Boris Johnson refuses to reshuffle cabinet until he’s got Brexit done

Boris Johnson holds his a cabinet meeting. Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA.

Boris Johnson holds his a cabinet meeting. Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Despite growing calls for education secretary Gavin Williamson to be sacked over the A-Levels fiasco, Boris Johnson is refusing to reshuffle his cabinet until he has got Brexit done.

Tory MPs on the backbenches have been calling for Johnson to use the end of the recess to 'reset' his government and demote some of his ministers that have performed poorly since he became prime minister.

But the Telegraph reports that he is resisting the move and has no plans to make big changes until Brexit has been achieved.

One Tory MP told the newspaper: 'We have had too many mishaps for a government that is only a year old. The government is now being laughed at. It's being seen as hapless.'

Another said: 'There's the elections next May, where I fear there's a huge pressure building up at the bottom of the volcano, and that could be an enormous wake up call to the Conservative party.

'Brexit and a Corbyn-led Labour party, which won us the election in 2019, will be rotting corpses by then. It's not about what the government does but whether it is competent. With fiascos like the grading scandal, we are giving our supporters good reason not to come out and support us. That's a potential for a political tsunami to take place.'

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It comes after defence select committee chair Tobias Ellwood said: 'Moving forwards in the long term, ultimately we need to see the Cabinet as a whole occupied by people who have the talent and drive to lead their departments and freedom to express their views privately,'

But Downing Street has insisted there are no plans to make major changes, saying: 'There are no plans for a reshuffle in September. The government has full confidence in the education secretary.'

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There will be 'minor' tweaks to the cabinet when the Department for International Development is merged with the Foreign Office, but other than that a full reshuffle is not expected until after Brexit.

'I don't think we'll see a reshuffle of any great significance until the New Year, after Brexit has been fully delivered,' said one minister. 'I don't think the PM is minded to do a big next stage of government reset while the country is still in the midst of the coronavirus crisis and a trade deal is still being negotiated with Brussels.'

It is reported that Williamson even offered his resignation, but Downing Street rejected the offer.

But as the Irish Times point out, those in cabinet are not there for their competency, but for their loyalty to Brexit.

'What Johnson is now left with is a low quality cabinet not chosen for ability but for loyalty to his Brexit project,' said Finn McRedmond. 'That political gambit may have been laudable if Covid-19 hadn't emerged as the defining battle of Johnson's premiership. It's all well and good to avoid the errors made by your predecessor if the problems you face are identical in character and scale. Unfortunately for Johnson, that was not to be the case.'

Earlier this year Tory MPs were warned that they must save the prime minister's senior aide Dominic Cummings to ensure that Brexit is achieved.

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