BORIS Johnson went further than expected in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle.

This is a Prime Minister who, over the course of his premiership, has repeatedly refused to sack ministers that every Tom, Dick and Larry the Downing Street cat could see weren’t fit for the job.

He doesn’t like getting rid of people, preferring instead to ride out bad headlines and make excuses for bad ministers.

An orderly reshuffle of his top team offered Johnson an opportunity to take decisions that should have been made months ago. He gets to clear out the dead wood and shuffle the gaffe-prone off to one side.

While the appointment of junior ministers isn’t expected to be finalised until today, the meaty appointments were made over the course of a few frenzied hours in Westminster.

Dominic Raab has been moved from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary. He keeps his Deputy Prime Minister title but is said to be upset about his demotion. No doubt a few weeks on a beach somewhere will help cheer him up.

Liz Truss takes over from Raab as Foreign Secretary. Truss isn’t an obvious choice for one of the great offices of state but she is a favourite with the Tory grassroots. It’s the Ruth Davidson effect in action.

Gavin Williamson is out as Education Secretary, a fact that is likely to have teachers the length and breadth of England heading to the nearest pub for a celebratory pint.

His loyalty to Boris Johnson and the role he played in his successful bid to become Tory party leader is what got Williamson the job in the first place – and kept him there after he failed every test set for him.

There is no word yet as to whether Mr Williamson will be offered another Cabinet position, but it looks unlikely. What he does from the backbenches will be interesting. He may have been a useless Education Secretary but he is proficient in the dark arts of political skulduggery. Freed from the binds of collective responsibility and sore from his friend’s public loss of confidence, he could do some real damage.

Speaking of which, Rishi Sunak – unsurprisingly – stays on as Chancellor. It must have taken every ounce of Boris Johnson’s restraint not to sack the heir apparent and his biggest threat in Cabinet.

The National:

Priti Patel stays on as Home Secretary. Either she has ministerial talents and successes that she keeps extremely well hidden or she has dirt on Boris Johnson.

While we await the final details of the new Cabinet, it’s clear what Boris Johnson has tried to do with this unexpectedly wide-ranging shake-up and what message he wants to get across to the public.

He wants to reset the conversation, away from Covid, Brexit food and labour shortages, cuts to Universal Credit and tax hikes on those on low-incomes.

Fresh faces can help deliver a fresh message but that only takes you so far.

Boris Johnson had an opportunity to pair his ambitious rhetoric with a team of people who look equipped to deliver it. He wasted that opportunity. This Cabinet isn’t “levelling-up” in action, it’s politics plateaued.