Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024

Sunak to carry out a ‘full reshuffle’ to freshen up his Cabinet for the election

Rishi Sunak could delay a major cabinet reshuffle until the autumn.

The Daily Express understands the widely expected shake-up pencilled in for the start of next month – when MPs return from the summer parliamentary recess – will now be “a few tweaks”.

He will then carry out a “full reshuffle” later in the year in preparation for next year’s expected gruelling election run-in.

Reports suggest this will be after the Conservative Party conference at the beginning of October and could even take place after the King’s Speech in November.

The Prime Minister is anxious to reinvigorate his Cabinet to get it “election-ready”. Initially, then, he will replace Ben Wallace, who is standing down as Defence Secretary.

READ MORE Rishi Sunak to delay large Cabinet reshuffle until the winter

John Glen, the chief secretary to the treasury and a Sunak loyalist, is the favourite for the hugely significant defence role.

Mr Wallace announced earlier this year that he is stepping away from politics and will stand down as an MP at the next election.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat, James Heappey, the Armed Forces Minister and former Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt have also been touted as candidates by insiders.

If Mr Glen is promoted Claire Coutinho, an education minister, is said to be in line to take his job.

With the country’s economic fortunes on the long, slow road to recovery Mr Sunak is “unlikely to upset the apple cart” and sack Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, according to sources.

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But several other senior cabinet ministers could lose their jobs in what is expected to be a “bold” reshuffle.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey is widely expected to be shuffled out and the PM is weighing up the future of experienced ministers such as Michael Gove, Grant Shapps and Steve Barclay – all allies.

Mr Gove, who is seen as the “swiss army knife” of the Cabinet, is said by some inside government to be eyeing up a move to one of the “great offices of state” such as Home Secretary.

The knives are out for the current incumbent, Suella Braverman, amid frustration over her handling of the migrant boat crisis.

But allies point to the fact that migrant crossings are down on last year and that she has been held up by “meddling lawyers and judges”.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick will be hoping for a return to the Cabinet table.

One government insider said: “Rishi has a strategic plan to put the government on the front foot and get his top team election ready. He could make a few tweaks in the coming weeks and go for a full reshuffle later in the Autumn.”

Another source said: “Whenever it happens it will be bold and effective. I think it’s unlikely he’ll ditch Jeremy Hunt or anything like that but there will be changes.”

Much of the movement in the reshuffle could be among the junior ministerial ranks as a number of ministers have been considering standing down so they can save their seat by stepping up local campaigning. Others in line for promotion are said to include Laura Trott and Laura Farris.

A Tory source said: “As with all reshuffles you never know when or what is going to happen. But there are certain things you know will happen like Michael Gove wanting and thinking he should be given a ‘big’ job. He’s like a swiss army knife, he thinks he can do everything.”

They added: “There are a lot of talented younger ministers like Claire Coutinho coming through who I expect will get their chase to shine.”

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