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Little room to manoeuvre as May reshuffles Cabinet

By Gavin Cordon

Michael Gove has made a shock return to Government as Theresa May carried out a post-election Cabinet reshuffle.

Downing Street said he had been appointed Environment Secretary, replacing Andrea Leadsom who becomes the new Leader of the Commons.

The former justice secretary was sacked by Mrs May in one of her first acts as Prime Minister after he effectively scuppered the Tory leadership hopes of Boris Johnson - his fellow Vote Leave campaigner - by withdrawing his support and announcing his own candidacy.

In a relatively limited reshuffle of her team, James Brokenshire retained his position as Northern Ireland Secretary.

The appointment of Mr Gove - who she clashed bitterly with over tackling extremism when they were in government together under David Cameron - will be seen as further evidence of Mrs May's need to shore up her position after seeing her Commons majority wiped out.

Earlier, the Prime Minister announced she was promoting Damian Green to become First Secretary of State - a title associated in the past with the position of deputy prime minister.

David Gauke - who was the Treasury chief secretary and has long been regarded as one of the Government's strongest performers - was promoted to take over at the Department for Work and Pensions.

David Lidington, the leader of the Commons, also received a step up as the new Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary.

He replaces Liz Truss who becomes Treasury Chief Secretary "attending Cabinet", in a move that will be seen as a demotion.

There had been speculation she could be axed altogether following fierce criticism from the judiciary over her failure to speak out in support of judges who were criticised over the Article 50 High Court ruling.

The decision to keep her in the Government will be seen as another indication of Mrs May's weakness following the loss of her Commons majority.

The Prime Minister had already announced that her five most senior ministers - including Chancellor Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - were carrying on in their current positions.

Mr Hammond in particular had been widely tipped for the chop in a post-election reshuffle and the announcement that he was carrying on at the Treasury underlined her limited room for manoeuvre.

Sir Patrick McLoughlin continues as Conservative Party chairman despite speculation that he could pay the price for the party's dismal showing at the ballot box.

A whole swathe of other ministers were confirmed in their existing positions, including International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Education Secretary Justine Greening, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, International Development Secretary Priti Patel, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, Welsh Secretary Alan Cairns and the Leader of the Lords Baroness Evans of Bowes Park also keep their jobs.

Gavin Williamson, who has been in Belfast conducting negotiations with the DUP on supporting a minority Conservative Government, remains as Chief Whip.

Jeremy Wright carries on as Attorney General and Brandon Lewis remains a Home Office minister although he will in future attend Cabinet.

David Mundell was confirmed as Scottish Secretary, completing the Cabinet-level appointments.

Mrs May still has a number of more junior posts to fill to replace ministers who lost their seats in the election.

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