David Cameron's last major reshuffle before the 2015 general election is underway. The prime minister is expected to promote a series of women to senior positions in the government as veteran Conservatives are edged out. You can follow the wild speculation and comings and goings here live (ish).
David Cameron's new minister of state for science has drawn criticism online for his past support of the widely-discredited pseudo science of homeopathy.
Greg Clark MP, whose full title is Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, was among 206 MPs in 2007 who signed an early-day motion that "welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals".
David Cameron has just put the finishing touches to his reshuffle that was heavily billed as a way to add more women to the "male, pale and stale" cabinet.
Women now make up roughly a quarter of the cabinet, in contrast to the 52% share of Britain's population. But how much sway do the female cabinet ministers have in the coalition?
Out of the £360 billion across the government departments, female cabinet ministers now have a combined budget of £89.8 billion, roughly equating to a one in four pounds.
David Cameron has shaken up his top team with his last cabinet reshuffle before the 2015 general election, which was heavily trumpeted as a move to stop the cabinet looking "pale, male and stale".
But how does it really look? HuffPostUK puts Cameron's new cabinet ministers under the microscope.
David Cameron's last major reshuffle before the 2015 general election has made its big changes, with a raft of women promoted to senior positions while a range of veteran male politicians have been shown the door.
Who has survived the reshuffle? Who has been moved? HuffPost UK has rounded up the key results here.
David Cameron has nominated Conservative peer Lord Hill, most recently the leader of the House of Lords, to be Britain's next European Commissioner.
The appointment caught some by surprise given he had recently said he did not want the job. In an interview with Conservative Home in June, Hill said he did not fancy having to live in Brussels. "I quite like it at home, in the British Isles," he said.
Asked if he would accept the job if asked by the prime minister, Hill said: "Non, non, non." However the former political secretary to John Major will soon find himself on a plane to Belgium.
Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, a close ally of David Cameron, has warned disgruntled male Conservatives against venting their fury at being passed over promotion in the prime minister's ongoing reshuffle.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Zahawi, who sits on No. 10 Downing Street's policy board, urged fellow Tory MPs to remain supportive in response to the reshuffle, adding that "people don't vote for split parties".
"My advice to all colleagues is we are a team and we are stronger when we are a team and when we are united. As long as we remain united, we'll be a force to be reckoned with," he said on Monday night.
This comes as the Tory right have sounded off about some of the Prime Minister's decisions so far, with former chairman Lord Tebbit warning that the exit of Owen Paterson as environment secretary put the party's "very wide support in the countryside" at risk.
Greg Clark is the new universities minister, replacing David 'two brains' Willetts.
Former TV presenter Esther McVey, who was tipped for promotion from being employment minister, has the slightly underwhelming prize of being given the right to attend cabinet.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) July 15, 2014
David Jones looks to have been succeeded as Welsh Secretary by his deputy, Stephen Crabb.
Stephen Crabb in as new welsh secretary. Very modest arrival into Downing Street...
— Allegra Stratton (@BBCAllegra) July 15, 2014
Michael Fallon will take over from Philip Hammond as defence secretary.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) July 15, 2014
And as some have noted, he does have strong views on a range of issues.
New Defence Sec Michael Fallon is pro-homeopathy, anti-abortion, ambiguous on climate and… pro-blasphemy laws?! http://t.co/oHVYIVJnKV
— James O'Malley (@Psythor) July 15, 2014
Iain Duncan smith tells me he is staying at DWP
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) July 15, 2014
Michael Gove has been moved to become the chief whip, charged with keeping Conservative MPs in line. The prime minister said Gove would also have "an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews" as the 2015 general election draws near.
Business minister Michael Fallon may be about to be unveiled as the new defence secretary.
An appointment to cheer Tory Right: Michael Fallon will be defence secretary. Fireman Fallon has certainly earned it #reshuffle
— James Chapman (Mail) (@jameschappers) July 15, 2014
He recently has had to oversee the controversial part-privatisation of the Royal Mail.
Michael Fallon, accused of selling Royal Mail for £1bn below sticker price, now Defence Secretary.
— Peter Campbell (@Petercampbell1) July 15, 2014
Education minister Liz Truss has been drafted in to replace Owen Paterson as environment secretary, meanwhile Treasury minister Nicky Morgan has stepped up to replace Michael Gove as education secretary.
Nicky Morgan could not look happier.
— Ned Simons (@nedsimons) July 15, 2014
Stellar rise for Nicky Morgan to Education Sec. She has been been so impressive at every Commons appearance I've sat in on.
— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) July 15, 2014
Michael Gove has been moved as education secretary to being chief whip, with teaching unions expected to react with jubilation.
Michael Gove moved to a job where only fellow Tories will have to deal with him. Hurrah.
— Chris York (@ChrisDYork) July 15, 2014
Michael Gove leaves education department. Huge move. Expect jubilation from teaching unions. And doubts over future of free schools?
— James Kirkup (@jameskirkup) July 15, 2014
Clarke, after quitting the government last night on the eve of David Cameron's reshuffle, has expressed support for all-women shortlists as a way to increase the Tory party's diversity.
The former Tory chancellor told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the party was "going too slowly" in its efforts to increase the number of female candidates, admitting: "I would personally be in favour of all women shortlists, which i didn't use to be."
This is the full text of the letter written by Ken Clarke to David Cameron announcing his retirement from the Government.
I understand that you are proposing to re-shuffle the Government this week and I am writing to let you know that I would wish to retire from Ministerial office in your Government. I have greatly enjoyed my four years in your Cabinet and my spell in the National Security Council. I have been heavily engaged in some parts of my portfolio such as the EU/US Trade Agreement, economic reform in Europe, support for small business, export finance, the fight against corruption, secure hearings in Courts and so on. However, I have just celebrated my 74th birthday and I have been doing red boxes at night for a high proportion of my adult life. There are plenty of other able people who could take on the work that I was doing in Government and I think the time has come to return to being a veteran back bencher.
It has been fascinating to be in a Government that has had to face the worst financial crisis of my lifetime, and the aftermath of the deepest and longest recession since the war. I believe that we have saved the country from economic disaster, although we have a long way to go before we have the modern, healthy and competitive economy that the next generation needs. I have always been a radical reformer of public services and I think that people will look back on our achievements in modernising the Health Service and Education Service and the Welfare system in a favourable way. I also had the chance of introducing a truly radical and reforming Criminal Justice Bill which I think went some way toward paving the way for a system whereby punishment of serious criminals can properly be combined with the reform of rehabilitation to stop many of them offending again.
I intend to remain as an active back bencher in the House of Commons. My belief in Britain's membership of the European Union remains as firm as ever and I think the political and economic case is made even stronger in today's globalised economy and dangerously disturbed world. We must not diminish Britain's ability to influence events in the next few decades. I know that you are quite determined to have a referendum on the subject, in which I will be campaigning vigorously for a vote to keep us in the Union.
I wish you and all my colleagues well in their continuing efforts and will work for a Conservative success in the next Election. I will still no doubt occasionally offer you the benefit of my advice on various subjects, either from the back benches of the House of Commons or in the occasional private meeting.
Thank you very much for the privilege of serving in your Cabinet for the last four years.
RT HON KENNETH CLARKE QC MP
William Hague has quit as foreign secretary. He will also stand down from parliament in 2015. More details here.
Solicitor General Oliver Heald is also reported to have lost his job.
The Telegraph's Chris Hope reports that Greg Barker, the modernising energy minister, has quit and will also leave parliament at the next election.
According to Sky News Dominic Grieve, the rather sensible and centrist Attorney General, is another cabinet minister to have lost his job. His departure could make it easier for Cameron to promise to change Britain's relationship with the European Court of Human Rights. Grieve was deeply opposed to the UK distancing itself from international human rights law.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond is another junior minister to be leaving the government.
Police minister Damian Green is a surprise sacking in the reshuffle.
Northern Ireland minister Andrew Robathan has also quit the government.
Development minister Alan Duncan is leaving DfID. Duncan is a big supporter of the 0.7% aid target, which has proved unpopular with some Tory backbenchers. He spoke to The Huffington Post earlier this year about the irrational silliness of foreign aid critics.
Civil society minister Nick Hurd is also out. He had the tough job of delivering David Cameron's Big Society. That job was a tough enough ask to begin with, let alone after the prime minister appeared to stop caring about it.
Junior ministers are starting to drop like flies now. The Sun reports that universities minister David Willetts has quit and will also stand down from parliament. He had been tipped as a likely EU commissioner.
David Willetts quits as Minister for Universities and Science and announces he is to leave parliament next year.
— Sun Politics (@Sun_Politics) July 14, 2014
Cameron has scheduled the start of his reshuffle to clash with Boris Johnson's party for journalists. Which is no doubt entirely coincidental. The mayor seems to be having a laugh though:
Boris Johnson says he has been "waiting by the phone for the call to go to the European Commission". Nothing so far #reshuffle
— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) July 14, 2014
Tributes to Clarke's career are already coming in. Lord Howard, the former Tory leader, told BBC Radio 4's PM programme earlier: "Ken has made the most extraordinary contribution to our public life. In particular I think he was an outstanding chancellor of the exchequer. He always speaks his mind. We've been capable of maintaining a friendship over all these years despite the fact that we have quite often disagreed with each other on political issues.
Howard, who is rumoured to be being considered for the plum EU commissioner job in Brussels, added: "I think that says a great deal about the kind of person he is."