George Osbourne led the applause for MP Robert Halfon after he was elevated to the cabinet, writes Justin Cohen.
The Harlow MP, a champion of consumer rights during his first term in Parliament, was named by David Cameron as minister without portfolio and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.
Halfon, a former political director of Conservative Friends of Israel and parliamentary private secretary to the chancellor, told Jewish News it was a “huge surprise” to receive the call. “I’ve been involved in the party since the age of 14 – it’s like a family – and to have a part in helping it move forward and represent working people is a huge honour.”
Lord Andrew Feldman will remain as chairman, but will no longer share the role with Grant Shapps, who becomes a minister in the department for international development. Both Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood remain in post.
Meanwhile, the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Parliamentary Committee against anti-Semitism were among those paying tribute to the work of “tremendously supportive” outgoing Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
Of his successor Greg Clark, Danny Stone, director of the PCAA Foundation, said he had “already been helpful in relation to cross-party efforts to combat electoral racism and we look forward to working with him and the new communities minister”.
Oliver Letwin will head the Cabinet Office, while Ros Altmann has been made Pensions minister. CFI director Stuart Polak, who collected a CBE at Buckingham Palace last week, said: “The prime minister has consistently spoken out clearly of his support for Israel and the Jewish community.
We are particularly delighted that the vast majority of those in the prime minister’s newly formed Cabinet are long-standing friends of Israel.” The shadow cabinet saw a more drastic reshuffle at the top, where Hilary Benn succeeds Douglas Alexander as shadow foreign secretary.
Ivan Lewis remains as shadow Northern Ireland secretary while Luciana Berger stays as shadow public health minister after retaining her Liverpool Wavertree seat with one of the biggest swings to Labour. Describing the overall election result as a “bitter disappointment”, Berger said: “I will do everything in my power over the next five years to play my part in ensuring that Labour learns the lessons of this election and secures a Labour government in 2020.”