Jacob Rees-Mogg made Brexit opportunities minister as Boris Johnson reshuffles top MPs

Politics

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been made minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency in a mini-reshuffle as Boris Johnson fights for his premiership.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who was leader of the Commons, will remain a member of the cabinet in his new role, Downing Street said.

Both of his new jobs have been newly created as the PM continues with Brexit negotiations and after promising to ensure there is more of a connection between backbenchers and the cabinet following several Tory MPs calling for his resignation over the partygate scandal.

Taking over Mr Rees-Mogg’s roles as lord president of the council and leader of the Commons is Mark Spencer, who has been moved from his role as chief whip. He will still attend cabinet.

Chief Whip Mark Spencer in Downing Street, London. The Prime Minister is set to face further questions over a police investigation into partygate as No 10 braces for the submission of Sue Gray's report into possible lockdown breaches. Picture date: Wednesday January 26, 2022.
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Mark Spencer has been fired as chief whip

Mr Spencer, MP for Sherwood since 2010, is understood to have been sidelined over recent weeks as a “shadow” whipping operation took over to shore up support from potential rebel MPs following the partygate scandal.

Chris Heaton-Harris, who was minister for Europe, has been made chief whip so will take on the task of getting Conservative MPs to vote with the government.

He was a Brexit minister under Theresa May, when he was also a whip and deputy leader of the House of Commons.

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Mr Heaton-Harris was a Member of the European Parliament before he became MP for Daventry in 2010, when he also became chair of the European Research Group, the g

Chris Heaton-Harris was a whip in Theresa May's government
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Eurosceptic MP Chris Heaton-Harris was a whip in Theresa May’s government

Stuart Andrew, the MP for Pudsey, has been made minister for housing in Michael Gove’s department for levelling up, housing and communities. He was deputy chief whip before.

The mini reshuffle comes after the prime minister appointed a new director of communications and chief of staff, following a significant exodus of staff last week.

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‘PM doesn’t listen to his advisors’

Resignations and new appointments

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay has been made the PM’s new chief of staff and former BBC journalist and long-time ally Guto Harri as his director of communications.

Number 10 revealed last Thursday that Dan Rosenfield, the PM’s chief of staff, and Martin Reynolds, Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary, would be leaving their roles.

Two other key advisers to Mr Johnson – press chief Jack Doyle and policy chief Munira Mirza – have also resigned, with Mr Mirza citing the PM’s Jimmy Savile slur against Sir Keir Starmer.

A fifth aide, Elena Narozanski, quit Number 10 on Friday.

And a good friend of the PM’s wife Carrie Johnson, Henry Newman, has also left the Number 10 operation to join Mr Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Pressure remains on the PM, with two more Conservative MPs calling for him to quit on Friday. Both former minister Nick Gibb and Aaron Bell said they have submitted letters of no confidence in his leadership.

This brings the total number of MPs who have now called for the PM to go to 14 – although not all have formally communicated this to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

A leadership vote will be triggered if Sir Graham receives letters from 54 MPs, 15% of the parliamentary party.

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