UK: Reshuffle starts in Westminster

GOVERNMENT politicians were staying close to their phones today as Prime Minister David Cameron began his first major reshuffle.

It was confirmed overnight that Ken Clarke would be leaving the Justice Ministry and that Andrew Mitchell would be the new Conservative chief whip.

Today it emerged there would be widespread cabinet changes – Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who represents a Cambridgeshire seat, was being moved to become leader of the House of Commons.

Theresa Villier is the new Northern Ireland secretary and Chris Grayling is replacing Mr Clarke as Justice Secretary.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chancellor George Osborne, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith are not expected to move.

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There is speculation that some new MPs from Suffolk could be given junior positions – but these are not expected to be announced until later today after the cabinet changes have been concluded.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has replaced Mr Lansley as Health Secretary – showing that the Prime Minister has not allowed the controversy over his links with the Murdoch empire to damage his career.

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Former chief whip Patrick McLaughlin becomes Mr Cameron’s third transport secretary – replacing Justine Greening who becomes development secrerary.

The new culture secretary is cabinet newcomer Maria Miller.

Owen Patterson is taking over as Environment Secretary – the job which includes responsibility for agriculture.

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