Justine Greening refuses new role and quits Cabinet after losing education post
Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd and David Davis all remain in their positions amid PM Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle.
Justine Greening has quit the Government after refusing to take the work and pensions post after being moved from the education portfolio, Downing Street sources said.
The move is the biggest upset of a reshuffle which saw Prime Minister Theresa May keep all the political big beasts in her Cabinet in place.
No 10 sources said Mrs May is “disappointed” but respects Ms Greening’s decision to leave the Government.
Honour & privilege to serve in Govt since 2010. Social mobility matters to me & our country more than my ministerial career. I'll continue to do everything I can to create a country that has equality of opportunity for young people & I’ll keep working hard as MP for Putney.— Justine Greening (@JustineGreening) January 8, 2018
Ms Greening was succeeded as Education Secretary by Damian Hinds, who was promoted from being a junior work and pensions minister.
The way Ms Greening left the Government could cause a headache for the PM when the Putney MP, who backed Remain in the referendum campaign, returns to the back benches.
Ms Greening had made it clear she wanted to stay in the education post in the run-up to the reshuffle amid a raft of reports that the PM was determined to move her.
In an embarrassing twist to a reshuffle beset with social media mistakes, Jeremy Hunt, who was kept on as Health Secretary with an extended social care role in the shake-up, was forced to explain why he had “liked” a tweet stating that Ms Greening had left the Government.
Mr Hunt tweeted: “Like button pressed by accident. Justine was an excellent minister and will be a great loss to govt.”
Like button pressed by accident. Justine was an excellent minister and will be a great loss to govt. https://t.co/OOjZHYlPmp— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) January 8, 2018
The post of Work and Pensions Secretary which Ms Greening turned down was given to former minister Esther McVey.
Former justice secretary David Lidington was appointed Minister for the Cabinet Office, but was not awarded the title of First Secretary of State enjoyed by his predecessor Damian Green.
It was Mr Green’s resignation after he admitted lying over pornography on his office computer that prompted the reshuffle.
But Mr Lidington will fill in for Mrs May at Prime Minister’s Questions and take on some of the responsibilities for chairing influential Cabinet committees, including some relating to Brexit.
Downing Street confirmed Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis are all keeping their current jobs.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigned from the Cabinet on grounds of ill health, weeks before major surgery for a lesion on his right lung.
Really appreciate all of the kind messages. Standing down will allow me to focus completely on my family, my health and recovering from surgery speedily so that I can get back to frontline politics as early as I can. Not quite how I thought I’d mark my 50th birthday! pic.twitter.com/EDMGBR56y6— James Brokenshire (@JBrokenshire) January 8, 2018
Mr Lidington was also named Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, replacing Sir Patrick McLoughlin, who was sacked as Conservative chairman following criticism of his role in the party’s poor performance in last year’s snap election.
Brandon Lewis has been named the new party chairman, amid farcical scenes which saw the Tories’ official Twitter account incorrectly announce that the job had gone to Chris Grayling.
Transport Secretary Mr Grayling was kept on at his department despite widespread reports that he faced the axe.
Greg Clark also retained his position as Business Secretary amid speculation he could be sacked, and Downing Street announced Claire Perry would also attend Cabinet as minister of state at the business department.
Sajid Javid has had his responsibility for housing added to his existing Cabinet title in a sign of the issue’s increasing political importance. He is now Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Gavin Williamson retains his role as Defence Secretary, which he has held for just over two months.
Former work and pensions secretary David Gauke has taken over the roles of Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary vacated by Mr Lidington.
Ex-culture secretary Karen Bradley has been moved to the politically sensitive Northern Ireland role vacated by Mr Brokenshire.
Digital minister Matt Hancock takes over from his old boss as Culture Secretary.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox all remain in the same jobs.
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park stays on as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords.
David Mundell remains Secretary of State for Scotland, and Alun Cairns stays on as Secretary of State for Wales.
Jeremy Corbyn told a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party that the reshuffle was a “pointless and lacklustre” PR stunt.
He said: “In 2018, the impact of Tory austerity is hitting home with the public, most tragically with the most serious NHS winter crisis yet.
“And yet the Government’s big plan for the new year is to dodge the real issues and reshuffle the pack in a pointless and lacklustre PR exercise.
“It’s simply not good enough. You can’t make up for nearly eight years of failure by changing the name of a department.”
Sorry to see @JustineGreening leave government - she brought her non-nonsense, northern accountant's eye to every brief and is a real role model for LGBT+ Conservatives.— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) January 8, 2018
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Sorry to see @JustineGreening leave government – she brought her non-nonsense, northern accountant’s eye to every brief and is a real role model for LGBT+ Conservatives.”
Former chancellor George Osborne tweeted: “Glad to see many of the old Treasury team thriving (and surviving) in this unusual reshuffle – well done @DavidGauke @DamianHinds @sajidjavid @GregClarkMP and my former chief of staff @MattHancock. All competent, creative, hardworking and good to work with.”
Andrea Leadsom remains Leader of the House of Commons, despite widespread speculation that Mrs May could demote her.
And Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss also stays in post.