UK Politics

Michael Moore axed as Scottish secretary in coalition reshuffle

Michael Moore has been replaced by Alistair Carmichael as secretary of state for Scotland in a wide-ranging reshuffle of Conservative and Lib Dem ministers in the coalition government.

Mr Moore said he was "disappointed" but would continue to back the UK ahead of next year's independence referendum.

Ex-journalist Esther McVey is among several female Tory MPs to be promoted as David Cameron freshened up his team.

Ed Miliband has also carried out a major shake-up of Labour's frontbench.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has been replaced by historian Tristram Hunt while Jim Murphy, another senior figure regarded as being on the right of the party, is moved from defence to international development.

But Andy Burnham is to stay as shadow health secretary.

Mr Moore was the only cabinet minister to lose his job in Monday's coalition reshuffle, which has largely focused on middle-ranking and junior ministerial positions.

Helen Grant, Esther McVey and Nicky Morgan (left to right)
Helen Grant, Esther McVey and Nicky Morgan (from left to right)

In other notable government changes:

  • Sajid Javid is promoted from junior Treasury minister to Financial Secretary
  • Nicky Morgan, Esther McVey and Helen Grant are promoted while Jane Ellison becomes public health minister
  • Mike Penning is promoted to minister of state for Work and Pensions from Northern Ireland brief
  • Hugh Robertson moves to Foreign Office while Andrew Robathan goes to Northern Ireland
  • George Eustice, Kris Hopkins and Shailesh Vara all get first-time government jobs while Robert Goodwill becomes a transport minister
  • Conservatives Alistair Burt, Mark Prisk, Mark Hoban and Richard Benyon all stand down
  • Lib Dem Norman Baker replace Jeremy Browne at Home Office while Baroness Kramer, Dan Rogerson and Stephen Williams all get jobs

Reacting to his sacking, Mr Moore said the future of the UK was "bigger than one individual or party" and he believed those wanting Scotland to remain as part of the union were "winning the argument".

Mr Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has been the Lib Dems' chief whip and a government deputy chief whip since the formation of the coalition.

He was previously the party's Scottish spokesman.

The BBC's chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, said the move could be explained by David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's desire to have a more combative figure in the job to take the fight to SNP leader Alex Salmond.

Announcing the change, Mr Clegg said Mr Moore had done a "formidable" job but that he believed "we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself".

'Difficult'

News on the ministerial reshuffle was broken via the No 10 Twitter site.

Five women MPs have joined the government while three have been promoted.

Former broadcaster Esther McVey has been elevated from her role as junior disabilities minister in the Department of Work and Pensions to minister of state, with responsibility for employment.

Nicky Morgan, previously a government whip, joins the Treasury as economic secretary while Justice minister Helen Grant moves to the Department for Culture, taking on responsibility for sport and tourism as well as equalities.

Anna Soubry moves from health to defence while Jane Ellison takes her role as public health minister. Claire Perry and Amber Rudd have joined the government as whips while current whip Karen Bradley is promoted.

Also on the rise is Matt Hancock, a close ally of Chancellor George Osborne, who stays within the Department for Business but with a wider brief encompassing skills and enterprise.

And fresh faces in the government include George Eustice, David Cameron's former press secretary, at environment, Shailesh Vera at justice and Kris Hopkins at local government.

'Moving out'

Among those being axed include Housing minister Mark Prisk, Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and Treasury Minister Mark Hoban, who tweeted that it was not his "finest day".

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said the government's reshuffle was "designed to support hardworking people" and he accused Labour leader Ed Miliband of "purging moderates" in his party.

Lib Dem Jeremy Browne, previously regarded as a close ally of Nick Clegg, was a surprising casualty after he was replaced at the Home Office by Norman Baker.

Writing to Mr Browne, Mr Clegg said: "It is always very difficult to move colleagues out of government but as you know, I have always been keen that we provide the opportunity for as many in our ranks as possible to contribute their skills to ministerial office during this Parliament."

Lib Dem peer Baroness Kramer, who lost her seat at the 2010 election, becomes a transport minister while Stephen Williams and Dan Rogerson get junior ministerial jobs at local government and environment respectively.

A number of Conservative ministers resigned from the government over the weekend in anticipation of the reshuffle, with Mr Cameron looking to reshape his lower and middle ranks.

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