UK Conservative MP Mark Garnier has lost his job as trade minister just weeks after being cleared by an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female member of staff. The MP tweeted his reaction to the news saying:
Last month a Cabinet Office probe in allegations Mr Garnier used derogatory language to his secretary and asked her to buy sex toys found that he did not break the ministerial code.
His dismissal today came as UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet met for the first time since a misfired reshuffle of top jobs yesterday, which saw Justine Greening walk out as education secretary rather than accept a move to work and pensions, while Jeremy Hunt turned down Ms May’s offer of the business brief, insisting instead on an expanded health and social care role.
Despite widespread criticism of the Cabinet shake-up, newly-appointed Tory chairman Brandon Lewis insisted the party is “not quite” in a mess. Mr Lewis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we have seen yesterday is a real influx of new talent, not just my position itself, obviously.”
Pressed on whether the party is in a mess, Mr Lewis replied “not quite” but admitted there was a “job of work” to be done. After the conclusion of a Cabinet Office investigation into the allegations, Ms May said that “a line should be drawn under the issue”.
Ms May was facing calls to be more courageous in bringing about change and diversity to refresh the look of the Government. After a day of little movement in the top ranks, and many social media mistakes, veteran Tory Nicholas Soames tweeted:
Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps, who was accused of trying to oust Ms May after last June’s disastrous election for the Conservatives, told BBC Newsnight: “Clearly, to be blunt, it wasn’t a brilliantly executed performance with the reshuffle today.”
There were few new faces around the Cabinet table today, as the “big four” of Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis all remained in place.
So too did Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, despite widespread speculation that Ms May would demote them.
Ms Greening, who could now become a backbench Brexit thorn in the UK Prime Minister’s side, was succeeded as Education Secretary by Damian Hinds. The job Ms Greening turned down, Work and Pensions Secretary, was given instead to Esther McVey, who triggered controversy when she was a junior minister in the department under David Cameron.
The big winner of the shake-up was former justice secretary David Lidington, who replaced Damian Green as Minister for the Cabinet Office, but was not awarded the title of First Secretary of State enjoyed by his predecessor.
However, Mr Lidington will fill in for Ms May at Prime Minister’s Questions and take on some of the responsibilities for chairing influential Cabinet committees, including some relating to Brexit.