Skidmore ‘promoted’ to the backbenches in cabinet reshuffle

The universities minister has been sacked in Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle

Chris Skidmore has been sacked from his role as universities minister, as Boris Johnson begins a reshuffle of his top team.

Michelle Donelan has been appointed as his replacement.

In his tweet, the MP for Kingswood said: “Got a promotion in the #reshuffle to be a better Dad with more time to spend with this gorgeous little one…. Thanks everyone who I’ve had the chance to work with and the civil service teams that have supported me- you have all been amazing.”

The South Gloucestershire parliamentarian has served in the role of universities minister on two occasion, first under Theresa May from December 2018 to July 2019, and most recently from September 2019 to January 2020.

His firing means there will have been five universities ministers in four and a half years.

The minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation is a junior ministerial role that covers remits in both the departments of education, and business, energy and industrial strategy. Skidmore’s boss at the latter department, Andrea Leadsom, has also been relieved of her duties in cabinet.

Mr Skidmore was a sceptic of some government higher education policy. He notably said relying on longitudinal education outcomes (LEO) data alone to make government HE policies would be “Orwellian”.

He also opposed the Augar review’s proposed reduction in tuition fees for English universities, which would see a new cap of £7,500 imposed. Mr Skidmore was also integral to discussions around the UK’s future relationship with the EU’s next research programme, Horizon Europe, post-Brexit.

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