The one remaining solicitor in the ministerial team at the Ministry of Justice has left, Downing Street has confirmed.
Shailesh Vara, a former City lawyer, left his post last week after almost three years as a justice minister.
His departure marks a clean sweep of the department, with secretary of state Michael Gove, Vara and fellow minister Lord Faulks all departing.
Sir Oliver Heald, a barrister appointed as a minister over the weekend, is the only member of the new team with any background in the legal profession.
Vara had gained a reputation for troubleshooting – and carrying the can for unpopular stories involving the MoJ. He was given responsibility for announcing court closures earlier this year, had to apologise for an online divorce settlement leaving hundreds of settlements in doubt, and confirmed fee rises designed to fund the courts.
Vara was forced to defend the government’s record on court fees during select committee meetings and had promised a review of employment tribunal fees would be published at the end of last year.
That review has still yet to surface, and Vara’s replacement will no doubt have to take time to pick up his brief and consider the findings of the report afresh.
Vara’s return to the backbenches was expected after he had supported Michael Gove as a leadership candidate.
He told The Hunts Post newspaper: ‘It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have served as a minister in government. First in the whips’ office, and then at the MoJ and for the past year jointly at the Department for Work and Pensions.
‘Our country has huge challenges ahead and I am confident that in Theresa May we have the right person to lead us. I look forward to continuing to support her as we work towards a one-nation agenda.’