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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Reshuffle - Gove replaces Jenrick, but will Pincher survive?

In a day of unexpected drama, Boris Johnson carried out a surprisingly brutal and widespread Cabinet reshuffle which saw a number of major names removed or demoted.

From a property point of view, this included the sacking of Robert Jenrick as Housing Secretary to be replaced by long-time Cabinet member Michael Gove, while Gavin Williamson, Robert Buckland and Amanda Milling were all removed, and Dominic Raab was demoted to Justice Secretary and replaced as Foreign Secretary by Liz Truss.

Gove is known to be a grand reformer - something he has tried to do throughout his political career, most notably in his roles as Education and Justice Secretary and in his central role in the Vote Leave campaign. He has never been afraid to ruffle feathers and take bold action, but equally this has made him very unpopular in some quarters, particularly among the teaching profession.

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He is said to be an effective operator in Whitehall, which could help some of the key ambitions of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to get through quicker. He will face quite the in-tray, with ongoing issues over planning, housebuilding, leasehold, cladding and rental reform.

As well as the housing, communities and local government brief, he will also retain responsibility for the government's 'levelling up' agenda - 'spreading wealth and opportunity around the country' - and handling demands for another Scottish independence referendum.

Robert Jenrick was sacked from his position after a series of scandals over the last 18 months, most glaringly one involving Tory donor and billionaire newspaper owner Richard Desmond, in which Jenrick was subsequently found to have acted unlawfully. The Times and the Mail on Sunday, in particular, ran a series of sleaze and 'cash for favours' stories alleging wrongdoing on the part of Jenrick and his colleagues at MHCLG, but he survived these scandals until yesterday afternoon.

He tweeted after his departure was announced: "It’s been a huge privilege to serve as Secretary of State @mhclg. Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved. I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can."

It is expected that he will return to the backbenches for now, but at 39 years of old, and previously considered a rising star in the Tory ranks alongside the likes of Rishi Sunak, many believe he will return to the heart of government at some point, potentially as part of a future reshuffle.

But what of the team he worked closely with at MHCLG? Christopher Pincher, MP for Tamworth, was apppointed as Housing Minister in February 2020, when he took over from the sacked Esther McVey. He has largely kept a low profile since, only appearing from time to time to answer questions in the Commons or to announce a new government initiative.

The reshuffle of junior ministers - which the position of Housing Minister falls under - is expected to be announced today, and if Pincher were to go the industry would be onto its 18th new minister since 2001 - and the 11th since the Tories returned to power in 2010. 

Despite only being in position since February 2020, Pincher has already outlasted many of his predecessors, with many MPs previously in the role accused of viewing the position of Housing Minister as a stepping stone to greater things.

  • Rob Hailstone

    The same Michael Gove who said in 2017: the party would “reform and modernise the home-buying process so it is more efficient and less costly” and the party would “look again” at bringing back the packs (HIPs), which were dropped by the government in 2010.

  • Matthew Payne

    Mr Gove is still in charge of the Union and Elections so I am not sure how much time he is going to be able to dedicate to housing when the Tories are already on a war footing for the next election and the Scots have started braying for independance once more. Irrespective of capability, this feels like a step backwards.

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