Boris Johnson will carry out a Cabinet reshuffle to appoint a “strong and united” team, No 10 sources confirmed.
A shake-up of the Prime Minister’s top team has been long expected in Westminster.
“The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic,” A No 10 source said.
“Yesterday, the PM set out his plan for managing Covid during the autumn and winter.
“But the Government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities.
“The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.”
Confirmation of the reshuffle came as Mr Johnson was on his feet in the Commons taking Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Prime Minister’s presence in the Commons could allow him to sack ministers in his private office, away from the cameras in Downing Street.
The scale of the reshuffle remains unclear, but it could be extensive – with senior ministers including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab among those rumoured to be at risk of demotion or the sack.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has also come in for criticism over his handling of his departmental responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Ms Patel were sat to Mr Johnson’s left and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to his right – with other heavy hitters in the Cabinet not seen in the chamber.
Cabinet-level changes are expected to take place on Wednesday, but the shake-up of more junior ministerial ranks will continue on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Boris Johnson “understood the importance of having a diverse Cabinet” but would not guarantee that female representation around the table would be maintained at least at its current level following the reshuffle.
Mr Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings has branded the shake-up the “Carrie reshuffle”, suggesting that Mrs Johnson’s allies would be rewarded.
But asked if the Prime Minister’s wife had been consulted on the reshuffle, the official Downing Street spokesman said: “No.”