WILLIAM HAGUE sacked Peter Lilley as deputy leader of the Conservative Party yesterday as he injected new blood into his frontbench team in a wide-ranging reshuffle. The Tory leader showed a ruthless streak by punishing Mr Lilley for plunging the party into chaos in April by making a speech renouncing a Thatcherite, free-market approach to public services.
Last night Mr Hague's allies insisted he had decided to take over responsibility for the party's wholesale policy review from Mr Lilley before the controversial speech. But the affair cost Mr Lilley his post as deputy leader, as predicted in The Independent. He will not be replaced.
Mr Lilley, a successful Social Security Secretary who failed to adjust well to opposition, went loyally. He told Mr Hague months ago he was happy to return to the back benches. In his resignation letter yesterday, he hailed the Tory victory in the European Parliament elections as a "turning point" for the party.
Mr Hague signalled his intention to make Europe the defining issue at the next general election by promoting several Eurosceptics. The four new faces in the Shadow Cabinet are Andrew Lansley, the architect of the hardline Euro campaign, who will work with Mr Hague on the policy review and shadow Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet's "enforcer"; Theresa May, who becomes chief spokesman on education; Angela Browning (trade and industry) and Bernard Jenkin (transport).
Yesterday's shake-up means only two members of John Major's 1997 Cabinet - Mr Hague and Sir George Young - remain in the Shadow Cabinet. Four frontbenchers stood down at their own request, Michael Howard, Sir Norman Fowler, Gillian Shephard and Sir Nicholas Lyell, who is replaced as shadow Attorney General by Edward Garnier.
Mr Hague's aides said he regarded the new Tory team as "very much in his own image" and the one that would fight the next election. Ann Widdecombe, one of the Shadow Cabinet's few shining stars, is rewarded with a promotion from health to shadow Home Secretary, the job she wanted. A supporter of capital punishment, she will take a hard line on law and order issues.
In a "horses for courses" reshuffle, Liam Fox, a former GP, becomes health spokes- man, and Iain Duncan Smith, a former Scots Guards captain, moves from social security to defence. He succeeds John Maples, who wins a surprise promotion to the post of shadow Foreign Secretary. His pro-EU views were tempered on "Black Wednesday" in 1992, when he had to defend the Government's exit from the exchange-rate mechanism
John Redwood, who had hoped to stay in trade and industry, was moved to shadow John Prescott's Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. David Willetts was switched from education to social security.
Michael Ancram remains Tory party chairman after Michael Portillo, the former cabinet minister who lost his seat at the 1997 general election, rejected overtures from Hague allies who would have loved him to return to the political frontline.
Archie Norman, the Asda supermarket boss and a Euro-sceptic, will be Tory frontbench spokesman on Europe, with a brief to persuade British businessmen to reject the single currency. Lord Saatchi, to be a Treasury spokesman in the Lords, will perform a similar role.
Labour claimed Mr Hague had created the "most right-wing" Tory frontbench team in living memory.
New Shadow Cabinet Members
Rewarded for being architect of Tory triumph in last week's Euro elections. Dubbed "Andrew Landslide." Will now play central role in Hague team. Aged 42. Was made a Tory vice-chairman last year.
Makes a comeback only a year after leaving Tory front bench to look after her adult son Robin, a sufferer from a form of autism. Now shadow Trade and Industry Secretary. Aged 54. She has strong Eurosceptic views.
Entered Parliament only two years ago as MP for Maidenhead. Now achieves full shadow cabinet rank as shadow Education and Employment Secretary. Aged 42. Seen as a "Thatcher with a heart".
Promoted from junior transport spokesman to shadow Transport Secretary. Hardline Eurosceptic. Member of Thatcherite No Turning Back group. Once said: "I used to be a wet but I'm all right now." Aged 40.
The Full List
Leader of the Opposition: William Hague
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Francis Maude
Party Chairman: Michael Ancram
Home Affairs: Ann Widdecombe
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: John Maples
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Constitutional Affairs: Sir George Young
Environment, Transport and the Regions: John Redwood
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury: David Heathcoat-Amory
Defence: Iain Duncan Smith
Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Lord Strathclyde
Northern Ireland: Andrew Mackay
Social Security: David Willetts
Health: Dr Liam Fox
Culture, Media and Sport: Peter Ainsworth
International Development: Gary Streeter
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Tim Yeo
Trade and Industry: Angela Browning
Education and Employment: Theresa May
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Policy Renewal: Andrew Lansley
Transport: Bernard Jenkin
Chief Whip: James Arbuthnot (Commons); Lord Henley (Lords)
Shadow Attorney General (Not a member of Shadow Cabinet but attends all meetings): Edward Garnier
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