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Cameron’s Cabinet Reshuffle Aims to Inject ‘Fighting Spirit’

CNBC.com with Wires
Tuesday, 4 Sep 2012 | 7:37 AM ET

British Chancellor George Osborne stays put but a number of high profile figures in the U.K.'s Conservative party cabinet have lost their positions in Prime Minister David Cameron’s first reshuffle since the coalition government took charge in 2010, according to reports from news agencies and the Financial Times.

St George's Flag & Houses of Parliament
Peter Adams | Photodisc | Getty Images
St George's Flag & Houses of Parliament

In a reshuffle intended to inject “fighting spirit” into the coalition government, according to spokesmen for Cameron's home and office at No. 10 Downing Street and quoted by the FT, some familiar faces are leaving their posts while the core group remain.

Though the biggest names such as George Osborne as Chancellor, Theresa May as Home Secretary, William Hague as Foreign Secretary and Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary and Education Secretary Michael Gove are reported to be safe in their posts, there have been some high profile departures that are sure to raise some eyebrows.

One such figure departing the cabinet, according to the FT, to become Leader of the House of Commons (parliament) is Andrew Lansley, the controversial health secretary overseeing 20 billion pounds worth of cuts from Britain’s National Health Service.

He is one of the biggest names to go in the reshuffle, being replaced by former culture secretary James Hunt. Telling reporters outside No.10 that he was “incredibly honored” to take over the post (perhaps something of a poisoned chalice as unpopular cuts must take place from theNational Health Service or NHS- something of a national treasure for Brits), his position will be replaced.

Chris Grayling, employment minister, will become justice secretary despite not having legal experience. He replaces Ken Clarke, a veteran of British politics with 40 years of experience who will become a roving minister, valued by Cameron for his “wise head”, one aide to Cameron told the FT.

Sky News reports that Iain Duncan Smith had been offered the post but refused on the grounds that he wanted to “get on with the job” as minister of Work and Pensions, overseeing a number of far-reaching welfare reforms.

Though Cameron is reported to be keen on maintaining a number of women in the Cabinet, only Theresa Villiers, the former transport minister has been promoted while others leave their posts. Villiers becomes secretary of state for Northern Ireland as Caroline Spelman loses her environment post and Baroness Warsi is replaced as Tory Chairman. Cheryl Gillian, Welsh secretary confirmed she too was leaving her post via social media site Twitter.

Baroness Warsi had attempted earlier in the week to save her post by telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper, "If I genuinely had a choice, I would like to stay doing what I'm doing." However, on Monday evening she used Twitter to announce her departure from the Chairman’s post, saying it had been a "privilege and an honor to serve my party".

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat former Treasury minister previously sacked on expenses claims is tipped to return as a deputy to Michael Gove in Education, though his position has not been confirmed, as yet.

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