Mixed day for East Anglian MPs amid Downing Street drama
PUBLISHED: 17:44 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:57 13 February 2020
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There were mixed fortunes for the region’s MPs during a day of high drama in Downing Street.
Most East Anglian MPs with ministerial responsibilities dodged the axe during the prime minster's reshuffle but Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman was sacked from his transport brief.
After learning his fate the former chairman of the Number 10 policy board under Theresa May tweeted that he was "on his bike."
He added: "It's been a huge privilege to shape the new Future Of Transport Strategy at @transportgovuk @grantshapps & brilliant DFT team, & help the PM make this an inspiring @OneNationCons government of renewal. Sad not to be part of it."
And it was a big day for Norwich North MP Chloe Smith who becomes minister of state for the constitution and devolution.
Meanwhile Liz Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk who had been tipped for a demotion, kept her job as secretary of state for international trade.
In Suffolk Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) held on to her brief at the Department for Work and Pensions and Matt Hancock stays as health secretary.
Great Yarmouth MP and former party chairman Brandon Lewis will take over from sacked minister Julian Smith as secretary of state for Northern Ireland. Witham MP Priti Patel also remains as home secretary.
But the major shock of the day was the refusal of now former chancellor Sajid Javid to fall in line with demands from Number 10 to sack his backroom staff.
Boris Johnson ordered Mr Javid to fire his closest aides and replace them with advisers chosen by Number 10.
The former chancellor chose to quit instead and was replaced by his former deputy at the Treasury Rishi Sunak.
Mr Sunak will take the job having agreed to a joint Number 10-Number 11 team of aides.
The bombshell - less than a month before the Budget - follows tensions between Mr Javid and Mr Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings.
In August Mr Cummings fired Mr Javid's aide Sonia Khan and it appears Number 10 wanted to go further in keeping a closer eye on the chancellor.
Mr Javid said that "no self-respecting minister" could accept the conditions being imposed.
"He has turned down the job of chancellor of the exchequer," a source close to Mr Javid said.
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"The prime minister said he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with Number 10 special advisers to make it one team.
"The chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms."
Before the explosive meeting with Mr Johnson, Mr Javid had walked smiling into Number 10 in a sign that he expected to remain in place ahead of the March 11 Budget.
Mr Javid said: "It has been a huge honour to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer and while I was very pleased that the prime minister wanted to reappoint me I was unable to accept the conditions that he had attached."
Mr Javid's departure came after:
- Julian Smith was unceremoniously dumped as Northern Ireland secretary
- Andrea Leadsom was sacked as business secretary
- Theresa Villiers lost her job as environment secretary
- Geoffrey Cox was sacked as attorney general
- Esther McVey lost her job as housing minister.
But along with the ministerial exits, the reshuffle - which Downing Street insiders had predicted would be "conventional" before the row with Mr Javid - saw promotions for MPs who are highly rated by Number 10.
Alok Sharma was promoted from international development to become the new business secretary and he will also be minister for the Cop26 UN climate summit.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan joins the cabinet as international development secretary, having previously been a defence minister.
Oliver Dowden has become a full cabinet member as culture secretary having previously attended the meetings as paymaster general.
George Eustice was promoted to environment secretary from his previous role in the same department.
Former Brexit minister Suella Braverman returns to the government as attorney general.
Ex-Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay replaces Mr Sunak as Treasury chief secretary.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and justice secretary Robert Buckland were all confirmed in their existing roles.