Outgoing Johnson appoints Greg Clark to return as local government secretary

By Michael Burton and Dan Peters | 07 July 2022

Former local government secretary Greg Clark has been appointed to replace sacked levelling up secretary Michael Gove.

The appointment came just before Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned though he said he would remain in office until the Conservative Party elected a new leader.

Mr Clark served as secretary of state for communities and local government from May 2015 until July 2016 and business secretary from July 2016 to July 2019. 

He tweeted: 'We have a duty to ensure that the country has a functioning government in the weeks ahead.

'Having been Secretary of State at the Communities department before, I will do my best to provide stability, good governance and accountability to Parliament at this important time.'

The minister for local government between 2015 and 2018, Marcus Jones, has been appointed as minister of state for housing.

He tweeted: 'This is an important and challenging brief, and I look forward to giving all my energy and attention to this demanding role.'

Paul Scully, who was previously minister for small business, has been appointed local government minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) while Mr Johnson's Parliamentary private secretary Lia Nici has been appointed as a Parliamentary under secretary of state in the department.

The arrivals aim to plug the ministerial gaps at DLUHC after a mass exodus of ministers.

Commenting on Mr Gove's dismissal, a No10 source is reported to have said: ‘You can't have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully tells the press the leader has to go.’

Local government minister Kemi Badenoch, levelling up minister Neil O'Brien and housing minister Stuart Andrew all quit over Mr Johnson’s leadership style while Lord Greenhalgh, an unpaid minister for building safety and fire jointly at DLUHC and the Home Office since September 2021, said he thought it was the 'right time' for him to quit after the Prime Minister announced his resignation.

In a joint letter to Mr Johnson, Ms Badenoch and Mr O'Brien said it had become 'increasingly clear that the Government cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled'.

They wrote: 'In good faith, we must ask that, for the good of the party and the country, you step aside.' 

In an earlier separate letter to Mr Johnson, Mr Andrew wrote: ‘There comes a time when you have to look at your own personal integrity and that time is now.

'Therefore, given recent events, I have no other choice than to resign.’

Mr Andrew offered ‘my apologies to the sector who will have to get to know yet another housing minister but I should commend all of them and those in local government who are doing so much to address the housing needs of our country’.

In February Mr Andrew succeeded then housing minister Christopher Pincher, who is now at the centre of the political storm that led to the resignations of chancellor and one-time local government minister Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid earlier this week.

Welsh secretary Simon Hart resigned along with former local government minister Brandon Lewis, who had been Northern Ireland secretary, as part of efforts to force a change of leadership.

Parliamentary private secretaries in the DLUHC Duncan Baker and Danny Kruger also quit.

Mr Kruger said he was 'very sorry' Mr Gove had been sacked, adding: 'As I told No 10 earlier today, it should be the PM leaving office.'

In a message on Facebook, Mr Baker wrote: 'We must not dismiss the by-election results as mid-term blues.

'They were not and they were a clear indicator of how the country feels.

'The breakdown in trust from the last six months is abundantly clear.

'The latest situation to unfold regarding Chris Pincher only compounds those feelings, with many now recognising the situation is clearly unsustainable.

'In my short time as the MP for North Norfolk, I have spoken out time and time again on matters relating to integrity, leadership and trust.

'I must remain true to my values and principles.

'I have felt for a considerable while that the situation cannot go on.

'I do not have confidence in the Prime Minister.'

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Whitehall Politics Boris Johnson Michael Gove