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Braintree MP James Cleverly handed promotion in cabinet reshuffle

Braintree MP James Cleverly handed promotion in cabinet reshuffle

The big victor 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.

Perhaps to prove the point that a new party chairman was needed, the Tories initially sent a tweet out congratulating Chris Grayling as the new chairman before quickly deleting it. The tweet was immediately deleted. It was one of several low points in a turbulent year for the prime minister, who took over the helm of a divided government and country in July 2016 after the European Union referendum.

Reports suggest that around half a dozen of her senior ministers could be axed or moved, with Number 10 sources indicating the more junior ministerial appointments would continue into a second day on Tuesday. Britain is due to leave the bloc in March 2019, and although it has reached agreement on the key separation issues, the toughest talks on the future relationship have yet to begin.

However, Mr Lidington will fill in for Mrs May at Prime Minister's Questions and take on some of the responsibilities for chairing influential Cabinet committees, including some relating to Brexit.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has kept his portfolio despite a series of high-profile gaffes.

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Theresa May's first major reshuffle since taking office in 2016 was also marked by the unexpected departure of Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, who quit the government on grounds of ill-health weeks ahead of major surgery for a small lesion to his right lung. He has failed to bring together feuding political parties in the British province, where the devolved government collapsed a year ago nearly to the day.

It was also briefed as an attempt to introduce new faces into the government, including more women, ethnic minorities and some newer MPs.

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps, who was accused of trying to oust Mrs 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".

Junior trade minister Mark Garnier was the first to go, tweeting that he was "very sad to have lost my job" but would support the government from the backbenches of the House of Commons.