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Boris Johnson embarks on last-ditch reshuffle | Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has embarked on a last-ditch cabinet reshuffle, less than an hour before he is expected to announce his resignation, after a mass walkout of ministers made his position untenable.

Former business secretary Greg Clark will be the new levelling up secretary, and James Cleverly will take over as education secretary, the prime minister announced, as he began trying to shore up his authority by filling posts vacated in the past 72 hours.

Michele Donelan resigned as education secretary on Thursday morning, withdrawing her support for the prime minister, after little more than a day in the post.

Clark was one of those Tory MPs whom Johnson stripped of the whip in 2019 for trying to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Others expected to be appointed to to key roles include Johnson loyalist Kit Malthouse.

The prime minister sacked Clark’s predecessor, Michael Gove, late on Wednesday evening, and told other cabinet ministers who had urged him to resign that he was determined to remain in post.

But the resignations and declarations of no confidence continued into Thursday morning, with even Nadhim Zahawi, who only became chancellor on Monday, withdrawing his support.

Johnson is now expected to say that he will go, but intends to remain in No 10 until October while a leadership contest takes place, in a timetable agreed with chair of the backbench 1922 Committee Graham Brady.

However, many senior party figures have made clear they believe he should step down sooner. The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, tweeted: “We now need a new leader as soon as practicable. Someone who can rebuild trust, heal the country, and set out a new, sensible and consistent economic approach to help families.”

The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, is cutting short a trip to Indonesia and is expected to issue a statement shortly after Johnson’s resignation, which is expected around lunchtime on Thursday.

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Ministers sought to reassure MPs the UK still has a functioning government on Thursday, despite more than 50 resignations. “We’re getting on with the business of government, calmly,” the leader of the House of Commons, Mark Spencer, told MPs.

Johnson’s departure was triggered by the revelation that Johnson knew about the past transgressions Tamworth MP Chris Pincher before appointing him to the role of deputy chief whip.

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