Monday 16 December 2019 7:26 am

Boris Johnson prepares mini-cabinet reshuffle as new Tory MPs arrive

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome his new tranche of Conservative MPs when they arrive in Westminster later today before the first day of the new parliament.

Johnson, whose decision to call a snap election paid off in resounding fashion last week when voters returned him to Downing Street with what he called a “stonking” majority, will welcome the 109 new MPs in an address later today.

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The Prime Minister is also set to shake up his cabinet to account for ministers who stood down at the election; former culture secretary Nicky Morgan and ex-Welsh secretary Alun Cairns.

His main priority will be securing parliament’s approval to proceed with a 31 January Brexit after MPs scuppered his move to quit the EU by 31 October.

Parliament will formally open on Thursday when the Queen delivers a speech outlining the new government’s legislative agenda.

And it is believed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill detailing Johnson’s plan to leave the EU could appear in the Commons on Friday.

“The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public’s trust by getting Brexit done,” a Downing Street source told the BBC.

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“That’s why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.”

If and when Johnson secures a 31 January Brexit under the terms of the deal he has negotiated with EU leaders, his attention must then turn to negotiating a new trade agreement with the bloc.

Johnson has insisted the transition period will not be extended beyond 31 December 2020, giving him just under a year to strike an agreement on the UK and EU’s future trading terms.

Labour, which suffered a disastrous defeat at the ballot box, is now searching for a new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn, who has said he will not lead the party into another election.

Corbyn wants the process to start “swiftly” to establish his successor by the end of March.

Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell accepted responsibility yesterday for Labour’s defeat, which saw many stronghold seats in the north turn blue.

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Corbyn said he was “sorry that we came up short” and McDonnell added that he “owns this disaster”.

Possible leadership contenders range from shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, to shadow business secretary and Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey and Corbyn critic Jess Phillips.