Boris Johnson gets rid of Gavin Williamson as education secretary

Gavin Williamson

EPA

Gavin Williamson is out as education secretary as the prime minister begins a reshuffle of his top team.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has also lost his job, he confirmed in a twitter message.

Boris Johnson is sacking ministers in his House of Commons office and is expected to start announcing replacements for them later.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is among those rumoured to be moved or sacked.

Mr Williamson faced intense criticism over his handling of disruption to schools and exams during the pandemic.

Mr Williamson confirmed he had left the role in a tweet, saying: “It has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019.

“Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.”

Mr Buckland, the UK’s most senior law officer, also confirmed his departure in a twitter message.

He said: “It has been an honour to serve in government for the last 7 years, and as the Lord Chancellor for the last 2.

“I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure.”

Downing Street earlier confirmed the reshuffle was under way, saying the PM wanted to “put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic”.

“The government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities,” No 10 added.

“The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.”

Widespread rejig?

Confirmation of the reshuffle came as Mr Johnson was on his feet in the Commons taking Prime Minister’s Questions.

Government front bench

He remained in the Commons after PMQs, where he is able to sack ministers in his private office, away from the cameras in Downing Street.

Mr Johnson has largely stuck with the cabinet team he appointed after winning the December 2019 general election.

The one major change came in February 2020, when Rishi Sunak became chancellor following the resignation of Sajid Javid.

Mr Javid returned to government in July this year as health secretary, following the resignation of Matt Hancock.

Speculation has been building for weeks that the PM is planning a more widespread rejig of his ministerial team.

Dominic Raab, who came under fire over his handling of the aftermath of the fall of Afghanistan, has also been at the centre of speculation about his future.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has also faced negative headlines over allegedly breaking ministerial rules, a police pay freeze and bullying allegations.

But Ms Patel was in a prominent position on the government frontbench at Prime Minister’s Questions, sat next to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to the right of the PM.

Other big Cabinet hitters could not be seen in the chamber, including Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, who has been tipped for promotion to a more senior role.

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