Jacob Rees-Mogg has been moved from Commons leader to minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency in the Cabinet Office, No 10 has said.
It is the first confirmed move of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle on Tuesday following the partygate furore.
The shake-up of the ministerial team follows the appointment of Stephen Barclay as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff as Johnson seeks to relaunch his administration following the resignation of four key aides.
Following the partial publication of Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street drinking parties during lockdown, Johnson said he would “fix it”.
Rees-Mogg has been supportive of the Prime Minister throughout the repeated partygate revelations and will retain a seat at the cabinet table.
The veteran Tory MP previously called the Scottish Conservative leader a “lightweight figure” in the political party following Douglas Ross’ comments that Johnson should resign having admitted he attended a Downing Street party during lockdown.
He has also defended comments made by Johnson in the Commons last week accusing labour leader Keir Starmer of having “used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” while director of public prosecutions.
During business questions in parliament on Thursday, Rees-Mogg said Starmer’s apology, made on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2013, was following the “principle of taking responsibility for what went on in his organisation and then apologise for failings”.
Rees-Mogg said the Prime Minister had apologised similarly for “mistakes that may have been made in Downing Street.”
He said: “I think that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and the geese and the gander should not complain one for the other. They are perfectly fair and reasonable points of political debate.”
Starmer had to be bundled into a police car on Monday after being mobbed outside parliament by protesters baselessly alleging he had been “protecting paedophiles”.
Rees-Mogg will be replaced by former chief whip Mark Spence as Commons leader.
Spence played a leading role in trying to get Tory MPs to support a shake-up of Commons sleaze rules in an attempt to spare Owen Paterson from being suspended.
He has also faced claims that he told MP Nusrat Ghani she lost her ministerial role because her Muslim faith made people feel uncomfortable – he denies this.
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