British Prime Minister David Cameron reshuffles his coalition cabinet
PM resists calls to replace unpopular finance minister George Osborne
British Prime Minister David Cameron reshuffled his ailing coalition government yesterday, but kept unpopular finance minister George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
While most of the cabinet big hitters emerged unscathed, Cameron promoted culture minister Jeremy Hunt, who has battled calls to resign over his closeness to Rupert Murdoch's media empire, to the health ministry.
Addressing one of the pressing issues in his in tray as Parliament returned to work after the summer break, Cameron sacked Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who was seen as blocking the expansion of London's Heathrow airport.
Greening becomes international development minister while former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin takes over her transport brief, as the government faces increasingly urgent calls for an expansion of airport capacity in London.
In his first reshuffle since the coalition government came to power 21/2 years ago, Cameron sought to rejuvenate the Conservative Party element in the cabinet with an eye on the next general election, in 2015.
Kenneth Clarke, a former finance minister, was removed from the justice minister's job and given a roving role as a "wise head" in government, with Chris Grayling taking over his post.
Cameron moved a trusted lieutenant, Andrew Mitchell, from international development secretary to become chief whip, the government's enforcer for parliamentary business.
Cameron resisted calls to remove Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer who was roundly booed at the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in east London on Monday when he presented athletics medals at the Paralympics. Another key member of the cabinet, Home Secretary Theresa May, holds on to her job.
The Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners brought the former chief secretary to the Treasury David Laws back into government as a junior education minister.
The former banker was forced to quit a cabinet post just after the 2010 election over a row about a housing agreement with his male partner. Many observers believe he is destined for a more prominent job soon.
Hunt's promotion surprised political commentators. He had clung on to his job in April despite claims his office leaked confidential information to Murdoch's News Corp over its attempt to take full control of British pay-television giant BSkyB.