Theresa May Praises Tory ‘talent’

Theresa May said the government planned to focus on social issues and “delivering a successful Brexit” as she completed a Cabinet reshuffle.

The PM said the new line-up brought in “talent from across the whole of the Conservative party”.

Her comments came after Michael Gove, one of the driving forces behind Brexit, returned to the front bench as environment secretary.

She said it was a “government that’s going to be governing for everyone”.

Damian Green has been made First Secretary of State in the reshuffle.

The move effectively makes the former work and pensions secretary, a friend and ally of the PM, her second in command.

When asked if she had brought back Mr Gove – seen by some as an adversary – after being left weakened by the snap election result, Mrs May said her reshuffle had “seen people from across the party accepting the invitation to be in my Cabinet”.

“Crucially I’ve brought in talent from across the whole of the Conservative party. We want a country that works for everyone.”

She said she had appointed “a Cabinet that will get on with the job of government”.

“That’s about delivering a successful Brexit negotiations. And those negotiations start in a week’s time.”

Mrs May also said the government would be tackling issues such as the Brexit negotiations, and such issues as education, “dealing for the need for more housing” and a “proper mental health legislation that is going to support people”.

And when asked if she would continue in office, she replied: “I said during the election campaign if re-elected, I would serve a full term.”

Mr Gove told Sky News he was “quite surprised” to be asked to join the Cabinet.

“Of course I knew that today was re-shuffle day, but I genuinely didn’t expect this role although I am delighted to be part of the government, and delighted to be able to support Theresa.”

The previous environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has been appointed as the leader of the House in the Commons.

Most other ministers have kept their roles – but Liz Truss is moved from justice to chief treasury secretary.

Commons leader David Liddington takes over as justice secretary and Lord Chancellor.

Chief Treasury Secretary David Gauke has been appointed work and pensions secretary.

Mrs May had been expected to carry out a widespread reshuffle of her top team after Thursday’s general election but her room for manoeuvre has been limited by her failure to win an overall majority.

Most of the cabinet jobs remain unchanged:

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Philip Hammond

Secretary of State for the Home Department – Amber Rudd

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – Boris Johnson

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis

Secretary of State for Defence – Michael Fallon

Health Secretary – Jeremy Hunt

Communities Secretary – Sajid Javid

Culture Secretary – Karen Bradley

International development – Priti Patel

Transport – Chris Grayling

Business – Greg Clark

PMQs role

Damian Green, who was previously work and pensions secretary and was at university with Mrs May, has also become minister for the Cabinet Office, a position left vacant by Ben Gummer, who lost his seat in Thursday’s general election.

The First Secretary of State is a role previously held by George Osborne and, under Labour, Peter Mandelson and could see Mr Green standing in for Theresa May at prime minister’s questions when she is not available.

The role is periodically used by UK governments and did not exist in Mrs May’s first cabinet, formed after she became prime minister in July last year.

It does not come with a government department but does give its holder seniority over other cabinet ministers and is seen as being similar to the role of deputy prime minister.

Boris Johnson said that while the public would be wondering about the future of the current government, Mrs May had got the biggest Conservative mandate anyone had achieved for decades.

“I’m going to be backing her, and absolutely everybody I’m talking to is going to be backing her as well.”

Green concerns

According to BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin, some green campaigners have reservations over Mr Gove’s appointment.

Tom Burke, from the think tank e3g, told the BBC: “The environment is something young voters really care about.

“If the Tories really want to reconnect with the youth surge, this is about the worst option they could have chosen.”

But a senior farming source said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had “long been a backwater, so at last it’s not someone in charge who’s being put out to grass”.

In the latest fallout from the general election result, which confounded pollsters and left the UK with a hung Parliament:

An influential Conservative MP predicted Tory manifesto policies including on grammar schools would have to be “slimmed down”

Mrs May was accused of putting her party interest above the Northern Ireland peace process with the planned DUP alliance

Jeremy Corbyn said he could still be PM and would try to amend the Queen’s Speech

Former Tory Chancellor George Osborne described Mrs May as a “dead woman walking”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Mrs May would have to adopt a more “collective” approach to making decisions

Pro-EU Conservatives predicted the outcome of the general election would change the government’s approach to Brexit

Liam Fox retains his position as international trade secretary – he told reporters he was “delighted” to be continuing in the role he has held since July last year.

“It’s now time for the whole of the Conservative party to rally behind the prime minister and get a government in the national interest.”

Liz Truss’s change of position will be seen by some as a demotion – she was widely criticised by the judiciary following the High Court ruling regarding the government seeking Parliament’s permission to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal start of the Brexit process.

The judges involved were heavily criticised by some newspapers, and Mrs Truss was in turn criticised for failing to stand up for them.

Justine Greening remains as education secretary – her opposition to Theresa May’s policy of expanding grammar schools might be less of an issue now, if, as some expect, the government is forced to drop it from the Queen’s Speech to prevent a backbench revolt.

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