Cabinet shuffle sees Yorkshire MPs handed key roles in Theresa May's team

All change in the cabinet as PM Theresa May replaced out-going Sir Michael Fallon with Scarborough-born Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary, and then appointed Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith into his role as Chief Whip.
All change in the cabinet as PM Theresa May replaced out-going Sir Michael Fallon with Scarborough-born Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary, and then appointed Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith into his role as Chief Whip.
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Two Yorkshire MPs have been handed key roles in Theresa may's cabinet following the shock resignation of Sir Michael Fallon.

The Yorkshire Post says: Nod to North in May's reshuffle - now can our Ministers please get on with the job?

North Yorkshire MP Julian Smith has been appointed as Chief Whip today in a Government re-shuffle after his predecessor Gavin Williamson was named as Defence Secretary.

The new role for Mr Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, was confirmed minutes after the announcement that Mr Williamson would be replacing Fallon.

The 46-year-old Scot had previously served as Assistant Government Whip after being appointed after the 2015 General Election.

Mr Williamson has been appointed Defence Secretary after Sir Michael Fallon resigned from the job amid Westminster sleaze allegations.

Sir Michael quit after admitting his behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required" in the role and acknowledging that what might have been acceptable in the past was no longer appropriate.

Mr Williamson, who was the Government's chief whip before this appointment, will take the job having never held ministerial office.

He left Downing Street with a military officer and got into a waiting car without speaking to reporters.

Mr Williamson was replaced as chief whip by his former deputy Julian Smith, while Tatton MP Esther McVey - a former TV presenter who served as a minister in David Cameron's government - was made deputy chief whip.

The swift ascent of 41-year-old South Staffordshire MP Mr Williamson, who became one of Theresa May's inner circle after acting as parliamentary campaign manager in her successful bid for the Conservative leadership, was greeted with surprise in Westminster and appeared to cause some consternation in Tory ranks.

Apparently referring to Mr Williamson's promotion, Tory MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted: "There are times when offered a job that it would be better to advise that another would be more experienced & suited to the role."

Mr Williamson, who was made a CBE by David Cameron, helped to run the leadership campaign of Theresa May and was at the forefront of the agreement with the DUP to ensure its Northern Irish MPs boosted her Parliamentary majority.

Profile, a Radio 4 spotlight by broadcaster Mark Coles, described him as being "brutally efficient behind the smiles and will do whatever it takes" to achieve objectives.
He began his political rise as president of the Conservatives students at Bradford University, although his parents are said to have been Labour supporters.

He later ran a Staffordshire pottery firm selling tableware and was said by the programme's interviewees to have "boundless energy and optimism".

As an MP, he was selected for the high-rank role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mr Cameron and leaped "to the centre of the party – dealing with everyone in the Commons". His appointment as chief whip gave him a massive promotion, the Profile programme said.

He was described as a networker, playing a "pivotal role" in gaining a majority for Mrs May in the Commons by liaising face-to-face with the DUP in Belfast.

The father-of-two has many other interests – including a pet tarantula called Cronus which he has taken to the Commons.

The chairman of the Skipton and Ripon Conservatives Association, Coun Bernard Bateman, said the appointment spells exciting news for Julian Smith's constituents.

Mr Bateman told the 'Gazette that by being placed even more firmly at the heart of Westminster life, Mr Smith will have even more opportunities to raise local issues.

Coun Bateman said: "We are certainly very excited about his appointment, it is very well deserved.

"Julian has worked very hard doing things in the House of Commons, locally for his constituency, and for the Conservative Party. He is a very dedicated person and is a person that gets jobs done. We are all delighted for him.

"His original position of Deputy Chief Whip has certainly made a lot of difference to what he has been able to do. He has been able to do even more for his constituents. Now that he has been made Chief Whip, it's an opportunity to pull more strings within government and make sure he gets things done for our area."

Julian Smith was re-elected as MP for Skipton and Ripon at the General Election in June, securing 36,425 votes (62.7%).

Read more:

The Yorkshire Post says: Nod to North in May's reshuffle - now can our Ministers please get on with the job?

Theresa May set for cabinet reshuffle after Fallon quits in sleaze scandal

The key questions surrounding Sir Michael Fallon's controversial resignation