments were created and only at the Ministry of Defence did half of ministers stay in place.

Since the election, three Cabinet ministers have resigned (or been resigned): Michael Fallon (MoD), Priti Patel (DfID) and Damian Green (Minister for the Cabinet Office and First Secretary of State). Green has not yet been replaced, precipitating today's reshuffle.

Will the Prime Minister appoint a new First Secretary of State as well as replacing Green in his Cabinet Office role? Will media briefings of Cabinet ministers moving or being sacked turn out to be true?

Follow us and find out!

Liam Fox is confirmed as Secretary of State for International Trade.

The Department for International Trade was one of the departments May created upon becoming Prime Minister in July 2016: Martin Donnelly, then the permanent secretary, has written and spoken about the creation of the department.