A number of Brexit-backing cabinet ministers are fearing for their jobs as cabinet awaits the ‘brutal’ process which could see a number of well-known MPs lose their jobs.
In a sign that the Tories are preparing for a lengthy period in government, Johnson instead wants to give ministerial experience to a range of women who could be promoted to the cabinet in future reshuffles.
There is not expected to be a reduction in the number of female members of the cabinet, but Baroness Morgan has already said she intends to leave her ministerial role and the positions of Therese Coffey, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers are thought to be vulnerable.
International trade secretary Liz Truss and leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg could also be demoted in the process.
Senior ministers including chancellor Sajid Javid, home secretary Priti Patel and foreign secretary Dominic Raab are expected to remain in place while Downing Street has confirmed that Grant Shapps will stay on as transport secretary.
Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings had reportedly been seeking a wider cull of ministers and a shake-up of Whitehall departments but No 10 insiders believe a more “conventional” reshuffle will be carried out by the prime minister.
On the eve of the changes, Ben Wallace and Geoffrey Cox – both viewed as under threat – set out why they should stay in office.
Defence secretary Wallace said: “I have been in this game long enough to know that British cabinet reshuffles are brutal.
“It is at the decision of the prime minister who serves in his Cabinet.
“I have been there before, I have been in quite a long time, I’m keen to serve, I enjoy the job as defence secretary, I’m a veteran, I’m a northern MP, I was actually in the Army, so I think all of those hopefully qualify me, but who knows.”
Attorney general Cox said he would “eagerly” embrace the opportunity to continue in his post if spared by the PM.
“Have I had enough of the job? Let me make plain: absolutely not. This has been one of the greatest, in fact the greatest honour of my professional life,” he said.
But the high-flying lawyer added: “If you gave me the opportunity to continue I would embrace it eagerly but equally if it is not to be, well then there are other doorways that will open for me.”
Other factors at play in this reshuffle include filling the vacant role in charge of the Cop26 UN climate summit following the sacking of Claire O’Neill and deciding whether Steve Barclay will return to government after the Brexit department was scrapped following the January 31 departure from the European Union.
A No 10 source said: “The prime minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for government now and in the future.
“He wants to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years.
“He will reward those MPs who have worked hard to deliver on this government’s priorities to level up the whole country and deliver the change people voted for last year.”