Three women were handed Cabinet roles today as David Cameron took dramatic steps to give a female-friendly face to his top team.
All were elected for Parliament for the first time in 2010 and will become key figures in next year’s Tory general election campaign.
In the most eye-catching appointment, Nicky Morgan, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, succeeded Michael Gove as Education Secretary. She will also retain her current portfolio as Minister for Women.
Her elevation will be seen as an attempt to build bridges with the teaching unions following a break-down of relations with Mr Gove. Tory sources insisted, however, that Mrs Morgan would build on her predecessor’s reform agenda.
Liz Truss was appointed Environment Secretary in succession to Owen Paterson. She had impressed as the education minister responsible for childcare, traditionally a strong issue for Labour.
Esther McVey will remain as Minister for Employment and Disabilities but will attend Cabinet meetings. The former television presenter is seen as a strong media performer and rare northern “voice” in senior Tory ranks.
A series of other women MPs are due to be appointed to middle-ranking government positions later today. They include the whips Amber Rudd and Harriett Baldwin, the defence minister Anna Soubry and Margot James and Priti Patel, who are members of the Downing Street policy board.
The promotions are aimed to bring Mr Cameron close to his target of filling one-third of ministerial positions with women.