25 OCTOBER 2022 | ANALYSIS
The new leader of the Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak, was today invited by King Charles to form a new Government after winning the Conservative leadership contest yesterday. This means some of the faces will change within the Cabinet.
With the newly-appointed Prime Minister expected to announce his new Government imminently, some Ministers have already resigned – and some have been sacked.
As of this afternoon, there have been a variety of resignations that give an indication as to how the Cabinet could look being chaired by Mr Sunak.
The first major resignation of the day was Boris Johnson loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg, who backed Liz Truss in the final stage of the leadership contest that took place over the summer. He has resigned as Business Secretary, a post he was invited to take up by Ms Truss, having formerly served as Leader of the House of Commons in Johnson’s Cabinet. It is rumoured he ‘jumped before he was pushed’.
Brandon Lewis has also resigned as the Justice Secretary, and Chloe Smith announced earlier this afternoon on Twitter that she “looks forward to supporting Rishi Sunak from the backbenches”, having served as Secretary of State for the DWP.
Just the day before Liz Truss tendered her resignation as Prime Minister, her Chief Whip Wendy Morton found herself at the centre of controversy in Westminster when the whips were struck with allegations of “bullying” and “man-handling” Tory backbenchers during Labour’s vote to propose a ban on fracking on Opposition Day, which was also seen as a motion of confidence in the former Government. Ms Morton has declared she too is headed for the backbenches.
Education Secretary Kit Malthouse has also been sacked from his position after he was offered a demotion and declined it, reports BBC News.
Party Chairman Jake Berry and Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland, who served prominently as the Justice Minister under Johnson, have also left the Government. It is understood that Mr Buckland has been stood down at his own request.
Simon Clarke, who succeeded Tory heavyweight Michael Gove as the Levelling-Up Secretary, has resigned while pledging his “support” to Mr Sunak. The role was introduced under Mr Johnson as part of his manifesto commitment to “Level Up” the country’s North-South divide.
Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena has also resigned.
Dominic Raab, who worked closely with Mr Sunak under the Johnson administration but was sent back to the backbenches by Ms Truss, has been re-appointed to his positions of Justice Secretary and Deputy PM. Despite having served as a close ally to Mr Johnson, he was demoted to these positions from Foreign Secretary after widespread criticism of his response to the Taliban’s advance on Kabul in August 2021.
Wendy Morton has been replaced as Chief Whip by Simon Hart, previously the Welsh Secretary.
Former Chancellor and, more prominently, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has replaced Jake Berry as Party Chair.
Sky News reports that Grant Shapps will leave the Home Office just days into the role of Home Secretary, to instead become the Secretary of State for Business.
Suella Braverman is back as Home Secretary, following her dramatic resignation. She is widely reported to have resigned as a result of a disagreement with former PM Liz Truss over immigration. Whilst Braverman argued the Government needs to take a firmer stance, Truss was reported to be taking a more lenient stance – so her re-appointment may shed some light on Mr Sunak’s approach to the matter.
Mel Stride and Gillian Keegan have been appointed DWP Secretary and Education Secretary, respectively. Ms Keegan was previously a junior Minister in the Education Department.
A former Cabinet heavyweight, who has served as Deputy PM, Health Secretary and DWP Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has been reshuffled as Environment Secretary. Replacing Coffey as Health Secretary is Steve Barclay.
Making an anticipated return to Government is Michael Gove. With extensive experience in Cabinet, he will resume the role of Levelling-Up Secretary, which he held in Johnson’s Government before being sacked in its final hours.
Also returning to Government is Oliver Dowden as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He served previously as Culture Secretary and Deputy PM under Johnson.
The new Transport Secretary is Mark Harper, a prominent backbencher and Chairman of the Tory Party’s Covid Recovery Group, which sought to hold the Government to account during the pandemic over its Coronavirus legislation.
Former British Army officer Johnny Mercer will return to his post as Veterans Minister, and Victoria Prentis has been promoted to Attorney General.
The biggest re-appointment to come out of the Government’s Cabinet reshuffle so far is Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor. He was appointed by Truss in the fallout of her economic plan, as devised by the previous incumbent, Kwasi Kwarteng – most of which he will now reverse. Despite launching his leadership in the summer, he declared he would not stand to succeed Liz Truss, having only days before being promoted to the Prime Minister’s second-in-command.
James Cleverly, who has a large Ministerial portfolio, has been re-appointed as Foreign Secretary, having also been awarded the role by Ms Truss. Before being promoted, he served as a Minister in the Foreign Office.
Also keeping his position is Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is deemed to be popular amongst the parliamentary Conservative Party. He is a former British Army officer, who was rumoured to have been gathering support to replace Ms Truss when she resigned last week. However, he ultimately said he did not wish to stand for leadership.
Mr Sunak’s leadership rival Penny Mordaunt has been re-appointed to the role of Leader of the Commons, although it is reported she was hoping for a promotion.
Also retaining the roles they were appointed by Ms Truss are Kemi Badenoch and Michelle Donelan as International Trade Secretary and Culture Secretary, respectively. Ms Badenoch has further been given the responsibility of Minister for Women and Equalities, which she has held before under the prior Johnson administration.