DAVID Cameron is expected to shake-up his Ministerial team in readiness for the General Election campaign in a reshuffle that could begin as soon as this morning.
The Prime Minister is expected to relegate senior Tories to the backbenches as he looks to promote younger and female MPs.
Ken Clarke, who first became a Cabinet Minister almost 30 years ago, and Chief Whip Sir George Young, who is standing down as an MP in May, are both thought likely to lose their jobs.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who was criticised for the way he handled last winter’s floods, are also considered to be vulnerable.
The futures of Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, have been the subject of speculation.
But it is thought both are more likely to be moved to other departments rather than be removed from the Cabinet.
Former TV presenter Esther McVey, the Minister for the Disabled, and Children’s Minister Liz Truss are both hotly tipped for promotion.
The moves will be seen as an attempt by the Prime Minister to counter criticism that the Conservatives’ senior ranks are dominated by older white men.
Mr Cameron has been accused of having a ‘women problem’ because five of the women Conservative MPs elected four years ago have left, confirmed they will stand down next year or been deselected.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and EqualitiesGloria de Piero said: “David Cameron just doesn’t understand that a Government that doesn’t look or sound like Britain cannot truly speak for Britain.
“With less than a year to go women are still being shut-out of decision-making and are under-represented around the top table of this Government. There haven’t been so few women members of the Cabinet in almost twenty years.
“With more women MPs than the Tories and Lib Dems combined and women candidates in 54 per cent of our target seats, Labour’s shown that it is possible to change politics, you just need the will to do it.”
However, Home Office Minister James Brokenshire came to the Prime Minister’s defence yesterday.
“As a male minister in the Government, I look at the talented people that we have - men and women - and I think we are a very well-balanced government, that we have some fantastic talent from whatever quarters and if the Prime Minister decides that he wants to look at bringing further people through that is absolutely a right thing for him to do at the appropriate moment.
“I think it is looking at the talent that we have, but yes we need to do more to ensure that as a party we reflect men, women and also all communities across the UK.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also faced questions over the role of women in his party with all of the Liberal Democrat Cabinet posts currently held by women.
With the post of Scottish Secretary one of those filled by the Lib Dems, Mr Clegg is expected to wait until after the independence referendum to reshuffle his team .
Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes said Mr Clegg was “absolutely mindful” of the need to have more women MPs in Government.