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May wields axe, but only one extra woman in new Cabinet

Justine GreeningNew Prime Minister Theresa May continued to wield the axe today, sacking her erstwhile rival for the job, the Justice Secretary Michael Gove, along with the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is also leaving the government. Theresa Villiers resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary after turning down the offer of an unspecified alternative job. She is replaced by James Brokenshire.

Mrs May clearly made her peace with Andrea Leadsom who becomes Environment Secretary. She withdrew from the leadership race after making comparisons with herself as a mother and Mrs May who is childless.

Another leadership rival, the Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, has resigned. He only got the job in March after Iain Duncan Smith quit over the Budget cuts on disability allowances. Mr Crabb said he was stepping down “in the best interests of my family”. This follows allegations around his private life. He is replaced by Damian Green.

Liz Truss is Mr Gove’s replacement at Justice, the first woman to hold the position. Justine Greening (pictured) is appointed to Education.

Ms Greening will take control of skills from the Department for Business which is to be reshaped as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy headed by Greg Clark.

Sajid Javid leaves his dismantled Business Innovation and Skills office to become Communities Secretary.

David Mundell holds on to his role as Scottish Secretary. Alun Cairns stays at the Welsh Department.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who is replaced by Chris Grayling, takes over as party chairman. Jeremy Hunt is remaining as Health Secretary.

Priti Patel becomes International Development Secretary. Karen Bradley is the new Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport.

Despite speculation that Mrs May would increase the number of women in Cabinet there i is just one more than in Mr Cameron’s team.

The dismissals, following Mrs May’s firing of Chancellor George Osborne (pictured) last night, take number of departures to nine and show that she wants a new shape to the government. Mr Gove’s departure brought a quick turnaround to the future of a man who only a week ago thought he might be leading rather than leaving the government.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, who is replacing Mr Osborne, has said there will be no emergency budget – which Mr Osborne had pledged – and that the Barnett Formula, which determines the budget for Scotland and other nations, which will be retained.

Boris Johnson was a surprise choice to succeed Mr Hammond at the Foreign Office.

According to sources Mr Osborne was sacked by Mrs May “who told him she didn’t want him in her Cabinet.”

Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd has been appointed Home Secretary. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will stay on in the role, while David Davis, who backed Mrs May’s leadership campaign, is given the key new role of “Brexit Secretary”. Liam Fox is appointed International Trade Secretary.

These front bench positions are therefore divided evenly between EU Leavers (Johnson, Davis, Fox) and Remainers (Hammond, Rudd, Fallon).

Skills Minister Nick Boles, who was Michael Gove’s leadership campaign manager, earlier announced he was returning to the backbenches. Alistair Burt has departed as health minister.

Mr Hammond was well-liked in the City when he was shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. He was said to have done a lot of the behind the scenes work in developing the party’s plan to tackle the country’s economic challenges.

He was largely credited with plans to cut the deficit and reduce public sector expenditure, the route which Mr Osborne embarked upon.

He is a supporter of Europe’s single market and will play a crucial role in squaring the government’s Brexit circle.

Mr Johnson’s inclusion in the team means a first Cabinet job for the former London Mayor and leading Brexiteer.

His appointment to Foreign is a key concession to the Leavers, while the Remainers know that his dislike for the EU does not extend to any dislike for Europe.  In the circumstances his gift of the gab and an ability to open doors will be seen as a positive in the forthcoming negotiations. It also rekindles the fascinating prospect of a Boris-Donald Trump meeting at some point, should the Republican candidate win the US Presidential race.

Mr Davis, however, will be the government’s chief negotiator on EU withdrawal and is said to want Article 50 – the “escape route directive” – triggered “before or by the beginning of next year”.

Mr Osborne’s departure will come as no surprise following his ill-conceived warnings of an emergency budget which Brexit supporters on the backbenches immediately threatened to vote down.

It marks a sad end, however, to a career which seemed to on an upward curve and taking him into Number 10 as David Cameron’s heir.

He now looks to be ostracised in government, his years of endeavour leaving him empty handed and possibly contemplating his departure from politics, perhaps for a role in the City.

> Comment: Does the sacking of George Osborne mean austerity is dead?

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