An MP has been sacked as a cabinet minister during a reshuffle aimed at preparing the future generation of Conservatives.

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has been removed of her position as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary “to make way for someone new”, she said.

Mrs Villiers returned to the front benches six months ago after Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister.

But as NO 10 confirmed Mr Johnson wants to “promote a generation of future talent” in the party, it will see Mrs Villiers return to the back benches.

In a statement on Facebook, Mrs Villiers said she is “deeply grateful” to have been given the opportunity to serve “at the highest level of Government”.

She said: “Protecting nature and our green spaces is something I have championed throughout my time as MP. While my time at Defra was short, I am proud that under my leadership, we published the most important Environment Bill for decades, setting out a world leading framework to protect nature, improve air quality and tackle plastics pollution; we published an Agriculture Bill with environmental goals at its heart; and a Fisheries Bill which will take back control of our waters and start to reverse the betrayal of our fishing communities which took place when we joined the EU.

“I also played my part in drafting a Conservative manifesto with stronger commitments on the environment than ever before, including the most ambitious programme any government has ever proposed on planting millions of trees.”

Mrs Villiers added that she was “sad” to no longer be part of the cabinet, but said she will give her “full support” to the Prime Minister and his new cabinet.

She said: “Whether it is in the Cabinet, in Parliament, or in any other walk of life, if there is one thing we should all strive for, it is to safeguard our natural environment for future generations. From the backbenches, I shall continue to campaign to protect nature and address disastrous climate change, as well as fighting hard on all the other crucial issues which matter to my constituents in Chipping Barnet.

“I wish the Prime Minister and his new Cabinet well in the tasks ahead of them.”

As the reshuffle goes ahead, a No 10 source said: "The Prime Minister wants this reshuffle to set the foundations for government now and in the future.

"He wants to promote a generation of talent that will be promoted further in the coming years.

"He will reward those MPs who have worked hard to deliver on this Government's priorities to level up the whole country and deliver the change people voted for last year."

The most junior ministerial rank - parliamentary under-secretary of state level - is likely to have a 50-50 gender split after the reshuffle.

By the summer, Mr Johnson also aims to ensure that at least 60% of ministerial aides - the parliamentary private secretaries - will be women, up from 18% at present.

Other factors at play in this reshuffle include filling the vacant role in charge of the Cop26 UN climate summit following the sacking of Claire O'Neill and deciding whether Steve Barclay will return to Government after the Brexit department was scrapped following the January 31 departure from the European Union.

Senior ministers including Chancellor Sajid Javid, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab are expected to remain in place while Downing Street has confirmed that Grant Shapps will stay on as Transport Secretary.

To read the full statement from Theresa Villiers click here