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Thursday, 22 February 2024
Cabinet reshuffle: Julian Smith and Andrea Leadsom among early casualties
Esther McVey, Julian Smith, Theresa Villiers and Andrea Leadsom are no longer ministersFile photo PA MEDIAAFP

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith and Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom are among the early casualties as Boris Johnson begins a cabinet reshuffle.

Housing Minister Esther McVey and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers are also out of the government.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who attended cabinet, has resigned.

Senior figures such as Chancellor Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Home Secretary Priti Patel are expected to remain in place.

Most of the cabinet were appointed when Mr Johnson became prime minister in July.

The prime minister left his cabinet largely untouched following the Conservative Party's decisive election victory in December, pending what sources suggested at the time would be a more significant overhaul after the UK left the EU on 31 January.

Mr Johnson is expected to make changes at junior ministerial level - namely parliamentary under-secretaries of state - that could see a 50/50 gender balance in a push to promote female talent.

Education minister Chris Skidmore and transport ministers Nus Ghani and George Freeman have been sacked.

There is also a plan to make at least 60% of parliamentary private secretaries women by the summer - compared with just 18% at the moment.

There are expected to be promotions for a number of female MPs in government, including Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suella Braverman and Gillian Keegan.

Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden and International Development Secretary Alok Sharma are also expected to get more prominent roles.

A No 10 source said: "The prime minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for government now and in the future, to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years."