Afternoon summary

  • Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said the government should be reducing inequality, in a speech saying “we can’t tackle health disparities without tackling wider disparities too”. (See 2.51pm and 5.24pm.)

That’s all from me for today. But our Covid coverage continues on our global live blog. It’s here.

The full text of Sajid Javid’s speech on health inequalities (see 2.51pm) is now on the Department of Health and Social Care’s website and it is worth a read.

Levelling up is normally described by ministers as being about extending opportunity, not about extending equality. But Javid goes further and makes the case for addressing inequality (although, perhaps wary of sounding too leftwing, he talks about “disparity”, not inequality).

Here is an extract.

Passing the peak of the pandemic has been like a receding tide, revealing the underlying health of our nation. It’s revealed some fractures within. And in many cases, the pandemic has deepened those fractures.

Covid-19 admission rates for the most deprived in England were 2.9 times higher than the least deprived – and the mortality rate was 2.4 times higher.

Despite making up less than 14% of the UK population, Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups made up more than a third of critical care admissions from Covid.

95% of White British people over 50 have accepted the offer of 2 doses of the Covid-19 jab, while only 67% of Black Caribbean people have accepted that same offer. When you look at Black Caribbean people over the age of 18, that number goes down further – to a little over half.

These are symptoms of a different disease: the disease of disparity.

As we recover, we face a choice: do we create a more level playing field in our society? Or do we simply return to what was there before? It’s this government’s mission to unite and level up across the whole of the UK, to build back better and to build back fairer. So our recovery from Covid-19 can’t be limited to supporting the economy. After all, we can only level up economically if we level up in terms of health too.


The government has updated its UK Covid dashboard. There have been 26,911 new cases, and new cases over the past seven days are 22.4% down on the previous week. There have been 158 further deaths, and weekly deaths are up 4.7%.

The figures for cases do not include numbers from Scotland because of a technical issue.

And hospital admissions are up 2.5% week on week, but those figures only go up to Saturday, when 836 Covid patients were admitted to a UK hospital.

Covid dashboard
Covid dashboard Photograph: Gov.UK


Review calls for lobbying rules to be strengthened following Cameron/Greensill affair

A review ordered by Boris Johnson in response to concerns over David Cameron’s lobbying attempts has called for a strengthening of the rules, PA Media reports. PA says:

The second part of the long-awaited report by Nigel Boardman was published today and called for a variety of reforms in the wake of the Greensill scandal.

Boardman noted that if his recommendations were in force at the time, then, the Conservative former prime minister would have been required to register as a lobbyist.

The review was launched in April after it emerged Cameron privately lobbied ministers to attempt to try to secure access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for Greensill Capital.

Boardman recommended that the “transparency of lobbyists be strengthened” by requiring them to disclose the ultimate person paying for, or benefiting from, their work.

Lobbyists should also meet a statutory code of conduct setting minimums standards, he advised.

Boardman added that former ministers had “a privileged position” derived from their work in government and called for the register of consultant lobbyists to include any former minister or senior civil servant who undertakes any lobbying activity.

“I note that, were these recommendations in force at the relevant time, Mr Cameron would have been required to register as a lobbyist,” Boardman added.


Digital driving licences will be introduced as part of post-Brexit measures to make transport “fairer, greener and more efficient”, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced.

Our transport network will be fairer, greener & more efficient thanks to our exciting new post-EU freedoms.

We will introduce digital driving licences – moving provisional cards online, doing away with paper test certificates & bringing MOTs into the modern age🚗1/5

— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 16, 2021

This is from Jack Pannell from the Institute for Government showing how the reshuffle has changed which constituencies are represented in cabinet.

Where do the MPs in the cabinet represent? The new cabinet has slightly more ministers from the north and slightly fewer from the midlands.

— jack pannell (@jack_pannnell) September 16, 2021

Javid says NHS vaccine booster programme started today

And this is from Sajid Javid on the start of the NHS vaccine booster programme.

Brilliant to see the first booster jabs starting today - thanks to the ongoing incredible work from @NHSEngland

Please make sure you come forward for a booster shot as soon as you’re called. #Booster

— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) September 16, 2021

Javid says reducing health inequalities must involve tackling 'wider disparities' too

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said the UK faces “two backlogs” after the Covid pandemic.

Speaking at an event organised by the Centre for Social Justice thinktank, Javid said the country would have to deal with a “social backlog in mental health and public health” as well as ballooning NHS waiting lists following the pandemic.

Passing the peak of the pandemic has been a bit like a receding tide, revealing the underlying health of our nation. It’s revealed some fractures within and in many cases the pandemic has deepened those fractures.

As PA Media reports, Javid pointed to disparities in Covid admissions between the most and least deprived parts of the country, and the difference in mortality rates between white people and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups. “These are symptoms of a different disease, the disease of disparity,” he said.

Javid said the the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) would have a “relentless focus” on health inequalities as part of the government’s “levelling up” agenda. But he said this would involve tackling other inequalities too.

While I said we can’t level up economically without levelling up in health, it’s equally true that we can’t tackle health disparities without tackling wider disparities too.

Javid also said he valued mental health as much as physical health.

I value mental health as much as physical health. I believe in the parity of esteem, because when you’re healthier you’re happier, and when you’re happier you’re healthier. It’s my job to ensure that virtuous circle is right at the heart of health policy.

As Nathan Gamester from the CSJ reports, Javid also said that the NHS’s vaccine booster programme has started.

Health Secretary @sajidjavid just revealed that the first person to receive their booster vaccine got it earlier today.

— Nathan Gamester (@NathanGamester) September 16, 2021

Lord Frost invites public to suggest legacy EU regulations that could be scrapped

Lord Frost has announced a review of all EU laws that have been retained after Brexit to see if any more of them can be abolished.

The Brexit minister announced the review as he gave details of how the government had already drawn up plans to abandon a series of regulations that date from Britain’s membership of the EU.

When Britain left the EU, in order to provide continuity, a vast amount of EU law was effectively incorporated into UK domestic law. It is known as retained EU law, and the government always intended to amend or repeal some of it over time.

Announcing the new move, the Cabinet Office said:

Thousands of individual EU regulations automatically kept on the statute book after Brexit - known as retained EU law – will be scrutinised by the government to ensure they are helping the UK to thrive as a modern, dynamic, independent country and foster innovation across the British economy. The review will aim to remove the ‘special status’ that EU retained law still enjoys in our legal framework and will determine how best to ensure that UK courts can no longer give undue precedence to EU-derived laws in future. This will be done while providing businesses and citizens with legal certainty and will continue the process of restoring the UK parliament to its proper constitutional position.

Frost has also said the government would set up a commission to allow people to suggest EU rules suitable for repeal. The Cabinet Office said:

The government also plans to establish a new commission through which the public will be able to identify additional opportunities for cutting or reforming red tape and bureaucracy. Any individual will be able to submit proposals. The commission will then consider these ideas and make recommendations for change to the government - but only if they go in the direction of reducing or eliminating regulation.

During the 2016 referendum Brexiters sometimes struggled to identify EU regulations they felt were unnecessary. David Cameron’s coalition government ordered a full-scale assessment of EU law, the balance of competences review, but was accused of burying the findings when it concluded that EU “red tape” was not as damaging as the Eurosceptics claimed.

Today the government has also published a four-page document (pdf) giving details of EU rules it is already planning to amend or abolish. Many of the proposals will be uncontroversial, but the Cabinet Office also says it wants to “reform the regulations around gene-edited organisms”, which may prove more contentious.

Lord Frost.
Lord Frost. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA


No 10 says Dominic Raab made deputy prime minister to 'formalise' his seniority

Here are the main points from the Downing Street lobby briefing.

  • No 10 said Dominic Raab was made deputy prime minister yesterday to “formalise” his seniority. Raab was moved from foreign secretary to justice secretary, which would normally be seen as a demotion, but he was also upgraded from first secretary of state to deputy PM, which could be seen as a promotion. Asked if Raab had been promoted, the spokesman at first said that he was in a “vital position” because dealing with criminal justice was a key function of government because he went to say that Boris Johnson did see the move to deputy PM as a promotion. The spokesman said:

This formalises Dominic Raab’s position as the prime minister’s deputy – he will stand in for him at PMQs, it demonstrates his seniority within government and the trust the prime minister places with him.

Asked what the difference was between being first secretary and deputy PM, the spokesman added:

You can expect him to be involved in cross-governmental work when that is necessitated. I’m not going to be prescriptive while we are still in the midst of this process. It is clear he will play an important senior role in government.

Asked if Johnson only gave Raab the title of deputy prime minister in response to Raab complaining about the move to justice, the spokesman said he would not comment on private conversations.

  • The spokesman dismissed claims the Aukus deal had damaged relations with France. (See 12.23pm.)
  • The spokesman suggested the Aukus deal could be seen as a benefit of Brexit. He said:

I wouldn’t dispute the fact that we’re able to move in this way now we’re not a part of the European Union and that is to the benefit of the British people.

More broadly, we believe the approach we’ve taken is the correct one, it is something the public voted for and it is already bringing benefits to the public.

  • The spokesman said Johnson would meet Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, later today. She is in the UK for a G7 speakers’ conference being hosted by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, in his constituency at the weekend.
10 Downing Street.
10 Downing Street. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


Sturgeon says military may be asked to help ambulance service cope with demand in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon has revealed the Scottish government is considering seeking “targeted military assistance” to ease pressure on the Scottish ambulance service, as Douglas Ross pressed her on crisis-level delays.

At first minister’s questions in the Scottish parliament, Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, highlighted a horrific case reported by the Herald’s health correspondent Helen McArdle, where a frail pensioner found collapsed at his home in Glasgow died following a 40-hour wait for an ambulance.

An investigation is now under way, as the family of 65-year-old Gerard Brown said they have been told that the delay cost the their father his life, with the man’s GP - who repeatedly warned 999 call handlers that his status was critical - branding the service as “third world medicine”.

Sturgeon apologised unreservedly for “unacceptable” delays in answering 999 calls and told MSPs that almost 300 additional paramedics and technicians were being recruited. She said the service was currently operating at level 4, its highest level of escalation.

The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, referred to another incident where 86-year-old Lillian Briggs lay in agony on a hard floor for almost eight hours as she waited for an ambulance after fracturing her hip.

The exchanges came as the health secretary, Humza Yousaf, faced continued criticisms for remarks yesterday, where he said that people should “think twice” before calling an ambulance and only do so if it was “absolutely critical”, as he warned that the NHS was in for ”an extraordinarily difficult winter”.

His remarks were condemned as reckless by opposition parties. Sturgeon defended him this lunchtime, saying that she had seen similar comments from ambulance services across the country in recent days.

Nicola Sturgeon.
Nicola Sturgeon. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA


Johnson claims UK's relationship with France 'rock solid'

This is what Boris Johnson said in the Commons earlier about the relationship with France.

Our relationship with France, our military relationship with France ... is rock solid.

And we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the French, whether in the Sahel, where we are running a joint operation against terrorists in Mali, or whether in Estonia, where we currently we have the largest Nato operation.


UK did not set out to poach Australian submarine deal from France, defence secretary says

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has said that he understands why the French are angry about the Aukus deal. (See 12.03pm.) But he said that Britain did not “go fishing” to snatch the contract away from France. He said:

I understand France’s disappointment.

They had a contract with the Australians for diesel-electrics from 2016 and the Australians have taken this decision that they want to make a change.

We didn’t go fishing for that, but as a close ally when the Australians approached us of course we would consider it.

I understand France’s frustration about it.

Earlier in the Commons Boris Johnson said the UK’s military relationship with France was “rock solid”.

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace. Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock


No 10 dismisses claims Aukus deal has damaged relations with France

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman dismissed suggestions that the Aukus pact may have damaged the UK’s relationship with France. Asked about the French government’s response to the deal (see 12.03pm), he said:

As the prime minister set out in the house, we have and continue to have a very close relationship with France. We have longstanding security and defence relationships, as exemplified by the Lancaster House treaties and as exemplified by our combined joint expeditionary force.

The spokesman said any dispute about the submarine contract was a matter for France and Australia.

I will post more from the briefing soon.

For an alternative view on the Aukus submarine decision to that of the French government (see 12.03pm), do read this analysis published by the Lowy Institute, an Australian foreign policy thinktank. “The single best piece of news to come out of this announcement is that Australia will cancel the Attack-class submarine program with France’s Naval Group,” Sam Roggeveen writes. “This is unquestionably a good thing. The project was going to deliver submarines too late and at eye-watering cost.”

French foreign minister says he's 'angry and bitter' about new Aukus partnership agreed by Johnson

The Aukus partnership announced last night has infuriated the French government. France had a deal to supply Australia with submarines, but that has now been superseded by the arrangement with the UK and the US.

As Reuters reports, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, has described this apparent betrayal as “brutal” and the sort of thing you would expect from Donald Trump. He said:

This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do. I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.

The French reconfirmed their deal with Australia only two weeks ago and Le Drian was particularly bitter about their role. He said:

It’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.


While Gavin Williamson’s sacking took the limelight, a more seismic shift came last night when the schools minister Nick Gibb announced that his tenure was ending, to the surprise of many.

Gibb was first appointed to the role under Michael Gove in 2010 until he was replaced by David Laws in the coalition government in 2012 - but less than two years later Gibb was back at the DfE and remained there until now.

Congratulations to @nadhimzahawi who will do a superb job in building on the reforms of the last ten years. I am sad not to be continuing as Schools Minister. It has been a privilege to play a part in helping improve the life chances of the next generation.

— Nick Gibb (@NickGibbUK) September 15, 2021

While five education secretaries have come and gone in that period Gibb has been the fixed point in England’s school system, pushing for the use of phonics to teach literacy in primary schools and driving the Gove-era emphasis on testing and exams as well as a focus on more academic subjects in secondary schools.

Gibb had become a polarising figure, seen by some in the schools sector as an éminence grise with an outsized influence, especially under Williamson, but narrow-minded in ideological and pedagogical matters.

But among those who favoured more traditional teaching Gibb was seen as a champion of issues such as a “knowledge-rich curriculum”. Most recently he was behind the ongoing attempts to reform initial teaching training, which has been opposed by universities because they stand to lose autonomy in how they train their student teachers.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and a former school head, said of Gibb:

His views on education divide opinion, but there is no doubt about his deep sense of commitment to improving the life chances of children or his sense of certainty in terms of policy.

He has perhaps been a little too certain about some of the government’s reforms, however, which do need revisiting.


Speaking in the Commons earlier, Boris Johnson said that cooperation to enable Australia to have nuclear-powered submarines would be just the start of the new Aukus partnership. He said:

This is just the beginning of collaboration on defence technology and, I have mentioned, of the areas where we now wish to go further - cyber, AI, undersea defences; there are many areas now where countries that have shared values, shared belief in democracy will want to take collaboration much further.

The Sutton Trust, which campaigns for social mobility through education, has published an analysis of the educational backgrounds of the new cabinet and it shows a minor move away from the traditional independent school/Oxbridge pipeline. Here are the key figures.

  • 60% of the cabinet attended independent schools, a slight decrease from Boris Johnson’s previous cabinet (65%). This compares to 29% among MPs in the House of Commons.
  • There is a small increase in the proportion of cabinet ministers educated at comprehensives, from 27% in 2020, to 33% today.
  • Of the 30 ministers attending Johnson’s latest cabinet, almost half (46%) went to Oxbridge. This compares with 27% of all Conservative MPs and 18% of Labour MPs.
  • A quarter of cabinet ministers were educated at both independent schools and Oxbridge.
% of cabinet ministers who are privately educated
% of cabinet ministers who are privately educated Photograph: Sutton Trust

The Boris Johnson statement is now over. For a prime ministerial statement, it was over very quickly, but that is because most MPs had little notice that it was coming and many are not in London on a Thursday. Johnson presented it as a jobs announcement almost as much as a foreign policy initiative, and broadly it was welcomed.

I have updated some of the earlier posts with direct quotes. To get them to appear, you may need to refresh the page.

Back in the Commons the SNP’s Gavin Newlands asked Boris Johnson to deny reports that, if Scotland were to become independent, the rest of the UK would seek to keep the Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland as British territory.

Earlier this month the Financial Times said this was being considered as an option in the event of Scotland voting to leave the UK. There were similar reports ahead of the 2014 referendum.

In his response Johnson ignored the question altogether, and just said most commonsensical people would welcome the arrival of jobs in the the UK, particularly in Scotland.

Here is an analysis of the Aukus initiative from my colleague Dan Sabbagh, the Guardian’s defence and security editor. He quotes a White House official calling it “a downpayment” on the “concept of global Britain”, and says President Biden now expects the UK to be more present in the Indo-Pacific.

Whittingdale sacked as culture minister

Turning back to the reshuffle for a moment, John Whittingdale has announced that he has been sacked as a culture minister.

I am sorry to be stepping down as Minister for Media and Data and saying goodbye to a great team of ministers and officials. It has been a privilege to play a part in shaping the future of UK public service broadcasting and in reforming our data laws using our new Brexit freedom

— John Whittingdale (@JWhittingdale) September 16, 2021

Whittingdale was unusual in that he was culture secretary under David Cameron, but subsequently returned to government under Boris Johnson as a more junior minister in the department he used to run.


Theresa May, the former PM, asks what the implications of this would be if China were to invade Taiwan.

Johnson says the government is determined to defend internal law, and that is the advice it would give to Beijing.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says he welcomes international cooperation with allies.

But he asks for an assurance that this agreement will not be used to supply Australia with nuclear weapons.

Johnson says there is no risk of the deal breaking the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

It is a defence technology agreement that is “very sensible”, be says.

Johnson says new US, UK, Australia partnership 'not intended to be adversarial' towards China

Johnson is replying to Starmer.

He says this initiative is not about confronting China; it is about support the UK’s allies, he says.

It is important to understand that Aukus [the name for the Australia, UK, UK partnership] is not intended to be adversarial towards any other power. It merely reflects the close relationship that we have with the United States and with Australia.

On the subject of jobs, he says a scoping exercise will establish what opportunities there are. But he says there are pools of expertise in the UK, and he is no doubt there is an opportunity for hundreds of high-wage jobs to be created.

What I can say is that there will be an 18-month scoping exercise to establish where the work should go between the three partners. But clearly there are deep pools of expertise throughout the United Kingdom.

There is expertise across the United Kingdom and I have no doubt whatever that it will bring hundreds of high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the kind that we want to see in our country, and increasingly are seeing.

He ends by welcoming Starmer’s support for Nato, saying that at the last election he was campaigning to install a prime minister who had been opposed to Nato (Jeremy Corbyn).


Sir Keir Starmer says Labour welcomes the strengthening of the partnership with the US and Australia.

But he asks how it will affect relations with China.

Johnson says nuclear submarine partnership will create hundreds of skilled jobs in UK

Johnson says nuclear-powered submarines are the “capital ships of our age” because they are propelled with an “effectively inexhaustible source of energy, allowing them to circumnavigate the world without surfacing, deriving oxygen and fresh water from the sea around them”.

He says he has no problem trusting Australia in a military partnership of this kind. “We are as closely aligned in international policy as any two countries in the world,” he says.

He says Australia, the UK and the US are now “inseparable partners” in a project that will last decades.

He says this shows what the tilt towards the Indo-Pacific means in reality.

The integrated review of foreign and defence policy described Britain’s renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific, a region that is fast becoming the geopolitical centre of the world, ever more important for British trade and therefore for British jobs and British livelihoods.

If there was ever any question about what global Britain’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific would mean in reality or what capabilities we might offer, then this partnership with Australia and the US provides the answer.

It amounts to a new pillar of a strategy demonstrating Britain’s generational commitment to the security of the Indo-Pacific and showing exactly how we can help one of our oldest friends to preserve regional stability.

A nuclear submarine programme is unlike any other engineering project, he says. He says this partnership will “strengthen Britain’s position as a science and technology superpower”. He says it will create hundreds of highly skilled jobs in the UK.


Boris Johnson's Commons statement on new US/UK/Australia military partnership

Boris Johnson is now making a Commons statement about the new US/UK/Australia military partnership.

Here is our overnight story about the announcement.

And here is the statement issued by Johnson about this last night.

Here is my colleague Jessica Elgot’s analysis of yesterday’s reshuffle.

Here is an extract.

Whitehall sources said the casualties were intended to put his ministers on notice about the prime minister’s strength of position. Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, lost his job despite no discernible wrongdoing. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, was unceremoniously fired despite fears he could be a threat on the backbenches. One government source said all ministers “would know they are dispensable”.

One Tory compared the reshuffle to Margaret Thatcher’s 1981 “purge of the wets” – a brutal show of authority after 18 months of rebellions and U-turns. “Boris has shown people he’s in charge,” they said. “People won’t mess around now. Anyone can get chopped.”

And here are four other reshuffle analysis articles that are well worth reading.

Rather, the performance of ministers shows up, by and large, in where the members place them. At any rate, the government’s spin on the shuffle this morning is that the new cabinet is stronger than the old one, and so better placed to build back better and level up Britain.

This is true as far as it goes. Michael Gove is a more formidable politician than Robert Jenrick; Nadhim Zahawi a more capable executive than Gavin Williamson, Oliver Dowden a more experienced manager than Amanda Milling.

But the point of the reshuffle is not only, or even primarily, to bring a sharper cutting edge to reform. It is to tighten the grip of Johnson’s chunky fist on power, now that he has decided a shuffle can no longer be postponed.

For those promoted are either Johnson loyalists, like Nadine Dorries and Anne-Marie Trevelyan; sent sideways to do a specific job, like Oliver Dowden or Steve Barclay, or placed where they won’t be a threat to the prime minister’s leadership.

While other changes may generate more headlines, the key move is the appointment of Michael Gove as communities and housing secretary with a particular focus on the levelling-up agenda. Whatever criticisms are made of Gove’s politics, he is seen by Johnson as an effective and forceful minister who is more likely than most to turn what has heretofore been a nebulous slogan into a detailed strategy. Gove has become Johnson’s go-to minister for major strategic challenges and his appointment signals the prime minister’s concern that the huge expectations he has stoked need to be turned into visible delivery.

What’s harder to divine is any one strong political ideology, or any radical guiding idea. Certainly, politicians popular with the Tory party like Truss seem to have prospered. Loyalty to the prime minister himself seems to have been rewarded.

But it’s not a Brexit cabinet, or a small-state cabinet, or to use Tory verbiage, a “one-nation” cabinet for those more in the middle.

It’s a Johnson cabinet, with no particular bent towards any one faction or tribe. For some of his backers, that is one of Mr Johnson’s attributes - he’s not wedded to principle, but staying on top. For other Tories, that’s rather the problem - with no one strong ideology other than a desire to win, it begs the question of what it’s all really for.

This was a prime minister today who, in the words of one of his colleagues, was “cordial but clinical”. “It was a butcher’s yard.”

There’s no doubt his success in driving the health and social care tax levy through the backbenches has emboldened the prime minister but he knows all too well that shuffling the deck always carries risk as the swell of discontent grows.

But in the past 10 days, he has clearly defined what he wants from his government. The question is whether he can deliver it.


In the Commons John Nicholson, the SNP’s culture spokesperson in the Commons, gives Nadine Dorries a less warm welcome, saying that she has a long anti-gay rights record. “Just as well there are no homosexuals in the arts sector,” he says sarcastically.

This is what Benjamin Cohen from Pink News tweeted about Dorries’ record on gay rights yesterday.

In 2012, new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries claimed that she had never met a single gay couple who wanted to marry. When @PinkNews published this, thousands of gay couples tried to enlighten her. She voted against same-sex marriage anyway saying it took ‘sex out of marriage’

— Benjamin Cohen (@benjamincohen) September 15, 2021


In the Commons David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, tells Nadine Dorries that he welcomes her appointment to cabinet, saying it shows “you don’t need to be a boring conformist to get on”.

The latest edition of the Guardian’s Politics Weekly podcast is out. In a reshuffle special, Aubrey Allegretti and Rowena Mason look at the winners and losers of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle. Plus, Jessica Elgot and Rafael Behr analyse the government’s Covid winter plan.

BBC director general says he will not be 'distracted' by Dorries' previous attacks on corporation

Tim Davie, the BBC director general, said this morning that he would not be “distracted” by the previous anti-BBC comments from Nadine Dorries, the new culture secretary. Asked about some of her previous remarks, he told the RTS Cambridge Convention 2021:

I wouldn’t get too distracted by it; it’s all about sitting down with the ministers and the teams and really getting into it, I’m not distracted by it. I think we have got a strong case for investment in the BBC.

Davie also said he was looking forward to meeting Dorries.

We need a really serious, grown-up dialogue with government, it’s an incredibly important topic. There will always be a bit of theatre but we will sit down and have a proper dialogue around the BBC, and I look forward to it.

Boris Johnson will make a statement in the Commons later on the new US/UK/Australia security partnership, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons has announced.

Later today the Prime Minister will make a statement updating MPs on AUKUS.

— Leader of the House of Commons (@CommonsLeader) September 16, 2021

Normally a statement of this kind would come at 10.30am.


In the Commons Nadine Dorries, the new culture secretary, is now taking questions. The first question was about the review of football governance, and Dorries started by talking about her own football credentials. Her great grandfather was one of the founders of Everton football club, she said - although she stressed that she herself was a Liverpool fan.

Good morning. Yesterday Boris Johnson carried out a cabinet reshuffle that turned out to be bolder, more far-reaching, more interesting, and probably more strategic, than most people were expecting. It was also remarkably smooth by reshuffle standards. Only Dominic Raab seemed to offer much resistance to what was proposed, and as far as we know at this point Johnson was able to make all his cabinet appointments according to plan.

Here is our overnight story.

And there is more to come, because today Johnson is reshuffling more junior ministers. Downing Street has just sent out the first announcement.

  • Penny Mordaunt, who was defence secretary when Theresa May was PM and who until yesterday was paymaster general in the Cabinet Office, becomes a minister of state at the Department for International Trade.
  • Michael Ellis replaces her as paymaster general. Until recently he was attorney general, covering for Suella Braverman while she took maternity leave.

Mordaunt used Twitter earlier this morning to announce she was moving.

Thank you to @cabinetoffice colleagues and partners for the last 20 months and all we achieved. Especially proud of the overhaul of the risk register, 1HMG cyber and the new resilience strategy. We are on track to be the most resilient nation. 🇬🇧

— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) September 16, 2021

Pleased to have helped so many parliamentary colleagues, especially the 2019ers, through their pandemic casework and to have served on the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and partnership council to get Brexit done.

— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) September 16, 2021

Privilege to have made progress for those affected by the infected blood scandal, inc. getting compensation work underway. TY to all those who gave me their time and testimony, and Sir Brian, Sir Robert, @DianaJohnsonMP and the APPG. No longer your Minister, still on your team.

— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) September 16, 2021

Good luck to my successor and…look after the cats!

— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) September 16, 2021

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Nadine Dorries, the new culture secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

9.30am: The ONS publishes its latest Covid antibodies survey, plus new figures about the symptoms of people with coronavirus.

10.20am: Will Quince and Mims Davies, who are both welfare ministers, give evidence to the Commons work and pensions committee about the universal credit cut.

11.30am: Downing Street holds its daily lobby briefing.

12pm: Sajid Javid, the health secretary, gives a speech in Blackpool on his vision for levelling up in health.

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions in the Scottish parliament.

For further Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at



Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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