Nicky Morgan will stay on as culture secretary after the former MP was appointed to the House of Lords.
In Boris Johnson’s post-election mini-reshuffle, Morgan has been made an unelected life peer, and will be called Baroness Morgan, a move which allows her to keep her Cabinet role.
Her appointment will raise suspicions that it is a ‘stopgap’ announcement until a full-blown reshuffle in the new year.
In October, Morgan announced she would quit as an MP at the election, and stressed it was time to “stand aside and be at home far more” and cited abuse suffered by politicians as a factor behind her decision.
But she raised eyebrows when she played a prominent role in the election campaign despite her apparent imminent exit from frontline politics.
She told reporters in November that she had not been offered any job or had discussions with Downing Street about a peerage after the election.
On Monday, she tweeted: “Well it turns out that leaving the Cabinet is harder than leaving the EU! Am delighted to continue as @DCMS Secretary of State as the PM focuses on delivering our mandate in the vital first weeks of this new Government.”
The Remainer, who had represented Loughborough for the Conservatives since 2010, faced an immediate backlash, with Labour branding the move “disgraceful”.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, a former shadow culture secretary, tweeted: “It stinks. You abandon your constituents, eschew the tough work of representing a constituency but remain in the Cabinet. That really is two fingers up to democracy.”
His fellow Labour MP Jo Stevens said: “Absolutely disgraceful that we in the @HouseofCommons won’t be able to scrutinise, question & challenge her on @DCMS performance.”
And the Liberal Democrat’s culture spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “This is why need reform of the House of Lords. @LibDems would create an elected upper house where this kind of sycophancy wouldn’t be rewarded.”
It comes as the government prepares a shake-up how the BBC is funded.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister is considering decriminalising non-payment of the £154.50 licence fee.
Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, told LBC on Monday morning: “We are going to look at the licence fee because we do think it is an unusual arrangement that it is criminalised.
“That’s putting a lot of pressure, which I think is unnecessary, on the criminal justice system.”
It comes after Downing Street refused to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme due to what they believe is its pro-Remain bias.
The BBC is also under pressure from Labour, following Jeremy Corbyn’s heavy election defeat.
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, this morning accused the BBC of “consciously” contributing towards Labour’s loss.
Meanwhile, Downing Street announced Simon Hart has been named Secretary of State for Wales.
The MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire replaces Alan Cairns, who was forced to stand down over his links to an aide accused of sabotaging a rape trial.