The education secretary Justine Greening has quit government after being moved from her post in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle.
It is widely reported that Ms Greening, the first comprehensive-educated Tory education secretary, refused a switch to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The job she turned down was given instead to Esther McVey.
The Putney MP’s resistance followed days of newspaper reports suggesting she was facing the sack. The guardian reported that a government source said: “Justine was offered DWP but declined to take it. The prime minister is disappointed but respects her decision to leave government.”
Ms Greening, who has taken a close interest in technical education, had served in the role since July 2016, when she was drafted in by newly-appointed PM Theresa May.
Her resignation comes less than a month after she launched the government's social mobility strategy.
In her resignation statement she said: "Social mobility matters to me and our country more than a ministerial career.
"I'll continue to work outside of government to do everything I can to create a country for the first time that has equality of opportunity for young people wherever they are growing up."
Ms Greening has been replaced by Damian Hinds, while the cabinet "big four" of chancellor Philip Hammond, foreign secretary Boris Johnson, home secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit secretary David Davis all stayed in place.
Mr Hinds, the Conservative MP for East Hampshire, once chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility – a key issue for both the prime minister, and his immediate predecessor.
The newly appointed secretary, who studied philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford, tweeted that he was “delighted” by the appointment.
“Looking forward to working with the great teachers and lecturers in our schools, colleges and universities giving people the opportunities to make the most of their lives,” he said.
Challenges in his in-tray will include the government’s review of student funding in England, the row over vice-chancellors’ pay, and arrangements for student mobility post-Brexit.