Patrick McLoughlin has replaced Justine Greening as transport secretary in prime minister David Cameron’s first proper Cabinet reshuffle.
Greening’s exit from the Department for Transport was widely expected as she had been a staunch opponent of construction of a third runway at Heathrow airport.
In recent weeks a succession of senior Tories have called on prime minister David Cameron to rethink his position on Heathrow.
McLoughlin has himself voted against the expansion of Heathrow, most recently in a Parliamentary debate in 2009 when he called for a “rethink” of the then government’s policy. But he is likely to be less resistant to the plans than Putney MP Greening, who had made it clear that she would never condone such an expansion.
Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales, McLouglin is a former coalminer and agricultural worker and has experience of the transport brief, having served as a minister in the Department for Transport during the reign of Margaret Thatcher with responsibility for aviation and shipping. He subsequently served in the Department of Employment, the Department of Trade and Industry before being removed by the then prime minister John Major. Under Cameron he served as chief whip and parliamentary secretary to the Treasury.
Rail minister Theresa Villiers has also left the Department for Transport. She has been promoted to Northern Ireland secretary. Her replacement has yet to be revealed.