- 07 октября 2013, 15:13
Sacking of Lib Dem Scottish secretary to be followed by shake-up of Tory posts and opposition frontbenchers
Nick Clegg has kicked off a government reshuffle by sacking Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, and replacing him with Alistair Carmichael, the chief whip.
The surprise Liberal Democrat cabinet change is likely to be followed by a Tory shake-up of junior and middle-ranking ministers, with Esther McVey, Sajid Javid and Nicky Morgan some of the rising stars tipped for bigger jobs.
Sources said Clegg had decided to shift around his top team to put a more vocal spokesman in the role a year before the referendum on Scottish independence. Meanwhile, Carmichael will be replaced as Lib Dem chief whip by Don Foster.
David Cameron announced the start of his own reshuffle on Monday morning, with news of sackings and promotions to be broadcast via Twitter.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, is also planning to shift around his top team, potentially moving Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary; Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary; Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary; and Hilary Benn, the shadow communities secretary.
Moore's departure is likely to be the only change in the coalition cabinet team before a bigger reshuffle expected next spring.
There are already two vacant ministerial positions at a junior level. Simon Burns, a transport minister, resigned on Friday to stand in the forthcoming election for the post of deputy speaker of the Commons, while the coalition's youngest minister, Chloe Smith, resigned from the Cabinet Office on Sunday night to spend more time on constituency work. The long-serving Conservative deputy chief whip, John Randall, also stepped down after informing the prime minister last year he was ready to end 13 years in the whips' office.
Clegg told his Scottish secretary on Friday that he would be moved and said he there would undoubtedly be "opportunity for [his] talents to be deployed in government in future".
He praised Moore for taking on the job at a "critical time" in the country's relationship with the rest of the UK, adding that his cabinet minister had "managed the challenges of the situation with great skill and effectiveness".
"As we discussed when we spoke on Friday, I believe we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself and I am keen that, just as we have benefited from your formidable skills over the past three years, that we take advantage of other experience within our ranks during this period," he said.
"I am immensely grateful for all the work you have done at the Scotland Office and for the very significant contribution you have made to the first coalition government in 70 years."
Moore is said to be disappointed but in reply to the deputy prime minister, he said: "This has been, and will continue to be, a hugely important time in Scottish politics and that has made it a challenging and rewarding time to be secretary of state for Scotland."
He added: "In leaving the Scotland Office I am pleased that Alistair will be succeeding me. As a good friend and long-time colleague, I believe he will do a superb job. I wish him all the best."