PM reshuffles cabinet but no shift in key policies

Change at Transport, NHS, Culture and Justice

Boris attacks Cameron over Heathrow expansion

DAVID Cameron last night put the finishing touches to his first ministerial reshuffle, with sweeping changes to the lower ranks but with most top cabinet members remaining in place.

Despite changing dozens of positions the Prime Minister’s spokesman admitted the reshuffle did not point to significant changes in coalition policy, but was about ensuring “we have the right ministers in place to deliver the government’s programme”.

George Osborne, Vince Cable, Michael Gove, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May all kept their jobs.

Before the reshuffle was complete Mayor of London Boris Johnson had already launched a direct attack on the decision to replace transport secretary Justine Greening, who opposes a third runway at Heathrow, with former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin.

“There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow Airport,” Johnson said. “It is time for the government to level with Londoners. Are they in favour of a third runway at Heathrow or not?”

Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt was a surprise move from culture secretary to the Department of Health, something he called “the biggest privilege of my life”. Hunt replaces Andrew Lansley, who paid the price for failing to convince a sceptical public of the need for further NHS reform.

Former disabilities minister Maria Miller takes over at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Ken Clarke was replaced as justice secretary by Chris Grayling, who is much tougher on sentencing and law and order but who also believes in doing more to rehabilitate prisoners. Clarke will stay in the cabinet with an advisory role. Downing Street also ditched convention to enable Baroness Warsi, who lost her job as party chairman, to continue to attend cabinet with the newly created designation of “senior minister of state”.

Grant Shapps is the new Tory party chairman and Andrew Mitchell is chief whip. Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, environment secretary Caroline Spelman and Leader of the House Sir George Young all departed for the backbenches.

With limited changes at the top of the cabinet, attention instead focused on the arrival of junior ministers who were first elected in 2005 and 2010 and are set to shape government policy in the future.

There were new faces at the Treasury where former Deutsche Bank managing director Sajid Javid, a political protege of chancellor George Osborne, has become economic secretary and will work alongside newly appointed junior minister Greg Clark, who will have responsibility for the City and supply-side reforms.

In January they will be joined by former Goldman Sachs banker Paul Deighton, who delivered a successful Olympic Games as chief executive of Locog and will become minister for economic delivery after accepting a peerage. Deighton will replace Lord Sassoon and have responsibility for implementing infrastructure programmes, reporting to the chancellor George Osborne.

“He will be tasked with banging heads together – he’s shown he’s been able to do [this] at the Olympics,” a Treasury spokesman told City A.M.

Elsewhere, Conservative MPs Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock have been sent to join the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in order to act as a “counterweight” to Liberal Democrat Vince Cable.

Nick Clegg decided against changing any Lib Dem cabinet ministers but did return former Treasury secretary David Laws to the government by offering him a role in the cabinet office and a junior ministerial position at the Department for Education.

Joining him as an education minister is rising Conservative star Liz Truss, whose calls for more rigorous exam standards found favour with secretary of state Michael Gove.