Cabinet reshuffle: Jeremy Hunt promoted to Health Secretary as Andrew Lansley and Ken Clarke are demoted


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Indy Politics

Jeremy Hunt has replaced Andrew Lansley as Health Secretary as the line-up of David Cameron’s reshuffled Cabinet begins to take shape.

Hunt, a controversial figure who came under pressure to resign as Culture Secretary earlier this year over his role in the BSkyB takeover bid, replaces Andrew Lansley, who has been demoted Commons leader, a post vacated by Sir George Young.

The demotion will serve as something of an embarrassment for Lansley who has been heavily criticised for his NHS reforms, which gave GPs control of more than £80 billion in commissioning budgets.

Hunt’s promotion into the Health Secretary role, which will see him managing a budget of more than £100 billion, is unlikely to appease critics however, following months of attacks on him for his close links to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the move is intended to allow the Government to focus on ‘delivery’, with Hunt promoted following his success helping to co-ordinate the Olympics. He is also said to be seen as a more effective communicator than Lansley.

The Hunt-Lansley move is the most significant element of the reshuffle, which also saw veteran MP Ken Clarke replaced as Justice Secretary by Employment Minister Chris Grayling. Clarke, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has accepted a role as a roving ‘wise head’.

The 72-year-old denied the move was a humiliation, telling reporters: “Being offered a job in the Cabinet at my age? Don't be so daft. It's rather a privilege, I think.“

There was also a promotion for Theresa Villiers, who replaces Owen Patterson as Northern Ireland Secretary – although Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi, Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman were among several female members of the Cabinet ousted from their roles.

There is also a return to the front benches for former Liberal Democrat Treasury minister David Laws, who will replace Sarah Teather as education minister.

While the changes are extensive, the most senior Cabinet positions are unchanged, with the Prime Minister confirming he would keep Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Education Secretary Michael Gove in place. Both are seen as ‘key reformers’ by the Cameron.

The new-look Cabinet was discussed by Mr Cameron and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, although the final decisions on each party's ministers was taken by the two leaders individually.