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Cabinet reshuffle: Michael Gove replaced by Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary, Andrew Murrison moves to Northern Ireland Office - live updates from Downing Street

'Cull of grey men in suits' sees William Hague, Ken Clarke, Owen Paterson and Dominic Grieve all leave Whitehall

By Claire Cromie

Michael Gove has been demoted to Commons Chief Whip in David Cameron's brutal Cabinet reshuffle.

The former Education Secretary is highly prized by Cameron but was unpopular with teachers, with the teaching unions passing no-confidence motions in Gove and calling for his resignation last year.

The Prime Minister said of his new role: "He'll have an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews."

Nicky Morgan has been announced as his replacement, and continues as Minister for Women and Equalities.

And Liz Truss, former education minister and Shell employee, is the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Both women were tipped for ministerial roles as Cameron seeks to promote more females and young rising stars to replace the male ministers axed.

Employment minister Esther McVey, meanwhile, was expected to be promoted but instead continues as Minister for Employment and Disabilities - and will now attend Cabinet.

The cull of senior Tories saw the shock departure of William Hague from the Foreign Office and the end of Ken Clarke's lengthy ministerial career.

Philip Hammond, meanwhile, has been named the new Foreign Secretary - with Michael Fallon replacing him in Defence.

Mr Hague moves to become Leader of the Commons before standing down as an MP next year.

He replaces Andrew Lansley, and the former health secretary's ministerial future is now uncertain.

Andrew Robathan quit on Sunday night as a minister in the Northern Ireland Office. He has been replaced by Andrew Murrison - a doctor and ex-Royal Navy reserve officer.

Appointments announced this morning also include:

  • Jeremy Wright is the new Attorney General.
  • Greg Clark is Minister for Science and Universities and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office. He will attend all Cabinet meetings.
  • Stephen Crabb is to be the new Secretary of State for Wales.
  • Lord Hill of Oareford, formerly the Leader of the House of Lords, is to be Mr Cameron's nomination for European Commissioner.
  • Baroness Tina Stowell is the new Leader of the House of Lord and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
  • Matt Hancock, the skills minister, is the new Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy and will attend Cabinet.
  • Mark Harper is returning to Government as Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions. He resigned as immigration minister in February after he discovered his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK. Harper was behind the controversial "Go Home" advertising campaign targeting illegal immigration.
  • Mike Penning, former Minister of State for Northern Ireland, is the new Minister of State at the Home Office and Ministry of Justice. He will have responsibility for the police.
  • Nick Boles is Minister of State for the Business and Education departments. Part of his brief will be equal marriage implementation.
  • David Gauke is promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
  • John Hayes becomes Minister of State at Transport, while continuing his role as Cabinet Office Minister.
  • Anna Soubry is promoted to Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence.
  • Oliver Letwin remains Minister for Government Policy and becomes Lord Privy Seal.
  • Clare Perry becomes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.
  • Priti Patel becomes Exchequer Secretary at the Treasury.

Other senior casualties include chief whip Sir George Young, 72, who is retiring, while Mr Cameron is expected to confirm that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, whose allies mounted a desperate rearguard effort to save him, and Attorney General Dominic Grieve have been sacked.

Welsh Secretary David Jones was ousted by Mr Cameron, and in another surprising move, the Prime Minister was reported to have sacked senior mandarin Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister also accepted the resignations of universities minister David Willetts and energy and climate change minister Greg Barker, who will both stand down as MPs next year.

Alan Duncan left his post at international development, while news of Hugh Robertson's resignation from the Foreign Office filtered through while he was on an overseas trip in Beirut.

Nick Hurd said he was leaving his post as minister for civil society, while reports suggested policing minister Damian Green, rail minister Stephen Hammond and solicitor general Oliver Heald were all being sacked.

'Massacre of the moderates'

Labour said the reshuffle amounted to a "massacre of the moderates" and highlighted Mr Hammond's Euroscepticism.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher said: "This speaks volumes about David Cameron's leadership.

"Four years of failure to promote women and now we have the massacre of the moderates.

"Britain's foreign policy is now set to be led by a man who has talked about taking us out of the EU. The Tories are now retreating out of Europe with all the threat that poses to jobs and business in Britain.

"This reshuffle shows how weak David Cameron is, running scared of his own right wing. That's why he cannot focus on the big challenges facing families up and down the country."

Former defence secretary Liam Fox turned down the offer of a return to Government as a Foreign Office minister.

Dr Fox said: "I was honoured to be offered a post as Minister of State in the Foreign Office by the Prime Minister. I have turned it down.

"The issues that matter most to me and my constituents in North Somerset are the economy, immigration and Europe.

"I do not want to be distracted from what needs to be said on these matters at such an important time politically and look forward to discussing them from the backbenches in the lead up to the General Election."

Hague resignation a shock

William Hague’s departure from the Cabinet was unexpected.  There had been signs he would leave it after the election but his decision to quit the Commons is a surprise.

He said: "By the time of the general election next year, I will have served 26 years in the House of Commons and it will be 20 years since I first joined the Cabinet.

"In government there is a balance to strike between experience on the one hand and the need for renewal on the other, and I informed the Prime Minister last summer that I would not be a candidate at the next general election.

"Accordingly I am stepping aside as Foreign Secretary, in order to focus all my efforts on supporting the Government in Parliament and gaining a Conservative victory in the general election - after four years in which we have transformed Britain's links with emerging economies, significantly expanded our diplomatic network and the promotion of British exports, restored the Foreign Office as a strong institution, and set a course to a reformed European Union and a referendum on our membership of it.

"I am delighted to be able to serve as Leader of the House of Commons and to be able to campaign for Conservative candidates across the country. I want to finish in front-line politics as I began - speaking in Parliament and campaigning among the voters."

Mr Cameron said: "William Hague has been one of the leading lights of the Conservative Party for a generation, leading the party and serving in two Cabinets.

"Not only has he been a first class Foreign Secretary - he has also been a close confidante, a wise counsellor and a great friend. He will remain as First Secretary of State and my de facto political deputy in the run-up to the election - and it is great to know that he will be a core part of the team working to ensure an outright Conservative victory at the next election."

Ken Clarke: Big beast who served four Prime Ministers

Tory Big Beast Ken Clarke has brought an end to a ministerial career which began in 1972 - when David Cameron was just five years old.

He had already been demoted in the 2012 reshuffle, losing his post as justice secretary following a series of clashes with Home Secretary Theresa May.

Now the 74-year-old Nottinghamshire miner's son has quit as minister without portfolio, concluding a career which saw him hold government posts under four different Conservative prime ministers.

Mr Clarke's liberal attitude while justice secretary put him at odds with the formidable Mrs May, with Whitehall insiders describing the relationship as "Theresa locks them up, Ken lets them out".

He sparked fury for suggesting some rapes were not as serious as others and was forced to scrap plans to halve sentences for offenders who pleaded guilty early when the public furore led to Mr Cameron stepping in to rule out any change in the position.

He admitted he rather regretted his use of colourful language after attacking Mrs May's use of "laughable and childlike" examples to criticise the Human Rights Act after she claimed an illegal immigrant escaped being deported because he had a pet cat.

Mr Clarke continued to find himself on opposing sides to his ministerial colleagues after his demotion, particularly over the issue of Europe.

After the Prime Minister used up significant political capital in a doomed bid to stop Jean-Claude Juncker taking the European Commission presidency, Mr Clarke said he was "perfectly happy" with the appointment.

He has attacked the "eccentric" Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party and has warned of the potential dangers of leaving the European Union.

Clarke used his letter to Mr Cameron to signal his desire to campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union, ahead of the Prime Minister's promised referendum in 2017.

He said: "We must not diminish Britain's ability to influence events in the next few decades.

"I know that you are quite determined to have a referendum on the subject, in which I will be campaigning vigorously for a vote to keep us in the Union."

Mr Clarke has been an MP since 1970, but it was not until 1988 that he was promoted to the Cabinet.

Taking the reins as chancellor in 1993 after former leader John Major forced Norman Lamont to quit in the wake of Black Wednesday, he presided over a period that saw interest rates, inflation and unemployment all falling.

When the Conservative government fell in 1997 Mr Clarke was one of the first to enter the race to become the new leader - the first of three failed attempts to take the helm of the party.

His affable nature combined with his love of beer and sport have made him an often popular figure with the public, but his more liberal views on crime and strident pro-European stance have made him unpopular with many in the party.

He has also attracted controversy for his business interests, including a highly paid vice-chairmanship of British American Tobacco.

Known for his love of jazz, cigars, classic cars and Hush Puppy shoes, he is also a regular sight at Trent Bridge cricket matches and a fervent supporter of Nottingham Forest.

The MP for Rushcliffe became a Conservative at Cambridge, where he was president of the Union in 1963. While there he met his wife Gill.

Lansley to leave Parliament, by James Tapsfield

Former Cabinet minister Andrew Lansley has announced he is stepping down from Parliament at the general election and hopes to get an "international" role.

In a letter to David Cameron, the South Cambridgeshire MP said he told the Prime Minister earlier this year that he would not be seeking re-election.

"You supported my ambition to continue my life of public service in challenging and important roles," he wrote. "I am grateful to you now for expressing your support for me to take such a role in international public service in the months ahead."

The missive does not make clear what post Mr Lansley, who was replaced as Leader of the House of Commons by William Hague, is referring to.

There had been widespread speculation that he could be nominated as the UK's next European commissioner, but Mr Cameron disclosed today that the former Leader of the Lords, Lord Hill, had been put forward.

In his response to Mr Lansley, the premier wrote: "You have much more to give in terms of public service, and I look forward to being able to support you in doing so in the months and years ahead."

Downing Street declined to comment on whether Mr Lansley was being lined up for an international role.

Further reading:

William Hague stands down as Foreign Secretary 

Cabinet reshuffle: Tory minister Ken Clarke retires and David Jones sacked as Welsh secretary

Stephen Crabb: First bearded Tory since 1905

By David Hughes

The Conservative Party has a bearded Cabinet minister for the first time since 1905.

New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb ends more than a century of top-level Tory pognophobia by following in the footsteps of the 4th Earl of Onslow, who was president of the Board of Agriculture.

The revelation, from the Conservative History Group, came as Prime Minister David Cameron carried out a reshuffle designed to increase diversity within his senior ministerial team.

Mr Crabb was previously a junior minister, and Mr Cameron also had a bearded deputy chief whip in John Randall until last year.

Previous Labour administrations saw a number of bearded Cabinet ministers, with Robin Cook, Charles Clarke and David Blunkett finding facial hair no barrier to high office.

But Alistair Darling shaved his beard off, amid widely reported rumours that the razor was wielded on the advice of New Labour image-makers.

Margaret Thatcher's era was a particular low point for the political beard, with the then prime minister reported to have said she "wouldn't tolerate any minister of mine wearing a beard".

The last bearded prime minister was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who resigned in 1902.

Lord Salisbury's portrait on the Number 10 website shows him sporting a very bushy beard, in marked contrast to Mr Crabb's neatly trimmed effort.

Beard Liberation Front organiser Keith Flett said: "A beard in the Cabinet is long overdue and no doubt Mr Cameron will be secretly pleased that it is a Tory and not a Lib Dem beard.

"Many will hope that it means the Prime Minister is at last coming to understand a 'no cuts' message."

Business leaders welcome more women

By Alan Jones

Business leaders welcomed the increased number of women in the Cabinet, saying that improved diversity would benefit the running of government.

All FTSE 100 companies now have at least one female board member and there has been a big drive to boost the prospects of women being promoted to senior positions.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, said creating more gender balance was a good idea.

"If we want to engage more women in politics, we need more role models. Business has made a lot of progress, although from a very low base.

"All FTSE 100 firms have women board members, and the number of female non-executives is on track to reach 25% by 2015.

"The Government is sending a signal with these appointments, and will be better run."

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, welcomed having a greater diversity of senior decision-makers in government.

"There is a big focus in diversity in the business world, so the Government is keeping in tune with what is happening in the rest of society."

Daisy Sands, head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society, said: "Despite the inevitable heckles of tokenism and of a last-ditch attempt to appeal to women voters, the increase in women at the UK's top table of power should be welcomed as an important shift in the right direction.

"Ahead of the 2010 general election, David Cameron pledged to make a third of his ministerial list female by the end of his first term. Today's reshuffle - which takes the percentage of women in Cabinet from 14% to 26% - makes progress towards this.

"It is absolutely essential for good decision-making that women, who make up more than half the population, have a say on key issues affecting their lives and the country as a whole, be it how to rebuild the economy or whether to go to war.

"Research is clear that all organisations benefit from better representation of women by avoiding group-think and narrow perspectives."

Civil Service shake-up

By Andrew Woodcock

David Cameron is shaking up the most senior posts in the Civil Service with the creation of a new chief executive to lead the Government's programme of reform in Whitehall, Downing Street has announced.

The change comes as Sir Bob Kerslake announced his plan to step down as head of the home civil service in the autumn and to retire as permanent secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2015.

The role of head of the home civil service will be handed to Downing Street's top official, Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, and the new chief executive will report to him once appointed.

The move tears up reforms introduced by Mr Cameron in 2011, when he split the roles of Cabinet Secretary, head of the Home Civil Service and permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office on the retirement of Sir Gus O'Donnell - now Lord O'Donnell - but Downing Street rejected suggestions that it was a mark that the previous changes had failed.

The new chief executive will also run the Cabinet Office, though it is not yet clear whether he or she will also have the title of permanent secretary of the department. The current permanent secretary, Richard Heaton, will remain first parliamentary counsel.

Does Lord Hill want to be EU commissioner? Non, non non...

By Gavin Cordon

Long-time Tory insider Lord Hill of Oareford will head off to Brussels as Britain's reluctant commissioner.

Only last month David Cameron's nominee for the European Commission was adamant that he had no interest in a move across the Channel.

"Non, non, non," was his response when he was asked by the Conservative Home website about reports that he was being lined up for the post. For good measure, he added: "I quite like it at home, in the British Isles."

That he will now soon be packing his bags in preparation for a move to the Continent will only reaffirm his reputation as a man incapable of turning down a job, even if he does not really want it.

He was previously best known outside Westminster for his supposedly botched attempt to resign as education minister in Mr Cameron's 2012 reshuffle, only for the Prime Minister to ignore him, leaving him to carry on in post.

While he always insisted it was apocryphal the tale stuck - no doubt aided by his rather diffident, not to say cerebral, manner. "I'm not too active in cultivating a profile or anything at all really," he confessed in the same Conservative Home interview.

A Cambridge history graduate, Jonathan Hill cut his teeth politically in the Conservative Research Department, joining in 1985 - two years before David Cameron trod the same path - having decided that a job in the City was not for him.

A big break came the following year when he landed a plum position as special adviser Ken Clarke, then newly promoted to employment minister in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, and going on to follow his new boss to postings at health and trade and industry.

After brief stint in PR, the rsie to power of John Major saw him return to the world of politics in 1991 with a job in the No 10 Policy Unit. His next big break came on the eve of the 1992 general election when Mr Major chose him for the crucial post of political secretary.

He was at the prime minister's side throughout the campaign, and in the bitter parliamentary battles that followed with the Tory Eurosceptics over the ratification of the Maastricht treaty.

After two tumultuous years he bowed out, going back to PR, eventually establishing his own company, Quiller Consultants.

In 2010 there came a surprise return to the colours following a call from Mr Cameron who made him a junior minister in the Department for Education with a seat in the Lords as a life peer.

Despite his supposed reluctance to carry on in 2012, in January 2013 he nevertheless accepted the position of Leader of the House and a place in the Cabinet.

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