An ally of George Osborne has been sacked from the Government by Theresa May as she continues to carry out the post-General Election reshuffle of her ministerial team.
Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon was asked to leave by Mrs May and revealed she did not give a reason for her decision, adding: “The Prime Minister has to make these decisions, I wasn’t really given a reason”.
Mr Halfon formerly served as parliamentary private secretary to Mr Osborne, who has been highly critical of Mrs May since her disastrous election campaign saw the Tories lose their House of Commons majority.
The former chancellor on Sunday described the PM as a “dead woman walking”, warning she could be ousted from No 10 in a matter of days.
But Mr Halfon would not be drawn on suggestions his closeness to Mr Osborne may have accounted for his sacking, telling the Press Association: “I don’t want to get involved in any of that, I mean she appointed me after she became leader last year and it was an honour to do it.”
Mr Halfon, thought of as a widely respected figure in the Conservative Party, said he “loved the job” and had an “absolute passion” for apprenticeships and skills.
He said he visited “outstanding” apprentices up and down the country, that he was proud to help deliver a record 900,000 apprenticeships and to have passed the Technical and Further Education Act.
Mr Halfon said apprenticeships should be the Tories’ “major number one offering” to young people to counter Labour’s pledge to scrap university tuition fees.
He added: “One thing I’m not going to do is I’m not the kind of person to start criticising the Prime Minister but I do believe that we need to start offering things to young people and one of those things is apprenticeships, technical skills, and to give them that ladder.
“We are the party of the ladder.”
Other junior ministers sacked from the Government are:
:: Defence minister Mike Penning
:: Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald
:: Brexit minister David Jones
Mrs May has appointed the following MPs as ministers of state:
:: Nick Hurd as a Home Office minister
:: Dominic Raab as justice minister
:: Anne Milton as education minister
:: Robert Goodwill as education minister
:: Baroness Anelay as Brexit minister
:: Claire Perry as business minister
Mel Stride has also been appointed financial secretary to the Treasury.