David Gauke, a relatively unknown MP who was previously chief secretary to the treasury, has been appointed the new Work and Pensions Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.
He will take over the role from Damian Green, who will effectively function as Deputy Prime Minister in his new job as First Secretary of State and Cabinet Office Minister.
Mr Gauke, a solicitor regarded as a quietly effective performer, has been given the high-profile role at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as Ms May attempts to shore up her position in the wake of her disastrous performance in the general election.
He said he was “delighted and honoured” to have been appointed to the role.
Ms May is attempting to negotiate an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to allow her to run a minority government after she unexpectedly lost her majority, leaving the country with a hung Parliament.
Although socially conservative, the DUP is pro-welfare and is opposed to Tory manifesto proposals to means test pensioner benefits such as the winter fuel allowance.
Concessions on welfare might be one of the DUP’s conditions for propping up the Conservatives in an arrangement known as “confidence and supply” where the 10 MPs from the Northern Irish party would support the Government on a case-by-case basis, without entering into a formal coalition.
Ms May has said she intends to serve a full five year term as Prime Minister in spite of widespread speculation about how long she can last after her high-stakes gamble in calling the snap general election to “strengthen her hand” ahead of the Brexit negotiations ended in abject failure.
Notable Cabinet appointments include Ms May’s former foe Michael Gove, who returns to the fold after eleven months in back-bench exile following his decision to stand against her in last year’s Tory leadership contest.
Liz Trust has been moved from Justice Secretary to Mr Gauke’s old job as chief treasury secretary – effectively a demotion.
Commons leader David Liddington takes over as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor.
Former Chancellor George Osborne, who Theresa May sacked last year, described Ms May as a “dead woman walking” and said she was certain to be ousted as Conservative leader.
“It’s simply a question of how long she wants to remain on death row,” he said on the Andrew Marr Show.
Ms May said of her reshuffle: “Crucially I've brought in talent from across the whole of the Conservative party. We want a country that works for everyone."
"That's about delivering a successful Brexit negotiations. And those negotiations start in a week's time."
The majority of the Cabinet remains unchanged after rumoured plans for a more radical reshuffle were derailed in the fall-out from the election, where the Tories won just 318 seats.
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