United Kingdom

Boris Johnson to give Liz Truss more senior role in plans to promote female ministers in reshuffle 

Boris Johnson plans to promote a raft of female ministers in a reshuffle aimed at addressing his ‘woman problem’.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is set to be handed a more senior Cabinet post after impressing the Prime Minister.

Junior ministers Kemi Badenoch, Lucy Frazer, Gillian Keegan and Victoria Atkins are also seen by No 10 as rising stars.

Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds and press secretary Allegra Stratton are understood to be among those encouraging him to refresh his top team. 

An ally said: ‘Boris has a woman problem. The only way you solve that is to put more women in the top jobs.’

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss (pictured) is set to be handed a more senior Cabinet post

Downing Street has pencilled in June for the Cabinet shake-up, following the local elections that are due to take place in May.

The Prime Minister is believed to want to get a team in place that will take the Tories into the next general election. 

Other Tory MPs tipped for promotion include Neil O’Brien, who has been an enthusiastic defender of the Government’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Mr Johnson may attempt to unite the party by also handing roles to vocal critics of the measures, such as Steve Baker and chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs Sir Graham Brady.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and policing minister Kit Malthouse are also said to be favoured.

No 10 aides have discussed the possibility of moving Priti Patel from the Home Office to become party chairman, although her supporters have warned she would resist such a move. 

Former chancellor Sajid Javid is thought to be eyeing a return to Cabinet as foreign secretary.

Miss Truss had been seen as vulnerable to the sack, but has won over the Prime Minister in recent months and is now seen as a candidate for one of the great offices of state. 

Junior ministers Kemi Badenoch (top left), Lucy Frazer (bottom right), Gillian Keegan (top right) and Victoria Atkins (bottom left) are also seen by No 10 as rising stars

The International Trade Secretary’s popularity with the party faithful has rocketed after finalising some 64 trade deals to keep goods flowing post-Brexit.

Mr Johnson may further shake up his Downing Street team and is believed to want to bring new thinkers into the No 10 policy unit.

The Prime Minister yesterday faced criticism for failing to give women a more prominent role in his Government.

An analysis by the Sunday Times found Downing Street has put up only one female Cabinet minister to answer questions on either the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show or Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday since the start of the first lockdown on March 23.

The Prime Minister is believed to want to get a team in place that will take the Tories into the next general election

Male Cabinet ministers have appeared on the programmes 65 times during that time, while Home Secretary Miss Patel made just two appearances, both on June 28 last year. Miss Truss and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey were notably absent despite both holding high-ranking roles.

Caroline Nokes, Tory chairman of the Commons women and equalities committee, told the newspaper: ‘By not putting up female ministers to speak on the main political Sunday morning programmes, the party is failing to engage with half of the electorate.

‘It also smacks of a Government led by men for men.’

The influential Conservative Home website said it was ‘inexplicable’ that Downing Street was not using Miss Coffey more on television.

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