Wednesday 12 February 2020 10:00 pm

Johnson pledges to 'set foundations' for gender balanced Cabinet in today's reshuffle

Boris Johnson will today operate a one-in-one-out policy for his highest ranking women today, as he looks to make good on his promise to prioritise gender diversity and new voices.

A number of female Cabinet ministers, including environment secretary Theresa Villiers, business secretary Andrea Leadsom and culture secretary Nicky Morgan are among those expected to leave government today.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace and attorney general Geoffrey Cox are also expected to lose their roles.

But the Prime Minister has committed not to reduce the overall number of female Cabinet ministers, and is planning promotions forAnne-Marie Trevelyan and Victoria Atkins, while former Brexit minister Suella Braverman is understood to be making a return to government.

Gillian Keegan, who only became an MP in 2017, is expected to take her first ministerial role.

Johnson will fill a number of junior ministerial roles with women as part of a longer-term ambition to prepare them for Cabinet. Today’s reshuffle is expected to result in a 50-50 gender split among parliamentary under-secretary of states.

The Prime Minister has been fast-tracking other female MPs, including those who only joined parliament in December, to achieve this aim. By the summer the government aims to make at least 60 per cent of PPS roles held by female MPs. Currently, the figure is just 18 per cent.

Oliver Dowden and Alok Sharma are also expected to be handed Cabinet positions, with Dowden – who backed Johnson for leader – tipped to take over the culture brief.

However plans to merge or shut Whitehall departments such as international trade (DIT) or international development (DiFID), have been put on ice.

A No 10 source said: “The Prime Minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for government now and in the future. He wants to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years. He will reward those MPs who have worked hard to deliver on this government’s priorities to level up the whole country and deliver the change people voted for last year.”

He declined to comment further.