Coffee House

The 2014 government sackings – as they happened

14 July 2014

For all of today’s reshuffle updates, including the new appointments and podcast reactions, follow our liveblog here.

23.44 That’s it for tonight. We’ll be back at 6am tomorrow, with more news of the reshuffle. Will Esther McVey, Liz Truss and Priti Patel become the new faces of David Cameron’s government? And will any of them much welcome the idea that this is a mission to bring more women into Westminster? Join us tomorrow to find out.

23.22 Dear John letters: The Prime Minister has written to the seven ministers who resigned. His hand will be rather sore after all of this sacking. Here’s what he wrote to each of them:

1) To Kenneth Clarke (Minister without Portfolio):

‘Since you first entered Parliament in 1970, and over forty years since your first Front Bench role as a PPS, your passion for getting things done and the energy you have brought to your Cabinet posts has not diminished one bit. Indeed, it is now a quarter of a century since your first Cabinet position. To have that level of experience at my own Cabinet table has been incredibly helpful – both to me as Prime Minister and to the whole Cabinet.

You have never been timid to raise issues of importance or to stand up for causes that matter to you, but you have also brought a keen sense of humour to the Cabinet table – and you will be hugely missed.’

2) To George Young (Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury):

‘You stepped into the breach as Chief Whip at a very sensitive time and have given exemplary service in this role, as I knew you would. I remain incredibly grateful to you for agreeing to return to Government and for the further contribution you have made.

You have been the most loyal and dependable of colleagues, a calm and knowledgeable presence at the heart of our Government. I will always appreciate your sage and reliable advice.’

3) To David Willetts (Minister of State, BIS):

‘I was delighted when you agreed to join my Shadow Team in 2005 and the Government in 2010. I have been proud to have “two brains” at the heart of my team, both in Opposition and in Government and you, in turn, can take enormous pride in the contribution you have made.

Your work championing the Eight Great Technologies, the space industry, and long-term capital has truly solidified the UK as the best place in the world to do science and innovation. You have also been integral to our Higher Education reforms, particularly by leading our removal of the student numbers’ cap, which will have a transformative effect on the sector.’

4) To Alan Duncan (Minister of State, DFID):

‘You have continued your service on the Conservative Front Bench with a number of significant portfolios, making an outstanding contribution, both in Opposition and – over the past four years – in Government at the Department for International Development. This has been a perfect fit and your enthusiasm and commitment to the role has shone through.

In particular, I have greatly admired the passion and expertise you have brought to our work in the Middle East, which has done much to enhance the UK’s reputation in the region. It is a legacy to be proud of.’

5) To Hugh Robertson (Minister of State, FCO):

‘You have served our Front Bench continuously for over a decade, and made an outstanding contribution, both in Opposition and – over the past four years – in Government. No more so than your pivotal role helping to organise the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. You were able to participate in the preparations of the greatest sporting event in the world from bid to completion, and the start of the legacy beyond. But that in itself does not do justice to the role you played, helping ensure that London 2012 was the most spectacular and well-organised Olympics in history.

More recently, I would like to recognise the calm and sensitive way in which you have dealt with the many complex and dangerous challenges we have faced in the Middle East.’

6) To Andrew Robathan (Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office):

‘I have been proud to have you on my Front Bench, loyally serving as Deputy Chief Whip in Opposition and, in Government, as a Minister in two challenging portfolios where you have been able to bring your steady hand and experience of military service to bear.

You can be enormously proud of your achievements in Government and your contribution to our country.’

7) To Gregory Barker (Minister of State, DECC:

‘You have served continuously on the Conservative Front Bench for over a decade and I hope you can be enormously proud of all you have achieved over the years covering the related briefs of Environment and, more recently, Climate Change.

In particular, you have led successful investment into our energy infrastructure, making the UK a world-leader in renewable technology. You have established the Green Investment Bank, and mobilised over £3 billion investment into our renewables sector last year alone.’

23.09 Are some major shifts in European policy looming? James has an update on what Philip Hammond‘s promotion means for the EU.

James_Forsyth-60x84Philip Hammond‘s promotion to Foreign Secretary means that we now have a Foreign Secretary who is on the record as saying he would vote to leave the EU unless substantial powers are returned. This is a major challenge to Foreign Office orthodoxy.

Hammond isn’t the kind of politician to set the heather alight. He’s not an exciting figure or a man who delivers brilliant speeches. I suspect that Cameron has sent him to the Foreign Office as a safe pair of hands.

But the fact that someone who has said that they’d vote to leave if substantial powers were not returned to the UK in the renegotiation is now Foreign Secretary sends a clear message to the rest of the EU about the British position. Combine this with Dominic Grieve‘s departure as Attorney-General, which paves the way for the Tories to propose leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, and this reshuffle could be the precursor to some major shifts in European policy.

Here’s the BBC clip, in which Philip Hammond tells the Spectator’s Andrew Neil that the EU ‘is going to change':