The chancellor's reshuffle: Osborne extends his control

Osborne extends his grasp: The chancellor's reshuffle
Osborne extends his grasp: The chancellor's reshuffle
Ian Dunt By

Allies of George Osborne were given noticeable promotions in today's government reshuffle, as the chancellor extended his control over ministerial appointments.

In a series of moves which will cement the impression of Osborne as a chancellor who takes care of his allies, Greg Hands, Sajid Javid  and Matthew Hancock were handed rewards for their loyalty.

Hands worked for Osborne in opposition but missed out on a ministerial position after the formation of the coalition.

Osborne made him his parliamentary private secretary, before sending him to the whips' office as Treasury whip.

He has now been given the role of deputy chief whip, replacing John Randall.

Randall's departure could be a preparatory move in advance of the return of former chief whip Andrew Mitchell.

Randall and Mitchell had a difficult working relationship, with Randall then playing a lead role in the 'plebgate' debacle.

With Sir George Young only expected to stay in the chief whip role until next summer, Hands could replace him within a year.

Hands' rise in the whips' office sees the chancellor significantly extend his control over government business.

Javid, another former parliamentary private secretary to the chancellor, was made financial secretary, where he will continue working on his Lloyds and RBS briefs.

The former investment banker, whose father was a Bangladeshi bus driver, is tipped for big things in the Conservative party, with some even suggesting he could be a future leadership contender.

Hancock, a former chief of staff for Osborne, was promoted from a parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Business to minister of state for skills and enterprise.

Chloe Smith, who never recovered from a wounding interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, left her role as a Treasury minister.

"I have been privileged to serve my country and my party under your leadership," she wrote to the prime minister.

"However, for the remainder of the parliament I want to be able to spend more time serving my constituents."

For a few hours that left no women at the Treasury, but by midday Nicky Morgan was appointed economic secretary.

Greg Clark left from the Treasury but he kept his brief on cities intact, which he will follow as cities and constitution minister.

The signs of Osborne's fingerprints on the reshuffle suggest that a meeting he held with whips in Dorneywood last March to identify rising stars led to concrete results.

Government sources briefed that this was to be the reshuffle for 'women and northerners', in a bid to get more diverse voices into ministerial positions.

The prime minister needs to keep hold of seats like Lancaster and Fleetwood, Stockton South and Carlisle if the Conservatives have any hope of keeping a majority at the next election.

Labour has a 30-point lead in the north, compared to a ten point lead in the country in general.

But the diversity message did not quite chime with the sacking of employment minister Mark Hoban, a northerner educated at a comprehensive school.

After 12 years on the front benches, he said it was "not his finest day".

However, Liverpool-born former GMTV presenter Esther McVey won a promotion to employment minister at the Department of Work and Pensions.

McVey impressed with her sensitive handling of the position of minister for disabled people, as she made the controversial case for reform of disability benefits.

Mike Penning will be joining McVey with a ministerial post at the DWP.

Conservative Richard Benyon will be leaving his post as fisheries minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


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