Ken Clarke calls Cabinet move 'a privilege' as Baroness Warsi, Cheryl Gillan and Caroline Spelman also move in reshuffle


Ken Clarke denied today that being moved from Justice Secretary to minister without portfolio was a humiliation in a Cabinet reshuffle that also saw role-changes for Baroness Warsi, Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt.

The 72-year-old Tory "big beast" told reporters: "Being offered a job in the Cabinet at my age? Don't be so daft. It's rather a privilege, I think."

His move was one of the key changes made by David Cameron to his new-look Cabinet today in a reshuffle designed to rejuvenate the coalition Government.

The veteran former chancellor is being given a roving "wise head" role with Cabinet status.

Also losing their present roles are Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi, Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.

The first two indicated their departures via Twitter while sources confirmed that Ms Spelman was set to leave the top table altogether.

Three female departures will mean Mr Cameron must recruit others from the ranks if he is to maintain his long-held desire to boost the number of women in government.

There is also a return to the front benches for former Liberal Democrat Treasury minister David Laws.

The MP, who was forced to resign over his parliamentary expenses just weeks after taking office, is in line to replace Sarah Teather as education minister, according to sources.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who has had a tough time over NHS reform, is to become Leader of the House of Commons, according to reports.

Work and pensions minister Chris Grayling is replacing Ken Clarke as Secretary of State for Justice, Downing Street said.

Answering questions outside his home, Mr Clarke was upbeat about his move from the Ministry of Justice, where his approach to sentencing of criminals drew criticism from some on the right of his own party.

He said: "I agreed with David (Cameron) when I arrived I would do it for a couple of years, that is the agreement we had when he appointed me and that is what we have stuck to.

"I'm rather pleasantly surprised he has asked me to stay on in the Cabinet doing a different role."

He added: "But I never thought I would be back in the Government in the first place and at my age you do occasionally have to step down from a heavy departmental role before you suddenly realise you can no longer quite handle it."

Asked if the reshuffle was a sign of a move to the right from the Government, Mr Clarke said: "Not remotely, no."

The details of Mr Clarke's new role were still being finalised but he told reporters it would involve the economy and security.

A planned meeting of the Cabinet today was cancelled as Mr Cameron met with senior colleagues to fit the final pieces of the complex reshuffle jigsaw into place.

But when it does meet tomorrow, there will be a raft of familiar faces sat in their usual seats after it was confirmed several key ministers will not be shifted.

Chancellor George Osborne, who was booed last night at the Paralympics, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May were already considered safe.

But senior Number 10 sources confirmed today that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Education Secretary Michael Gove would also remain in place.

"The Prime Minister considers them key reformers and he wants them to stay in place to get the job done," the source indicated.

The first confirmed appointment of the reshuffle was Andrew Mitchell as the new chief whip - a move disclosed late last night.

Mr Mitchell leaves his post as Secretary of State for International Development to replace Patrick McLoughlin, who is expected to be given a new job, in the key enforcer role for a Tory party that has become increasingly rebellious.

The reshuffle is expected to see ministerial jobs given to a raft of new faces from the 2010 intake as Mr Cameron attempts to build the team he wants around him in the run-up to the next general election.

Although both sides of the coalition have lost key cabinet ministers since the Government was formed in May 2010, this is the first major planned overhaul of the administration.

Mr Cameron has always made clear his dislike of past traditions for regular reshuffles but will hope the changes will reinvigorate his government.

Last night and this morning he held talks with colleagues in his more discreet House of Commons office - seen as a sign of delivering bad news.

He later returned to Downing Street.

Lady Warsi had appealed to the Prime Minister to allow her to carry on in the post but she was widely expected to be moved on.

The peer used her official ToryChairman Twitter account this morning to confirm she was "signing off", saying it had been "a privilege and an honour to serve my party as co-chairman".

Transport minister Theresa Villiers is replacing Owen Paterson as Northern Ireland Secretary.

Owen Paterson has moved from Northern Ireland to become Environment Secretary, Downing Street confirmed.


people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Infrastructure Lead, (Trading, VCE, Converged, Hyper V)

£600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...

Software Solution Technician - Peterborough - up to £21,000

£20000 - £21000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Solutio...

Supply teachers needed- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed Rand...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering