Michael Gove makes shock return to cabinet as Environment Secretary in reshuffle

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Michael Gove has made a shock return to the cabinet in a reshuffle by Theresa May following an election that saw her party lose its majority.

The appointment marks a dramatic comeback for the former contender against Mrs May in last year's battle for the party leadership.

Mr Gove was appointed Environment Secretary, replacing Andrea Leadsom, who becomes the new Leader of the Commons.

He was last year sacked by Mrs May in one of her first acts after her appointment as party leader.

The two had also previously clashed over tackling extremism when they were in government together under David Cameron.

Mrs May's decision to bring him back into the fold had led to speculation she may attempting to keep potential rivals close to fend off any challenge to her leadership.

Today she insisted she had no plans to step down before the end of the five-year parliament term and was focused on picking a team that "reflects the wealth of talent and experience across the Conservative party."

Mr Gove's appointment, one of the last to be announced, was the major surprise of a reshuffle in which Mrs May was seen to have little room for manoeuvre.

He said he "genuinely didn't expect this role" but was "delighted" to be appointed back into the Government in comments to Sky News.

He was welcomed back by Boris Johnson - whose previous leadership bid he had scuppered by withdrawing support and announcing his own candidacy at the eleventh hour.

The reshuffle also saw Mrs May's key ally Damian Green the new First Secretary of State - a title generally associated with the role of deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss was effectively demoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury "attending Cabinet" from her previous role as Justice Secretary.

She had been strongly criticised after failing to publicly stand up for judiciary after the High Court's decision to bar Mrs May from triggering Article 50.

The rest of the reshuffle saw Mrs May make only modest changes to her top team in the appointments.

David Lidington will take over from Ms Truss as the new Justice Secretary, and was also made Lord Chancellor.

The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke also got a promotion as he was made Works and Pensions Secretary.

A number of other cabinet members kept their roles, including Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Education Secretary Justine Greening andInternational Trade Minister Liam Fox.

Business Secretary Greg Clarke and Chris Grayling were also told they would remain in their posts.

Ms Truss was effectively demoted in a largely undramatic reshuffle. Credit: PA

Mrs May has already announced on Friday that the five of the most senior ministerial posts would all remain unchanged.

They were Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, Defence Minister Michael Fallon, and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

The reshuffle comes as Mrs May faces criticism from within her own party as she continues talks with the DUP in an attempt to form a working majority.

Former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan said Mrs May "cannot lead us into another election" and suggested that a leadership contest could take place this summer.

Mr Johnson has moved to dampen speculation that he could be mulling launching a bid to take over, saying he will be "backing her".