PHILIP Hammond has been appointed to replace William Hague as Foreign Secretary, in the most high-profile change of a reshuffle designed to refresh David Cameron’s Cabinet in the run-up to next year’s general election.
Former energy minister Michael Fallon has replaced Hammond as Defence Secretary.
And, in a surprise move, Education Secretary Michael Gove was moved to Chief Whip, with a brief to push the Government’s message on the TV and radio.
Mr Cameron was engaged today in a rapid round of meetings with ministers at 10 Downing Street, amid expectations that he will promote a number of women and younger MPs to his top team.
The shake-up began last night with the resignations of veteran ministers including europhile Kenneth Clarke and 72-year-old chief whip Sir George Young, as well as the surprise departure from the Foreign Office of Mr Hague, who moves to become Leader of the Commons before standing down as an MP next year.
Mr Cameron was using Twitter to announce changes.
Shortly after tweeting that Mr Hammond was the new Foreign Secretary, he announced: “Michael Gove is Commons Chief Whip. He’ll have an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews.”
Treasury minister Nicky Morgan, 41, who replaces Mr Gove as Education Secretary, is expected to be one of a number of women and younger MPs being promoted by Mr Cameron, in a bid to counter perceptions that his Cabinet is too “male, pale and stale”.
And Liz Truss becomes the youngest member of Cabinet at 38 after being appointed Environment Secretary to replace Owen Paterson, who ran into trouble over the failed badger cull and his handling of the winter floods, as well as antagonising green groups with his scepticism about man-made climate change.
Mr Gove’s move to Chief Whip will be seen in Westminster as a demotion from a job in which he has shown a personal passion for free schools and stringent academic standards but has met fierce opposition from teaching unions.