The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary has been ditched after a string of controversies in the job, most notably a planning application involving the billionaire Richard Desmond
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Robert Jenrick has today been sacked as Housing Secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary confirmed the news in a tweet after a series of controversies in the role.
He tweeted: “It’s been a huge privilege to serve as Secretary of State @mhclg.
“Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved.
“I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can.”
Mr Jenrick was given the job at the start of Boris Johnson’s premiership in 2019. At 37 years old, the ambitious MP was the youngest member of the Cabinet.
But he faced a storm over a planning application involving the billionaire Richard Desmond, and his lockdown trip to deliver food to his parents.
Mr Jenrick faced major questions over his decision to approve a billionaire Tory donor’s £1bn housing development against the advice of a planning inspector.
The Housing Secretary gave Westferry Printworks, planned by Richard Desmond, the green light on January 14 – hours before a council levy kicked in that would have cost the developer around £40m.
It later emerged Mr Desmond showed the minister a video of the scheme on his phone at a Tory fundraising dinner in November 2019, and texted him asking him to approve it before the deadline.
In an e-mail dated January 9, 2020, a government official said Mr Jenrick was “insistent that decision issued this week ie tomorrow – as next week the viability of the scheme is impacted” by the levy.
Mr Desmond is not accused of wrongdoing, while Mr Jenrick has insisted that while there could have been an appearance of bias, there was no actual bias. But the minister cancelled his approval to avoid a perception of bias in favour of the scheme.
And Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called on Boris Johnson to “sack Robert Jenrick”.
During the first lockdown, Mr Jenrick defended escaping 150 miles from London to his £1.1million mansion in Herefordshire, saying his family were staying there.
He also defended a 40-mile trip from that home to visit his parents, saying he was bringing them food and medicine.
Government guidance said people should remain in their “primary residence” and not go to second or holiday homes to shelter from the virus.
But No10 said travelling hundreds of miles from work in London to return to the family home – even if one had a home in London too – was “essential travel”.
It comes after weeks of speculation that the Prime Minister would carry out a long-awaited reshuffle of his top team.
Mr Johnson hauled doomed ministers into his Commons office straight after Prime Minister’s Questions, with the full Cabinet expected to be unveiled later today.
The PM has been keen to regain control of the agenda after the Covid pandemic dominated his first two years in power.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland were sacked and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was thought to be in the firing line.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and International Trade Liz Truss have both been tipped for promotion.
The reshuffle also comes as Labour was due to force a vote in the Commons over the Government’s plan to cut Universal Credit by £20-a-week from next month.
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