Theresa May begins new year with mini-reshuffle

London: The Tories' accident-prone streak continued in the new year as Theresa May's weaker than expected cabinet reshuffle began with an erroneous tweet from the Conservative Party's official Twitter account wrongly announcing the party's new chairman.

May's cabinet reshuffle was more limited than expected with the big names all keeping their jobs, including the gaffe-prone Boris Johnson keeping his position as foreign secretary, the newly promoted defence secretary Gavin Williamson staying on and Philip Hammond hanging on as Chancellor of the Exchequer after his Autumn Statement, or budget, was received well by Tory MPs.

Key Brexiteers Michael Gove and Liam Fox also kept their jobs.

Ministers the British press had speculated were for the chop, including Greg Clark, were kept in place.

Also surprising, was the health secretary Jeremy Hunt keeping his job and adding social care to his responsibilities.

The biggest casualty was the education secretary Justine Greening, who after spending almost three hours at Number 10 quit the government, rather than take on the work and pensions portfolio.

May's decision to reshuffle her cabinet was a sign that she felt her internal position had improved enough to make some substantial changes to her top team without sparking a leadership crisis. But with only sideways ministerial moves on Monday, the lack of any serious sackings suggests she still lacks authority.

The two-day, drawn out affair that is a reshuffle of the British ministry, which involves those being promoted and often those being demoted arriving at 10 Downing Street before their next career move is announced, began with drama, when the Conservatives official twitter account wrongly announced the new party chairman.

"Congratulations to Chris Grayling following his appointment as Conservative Party Chairman," the account tweeted. The BBC had been reporting at the time that Grayling would be named party chairman but the report and the tweet, were both wrong. The tweet was immediately deleted.

The post ended up going to 46-year old Brandon Lewis who was the first to arrive at Downing Street to meet May. Rising star James Cleverly, who is open about his prime ministerial ambitions, is a step closer to realising those with his first promotion -- he joins Cabinet as Lewis' deputy. The pair will be charged with modernising the Tories, rejuvenating the membership and improving the party's campaigning techniques, including using social media better.

Lewis replaces Sir Patrick McLoughlin as chairman, a veteran of the party and the parliament, having entered in 1986 and serving an under-secretary of state to Margaret Thatcher. Sir Patrick had only been chairman since 2016 but was widely blamed for last year's election result, where the Tories lost their majority.

He was also blamed for the disastrous party conference, where magnetic letters fell off during the Theresa May's speech which was being televised live. A lapse in vetting allowed a known prankster to attend the event and interrupt her speech.

The reshuffle was sparked in part by the resignation of May's ally, Damian Green as the de-facto deputy prime minister, after police who were investigating a separate matter revealed they had found thousands of pornographic images on his computer.

Green denies looking up porn but eventually resigned as the revelation came at the same time a Tory activist Kate Maltby accused him of behaving inappropriately toward her, a charge he also denied. David Lidington leaves the justice portfolio to replace Green as Minister for the cabinet office.

Changes to the junior ministry will take place on Tuesday, London time.

This story Theresa May begins new year with mini-reshuffle first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.