Boris Johnson has appointed yet another new Housing Minister as he yesterday continued the rearranging of his team in an effort to save his increasingly fragile premiership.
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the pressure on Boris Johnson has led to a clearout of No 10 and a shake-up of his advisers and junior ministers, which has in turn had an impact on housing.
Following the resignations that shook Downing Street at the end of last week, the Prime Minister decided to carry out a mini-reshuffle on Tuesday, to promote allies that have been staunchly loyal to him and rearrange the whips office – which has faced wide-ranging criticism in recent months, from the Owen Paterson affair and claims of Islamophobia to overly aggressive tactics being used to force MPs to vote with the government or stamp out criticism of Johnson.
And it was a deputy chief whip, the previously little-known Stuart Andrew, who was named as the man to replace Chris Pincher - housing minister since February 2020.
Andrew was confirmed by Downing Street as the new housing minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLHUC).
The MP for Pudsey in West Yorkshire since 2010, he has also previously held parliamentary under-secretary roles in the Welsh Office and the Ministry of Defence. Before entering the Commons, he led the fundraising team for Martin House Hospice.
Pincher, an arch Johnson loyalist who has been a key instigator of the shadow whipping operation – known as Operation Save Big Dog, designed to keep the PM in No 10 – has left DHLUC after nearly two years in the role. He has taken the role of Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip), meaning he and Andrew have effectively swapped roles.
Pincher was the 19th holder of the housing minister post in 21 years, in a position that has largely been seen as a stepping stone to greater things over recent decades. A number of current Cabinet ministers, including Dominic Raab, Alok Sharma, Brandon Lewis and Grant Shapps, previously held the position of Housing Minister, but none of them remained in that role for very long.
Pincher’s predecessor, Esther McVey, held the post for just seven months. With speculation persisting that Boris Johnson could face a no confidence vote from his MPs at some point, there is every chance Andrew’s tenure at DHLUC could be equally short-lived.