Boris Johnson has sacked four Cabinet ministers and two others as he begins a brutal reshuffle of his top team.
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith was the first on the list to get axed just weeks after he was celebrated for restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers also lost her job just weeks after clinging onto her seat at the election.
They were followed by the business secretary Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey as housing minister, and Geoffrey Cox as attorney general during this morning’s cabinet reshuffle.
The reshuffle comes as Mr Johnson has been prompted to “fess up” over who paid for his £15,000 luxury Caribbean holiday after a Tory donor David Ross denied funding the 10-day winter break with partner Carrie Symonds.
Boris Johnson tried to brush off questions over who funded the lavish holiday by booting out a string of ministers, many of them women.
They were set to be replaced by other women, and women will get more junior jobs with a 50/50 junior split. But when it comes to the Cabinet itself, there are still just seven women out of 22 round the table.
But claims of a massive clearout of the most senior Cabinet ministers appear wide of the mark, with Chancellor Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expected to keep their jobs.
I hear Julian Smith sacking is linked to his comments at the height of the Brexit tension last autumn.
He told MPs no deal would be “very, very bad” for NI; was put on resignation watch over prospect of direct rule… rather than claims PM was “blindsided” by the Stormont deal https://t.co/oYfG6lY7bj
— Tamara Cohen (@tamcohen) February 13, 2020
This reshuffle shows that dissent will not be tolerated by No10.
Leadsom, Smith, Cox, had all stood up to Boris during Cabinet meetings, all now gone. Others, like Villiers and Skidmore, sacked for lack of dynamism.
— Gordon Rayner (@gordonrayner) February 13, 2020
U have been such an effective SOS for NI at a time of real challenge & risk. Without your leadership I don’t believe NI would have a Govt today. Thank you @JulianSmithUK for your trust, friendship and courage; UK & #Ireland can look to future with more confidence because of it.
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) February 13, 2020