Whitehall shake-up planned 'to deliver people's priorities'

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
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BORIS JOHNSON is said to be planning a major overhaul of Whitehall to ensure that government departments work “more effectively” to deliver the people’s priorities.

The Prime Minister is due to confirm at least two new Cabinet appointments today as MPs begin to return to Westminster ahead of Parliament’s state opening on Thursday.

The Tory leader also intends to bring forward Brexit legislation this week to pave the way for Britain to leave the European Union at the end of next month as Labour turmoil deepened over its election defeat.

But reports suggest that he is planning a far greater Whitehall shake-up – and the replacement of up to one third of his Cabinet team – once the first phase of Brexit is complete early next year.

Mr Johnson is said to be considering the merger of the Foreign Office with the Department for International Development – he wants overseas aid money spent more effectively – and also establishing a separate borders and immigration department.

He is also determined to make up to £80bn available for transport projects across the North to repay the electoral support that he received from lifelong Labour voters across the region.

Pressed on the plans which could also make it easier to recruit external experts from business and other sectors to serve alongside senior civil servants, Treasury chief secretary Rishi Sunak said the PM wants to make sure the government “works effectively”.

Asked if the Government also wants to reform the Civil Service, the Richmond MP, who is a key ally of the Prime Minister and tipped for promotion after enjoying prominent role in the election, added: “I think we want to make sure that government works effectively to deliver for the British people.”

However the potential shake-up alarmed aid charities, with Save the Children chief executive Kevin Watkins describing the merger of Whitehall departments as “a deeply damaging move that risks endangering the impact big-hearted Britons can have around the world”.

Meanwhile Labour’s John McDonnell apologised for the party’s catastrophic result, saying “I own this disaster”, as the battle to succeed Jeremy Corbyn heated up.

The Shadow Chancellor said “if anyone’s to blame, it’s me, full stop”, but also cited Brexit and the media for having “demonised” the Labour leader ahead of the dismal defeat.

Key figures in the current leadership were tipping Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, but backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips were testing the waters for a challenge, as senior figures said Labour should opt for a leader who is steeped in the North.

Mr McDonnell’s contrition came after Mr Corbyn issued a belated apology for Labour’s worst result since 1935 as it s so-called ‘red wall’ of seats acorss the Midlands and North was swept away in a Tory landslide.