Update 10:05am: David Cameron has just become the first-ever prime minister to announce a reshuffle via Twitter.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 7, 2013
While conducting a reshuffle of junior ministers, David Cameron isn’t expected to make any cabinet-level changes today (those will come next year), but Nick Clegg has taken the opportunity to do so.
Ahead of next year’s Scottish independence referendum, the Deputy PM has sacked Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and replaced him with the party’s chief whip Alistair Carmichael. While Moore is considered quietly effective at Westminster, the government clearly wanted a big hitter to take on Alex Salmond. No other cabinet changes are expected.
Meanwhile, the Labour reshuffle is now also expected to begin today.
In his letter to Moore, Clegg wrote:
I want to thank you for the vital role you have played as Secretary of State for Scotland over the past three years.
You became Scottish Secretary in 2010 at a critical time in Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom and you have managed the challenges of the situation with great skill and effectiveness.
Not only have you successfully piloted through legislation to enable Scotland to take a major step towards the party’s long held goal of ‘Home Rule’. but you have also ensured that the referendum next year will give the Scottish people a clear and decisive question on which to cast their vote.
It should be recognised that you secured both the Scotland Act and the Edinburgh Agreement in the context of a majority SNP government at Holyrood, and against a backdrop of an external political narrative that often suggested the legislation would fail and a referendum agreement could not be secured. You have achieved all of this while working ceaselessly for the interests of the Scottish people within the United Kingdom.
As we discussed when we spoke on Friday, I believe we now need to draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum itself and I am keen that just as we have benefited from your formidable skills over the past three years that we take advantage of other experience within our ranks during this period.
I am immensely grateful for all the work you have done at the Scotland Office and for the very significant contribution you have made to the first coalition government in 70 years. I have no doubt that there will be an opportunity for your talents to be deployed in government in the future.
Thank you for your letter.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the cabinet. Putting Liberal Democrat policies into practice in government has been our party’s ambition for a very long time and I have valued the chance to play a key role in it.
This has been, and will continue to be, a hugely important time in Scottish politics and that has made it a challenging and rewarding time to be Secretary of State for Scotland. Taking the Scotland Act through Parliament and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement have been the highlights of my time in office, as well as, more recently, making the case for Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom.
However, I have also valued the chance to get out and about around Scotland week after week to listen to the challenges facing people and make sure those are understood by colleagues elsewhere in government. I am glad that there are now early signs of economic recovery, but we must not lose sight of the huge difficulties many people still face.
Over the last few years I have worked with a superb team of civil servants and advisers in the Scotland Office, and other government departments, in very challenging circumstances. I do not think the support teams for ministers always get the credit they deserve: I am very grateful for the support they have given me.
In leaving the Scotland Office I am pleased that Alistair will be succeeding me. As a good friend and long time colleague, I believe he will do a superb job. I wish him all the best.