Penny Mordaunt’s promotion has over-shadowed two major changes

It is important not to overlook the rise of Sarah Newton and Victoria Atkins.

On Thursday, following Priti Patel’s resignation, Penny Mordaunt was given the role of Secretary of State for International Development, as reported by the BBC. A resignation resulted in a replacement, and a replacement meant a minor reshuffle from below.

While Patel moved out and Mordaunt moved up, two new names filled the gaps.

According to the Guardian, Sarah Newton moved from her role as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office to take Mordaunt’s job as a Minister for Disabled People. This small movement up for Newton resulted in the promotion of newcomer Victoria Atkins to the Under-Secretary role.

Who are these two new faces?

1. Sarah Newton

Newton was first elected at the 2010 election, thus making her one of the fresh faces that is slowly pushing out the old guard from the government. She represents the South-West seat of Truro and Falmouth and has increased her share of the vote since the seat was created in seven years ago.

During the EU referendum, she backed Britain’s membership of the union.

2. Victoria Atkins

Atkins was first elected to parliament in 2015, making her the most senior Conservative MP of that cohort – with the exception of Boris Johnson who had previously served as an MP before leaving to become Mayor of London.

Atkins now fills the shoes of Newton, as this weeks events have resulted in her being promoted to the role of a Home Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary.

Like Newton, Atkins backed remain during the June 2016 EU referendum.


Three things are immediately striking about this minor reshuffle.

Firstly, both Newton and Atkins – and Mordaunt – are women.

Secondly, both are new to the political game. Newton’s promotion – and the rise of Gavin Williamson – shows the increasing prominence of MPs from the 2010 cohort, suggesting that the drive for fresh Tory blood is continuing. Atkinson’s promotion is perhaps more significant as she was only elected to parliament two years ago. She is certainly someone to watch for the future.

Thirdly, both new figures are remainers. Theresa May managed to keep the leave-remain balance at the top of government by replacing Patel by Mordaunt and Fallon by Williamson, but at the bottom, the remainers are rising in numbers.