Women from the class of 2010 were handed seats at the Government’s top table today as David Cameron assembled the team he hopes voters will back with a Conservative majority in May.
Leeds-raised Liz Truss was made Environment Secretary and became the youngest Cabinet Minister at the age of 38.
Treasury Minister Nicky Morgan was handed the education brief in a surprise move that sees Michael Gove become chief whip with a brief to take the fight against Labour on the airwaves.
Former television presenter Esther McVey will now attend Cabinet alongside her existing ministerial role while Baroness Stowell is the new Leader of the House of Lords following the nomination of Lord Hill as the UK’s new European Union commissioner.
In a comprehensive shake-up of ministerial jobs outside the Cabinet, Mr Cameron also promoted an array of younger female MPs including Anna Soubry, Priti Patel, Claire Perry, Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt - known to TV viewers for her appearance in her swimsuit on Splash!.
The Prime Minister said: “This is a fresh team with the ideas, the energy, the policy and the ability to take this country forward, to complete the long term economic plan and secure our future.
“I am proud of the fact that great talent has come through the Conservative ranks and we now see Conservative women occupying posts like Home Secretary, Education Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Development Secretary - vital jobs with really good people doing those jobs to secure the future of this country. I am very proud of that.”
Mr Cameron has faced suggestions he has a “women problem” following the decision of several female MPs from the 2010 intake not to stand again next year and the deselection of Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh.
The wider-than-expected reshuffle was an unashamed attempt to confront that criticism head on.
The promotion of MPs elected in 2010 at the expense of long-time Conservative servants was also an effort to present a more energetic-looking Conservative Party to voters as it asks for five more years in office and a parliamentary majority.
A Conservative line of attack in the General Election campaign will be that Labour is asking to be returned to power led by key figures from the Government which voters dumped from office in 2010.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who had angered MPs on his own benches because of his refusal to support withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights - and Science Minister David Willetts were among the high profile casualties of the new approach.
Labour last night continued to argue that the Conservatives had a weak record on supporting women in Parliament with just one woman selected to take on Labour and Lib Dem sitting MPs in Yorkshire so far.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said: “Many people are fed up with politics because they don’t think MPs look, sound, talk or think like them, and the extent to which it remains male-dominated – especially on government benches – is a big problem.”
William Hague’s move from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the Commons and his decision step down as the Richmond MP at the next election continued to cause ripples in Whitehall and Yorkshire today.
His decision creates an opening in a very safe Tory seat.
Constituency agent Matthew Vickers laughed at the suggestion it might appeal to London Mayor Boris Johnson who is consistently linked with a return to the Commons.
“If he applies I am sure we will be interested in seeing his application but who is to know.”