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Political cabinet role for Boris

Boris Johnson has been handed a role in David Cameron's political cabinet but will not have a ministerial job while he remains mayor of London.

The announcement came as Mr Cameron concluded a "steady-as-she-goes" post-election reshuffle, which saw the most senior jobs remain in the same hands as the Prime Minister created his first Conservative-only Cabinet.

In eye-catching moves, Sajid Javid took the role of Business Secretary previously held by Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, with former Commons Culture Committee chairman and critic of the BBC licence fee John Whittingdale taking his old job as Culture Secretary.

Eric Pickles lost his job of Communities and Local Government Secretary to former universities minister Greg Clark, amid unconfirmed reports that the former Tory chairman is to join Mr Cameron's Holocaust Commission as well as becoming anti-corruption tsar.

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd entered Cabinet for the first time, moving upwards within the Department for Energy and Climate Change from a junior ministerial position to the Cabinet-level Secretary of State role vacated by Lib Dem Ed Davey, who lost his seat last week.

Ms Rudd is one of a number of additional women attending Cabinet, though only she and Leader of the Lords Baroness Stowell took on full membership status.

The Conservatives' only surviving MP north of the border, David Mundell, became Scotland Secretary, filling another post formerly held by Lib Dems. Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands was appointed to Danny Alexander's former job of Chief Secretary to the Treasury - effectively deputy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer - but the role was downgraded, as he will attend Cabinet but not have full Cabinet membership.

George Osborne had already been confirmed as Chancellor, Theresa May as Home Secretary, Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary and Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary the day after the May 7 election.

They were joined by Jeremy Hunt, who remains Health Secretary, Nicky Morgan, who keeps the education brief and Iain Duncan Smith, who stays at the Department for Work and Pensions with the task of delivering the £12 billion of welfare cuts promised by the Tories in their manifesto. Patrick McLoughlin remains at transport, Liz Truss at environment, Theresa Villiers at Northern Ireland and Stephen Crabb at the Wales Office.

It had already been announced that Michael Gove is returning to the top of government - moving from chief whip to Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary at the expense of Chris Grayling, who becomes Leader of the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson - who arrived at Downing Street clutching a cycle helmet - had not been expected to take a big spending department while still London mayor, and Mr Cameron said that he would "devote his attention" to his mayoral duties until the end of his term at City Hall in May 2016.

The political cabinet which he will join includes all the key figures at the top of the Government but excludes civil servants as matters discussed are party political. No minutes are taken at the meetings, expected to take place fortnightly at 10 Downing Street following the weekly meeting of the full Cabinet, which formally agrees policy and sits at the heart of government.

A spokesman for the mayor - and newly-elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip - said: " This is not a ministerial appointment. He won't be attending full Cabinet and won't be running any department. The mayor has always been clear, he has to fulfil his mandate running London first, and that's exactly what he will be doing until his term ends in May 2016."

Mr Javid's appointment was welcomed by business, with CBI director general John Cridland describing him as "a strong voice for the business community". John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said his priorities should be "kick-starting a revolution in exports, and working with us to ensure that firms can get new recruits with the skills and motivation to get ahead in the world of work".

The BBC said it was "looking forward" to working with Mr Whittingdale, who last year described the BBC licence fee as "worse than a poll tax" and said it was "unsustainable" in the long run and needed tweaking immediately. The 10-yearly renegotiation of the BBC's Royal Charter - which expires at the end of December 2016 - will be at the top of his in-tray as Culture Secretary.

In other appointments, Oliver Letwin has been promoted to be full member of Cabinet and will be in overall charge of the Cabinet Office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Former business minister Matt Hancock becomes Paymaster General at the Cabinet Office with responsibility for efficiency and Civil Service reform, and will attend Cabinet.

Witham MP Priti Patel will replace Esther McVey, who lost her seat, as employment minister. She will attend Cabinet but will hold the rank of minister of state.

Anna Soubry has been moved sideways from minister of state for defence to minister of state in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where she will have responsibility for small business. She will attend Cabinet.

Mark Harper, who quit as immigration minister over the work status of his cleaner, takes over from Mr Gove as chief whip.

Robert Halfon, who was the Chancellor's parliamentary private secretary (PPS) in the last parliament, has been appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Mr Cameron confirmed that his older people's tsar Ros Altmann is to become pensions minister at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Prime Minister announced before the election that he intended to make the prominent pensions campaigner a member of his Government, with responsibility for financial consumer protection and financial education.

However, the removal of Liberal Democrats from government has freed up the more senior role of pensions minister, previously held by Steve Webb, who lost his seat last Thursday. Dr Altmann is expected to be made a Conservative peer in order to take up the position.

Penny Mordaunt - best known to TV viewers for her appearance in swimming costume in the reality show Splash - becomes the first woman to hold the post of armed forces minister.

Former armed forces minister Mark Francois moves to the Department for Communities and Local Government as minister of state.

In other moves, Mr Johnson's younger brother, Jo, becomes Universities and Science Minister, John Hayes is Security Minister, Alistair Burt is minister of state at the Department of Health, and Philip Dunne is promoted to Defence Procurement Minister at the Ministry of Defence.


From Belfast Telegraph