ALISTER Jack could be sacked as Boris Johnson lines up a group of younger Tory MPs to join his Cabinet next year in a reshuffle that will completely reset his government.
The Prime Minister’s allies say he wants to change his team after the sudden departure of Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings, two of his top aides. Both men were veterans of the Vote Leave campaign that won the Brexit referendum in 2016 and moved into Downing Street after Johnson became Prime Minister.
Insiders have said the Tory leader plans to focus on swapping out senior figures, which could include the Secretary of State for Scotland.
It comes as Jack said he will “certainly not” resign over the Government’s plan to decrease the international aid budget by £4 billion – breaking a manifesto promise opposed to a cut.
“I think overseas aid from the wealthier nations is terribly important, but I’m certainly not going to resign over it,” he said
It prompted Baroness Sugg to resign as a Foreign Office minister, calling the decision “fundamentally wrong”, while a series of backbench Tory MPs condemned the move. Three former prime ministers called for the change to be dropped, including David Cameron, who enshrined the 0.7% target in law in 2015.
“Boris isn’t thinking about bringing back lots of Cameroon people like Jeremy Hunt,” one government official said, referring to ministers who served under Cameron. “But he does see that several senior ministers aren’t pulling their weight and he needs to bring up his own allies.”
Government sources also said Johnson is planning to hire a new parliamentary private secretary to improve his relationship with potentially rebellious backbenchers.
They said two MPs from the 2019 intake could be in the running for the role: Claire Coutinho, an aide to chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Laura Trott, who works with transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Johnson is also expected to use the reshuffle to show the price of rebellion. An insider said: “The whipping operation has found a hard stick. It’ll be made very clear that voting against the government means two years in the wilderness. If the 2019 intake wants to be promoted, they can’t rebel for the sake of it.”
MPs representing non-traditional Conservative seats in the North of England are tipped for promotion, as well as those elected in 2015 and 2017.
Rising stars are in line for more senior roles, including Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly and health minister Edward Argar. Mark Spencer, chief whip, has held conversations on behalf of the Prime Minister over the past fortnight with backbench MPs about the reshuffle. Downing Street has also deployed eager MPs to defend the Government in the media on controversial topics like as the bullying report into home secretary Priti Patel.
Johnson has also held meetings with Sajid Javid about returning to Cabinet, after he quit following a disagreement with Cummings earlier this year.