Rees-Mogg made Brexit opportunities minister as PM starts reshuffle

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Jacob Rees-Mogg has become the minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, as Boris Johnson carries out a cabinet reshuffle.

The PM, under pressure over parties in Downing Street during lockdown, is meeting ministers inside No 10 for what are described as “small” changes.

Mark Spencer replaces Mr Rees-Mogg as House of Commons leader.

And Chris Heaton-Harris becomes the new chief whip, in charge of disciplining Conservative MPs.

The PM has already changed many of his advisers and other No 10 staff, as he attempts to ward off calls from opposition parties, and some of his own MPs, to resign.

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Mr Rees-Mogg, a prominent Leave campaigner during the 2016 EU referendum, will be a full member of the cabinet, having previously only attended it. Mr Spencer, who was previously chief whip, will continue to attend.

At sub-cabinet level, Stuart Andrew moves from being deputy chief whip to housing minister.

In her report on gatherings that took place in Downing Street during lockdowns, published last week, senior civil servant Sue Gray criticised “failures of leadership and judgement”.

In response, Mr Johnson has promised a “change” in culture and to consult Conservative MPs more on setting policy.

Meanwhile, No 10 has said the prime minister has no intention of apologising after falsely claiming that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had failed to prosecute serial sex offender Jimmy Savile when he was director of public prosecutions.

The reshuffle follows several backbench Tory MPs criticising his leadership. If 54 MPs write letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee, this will prompt a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister.

If he lost this, there would be a full leadership contest, in which Mr Johnson could not run.

At the last cabinet reshuffle, in September last year, Nadine Dorries became culture secretary and Liz Truss became foreign secretary, while Dominic Raab was moved from the Foreign Office to become deputy prime minister.-BBC