UNITED KINGDOM: Rishi Sunak, the UK’s new Prime Minister, has started reshuffling his cabinet to appoint his team of top ministers.
On his first day as PM, Sunak started fulfilling his vow that “work would begin immediately” within an hour of his meeting with King Charles III.
In the reshuffle, the cabinet witnessed some predictable choices as well as some that startled MPs.
As Sunak entered No. 10, he swore to correct the “mistakes” made by his predecessor’s government. In a significant speech delivered outside No. 10, he pledged to unite the nation and his party while also guaranteeing economic stability and confidence.
“Unity, experience, and continuity in some really key roles,” as per No. 10, was the message they wished to communicate.
The former director of communications for David Cameron, Sir Craig Oliver, mirrored No. 10’s message when he said: “Unity is the watchword of this reshuffle. It’s clear each part of the party will feel represented in some way. Mr. Sunak’s also not exiled big beasts to the backbenches where they can cause trouble—like Truss did with Michael Gove.”
When the reshuffle was over, a No. 10 insider remarked, “This cabinet brings the talents of the party together.”
Who’s in Sunak’s cabinet?
The stability in three of the top positions—Jeremy Hunt as chancellor, James Cleverly as foreign secretary, and Ben Wallace as defence secretary—is another noteworthy aspect of this reshuffle.
Suella Braverman’s reappointment as home secretary was one of the most controversial appointments made by Sunak.
Just a few days ago, she submitted her resignation from the position due to a security lapse caused by the sending of a government document to an unauthorised recipient.
She gave Sunak her endorsement as the party’s new leader two days ago, which was viewed as a major boost for his candidacy since it showed the right wing of the party was behind him.
Additionally, Sunak has reinstated several important allies in crucial positions, including Dominic Raab, Steve Barclay, and Oliver Dowden. They played a major part in his campaign all summer long and were rewarded for their loyalty with positions in the cabinet.
Moreover, Simon Hart has been appointed chief whip, who is in charge of party discipline and the welfare of MPs.
After months of intraparty struggle, this position will be crucial for preventing further conflicts and rebellions among Tory MPs and maintaining party discipline.
Nadhim Zahawi, who served as chancellor for a brief period during the summer, has been somewhat demoted from Cabinet Office minister to party chair — possibly in response to his inconsistent support in recent months.
He will still have a difficult task ahead of the municipal elections next year, and he will play a role in demonstrating that the party can reverse its electoral fortunes following a string of record-low opinion polls.
The two-time Tory candidate for the position of leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, will continue in that position. Michael Gove, who was abruptly fired by Boris Johnson in July, rejoined the Cabinet as the Levelling Up Secretary.
As part of the shuffle, Gillian Keegan became the fifth Education Secretary in just under four months.
Less than a week after Braverman’s resignation as home secretary, Grant Shapps was named business secretary. Shapps consistently supported Sunak in the two most recent leadership elections.
In addition to taking on the position of minister for women and equalities, Kemi Badenoch was appointed as the new secretary of international trade.
Therese Coffey, who had been appointed health secretary during Truss’s government reorganization, was downgraded to the position of environment minister under Sunak. In Westminster, Coffey was one of Truss’ closest pals.
Gavin Williamson has been given a position in the Cabinet Office as a minister of state without a specific portfolio, and he will go to Cabinet sessions.
The position of Minister of Veterans Affairs will be filled by Johnny Mercer once more.
Who’s out of Sunak’s cabinet?
Some prominent individuals who supported Sunak’s competitors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, have been approached, but others have been fired.
An ally of Boris Johnson, the previous party chairman, Jake Berry, is out, as is the former Levelling Up secretary, Simon Clarke, who was a major supporter of Liz Truss and her objectives.
As expected, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former Boris Johnson and Truss supporter who had previously called Sunak a “socialist,” resigned as the first to admit he would not be appointed to the new Cabinet.
After serving as the Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena was appointed Environment Secretary in September. He is now no longer in the cabinet.
Robert Buckland, the Secretary of State for Wales, was the first cabinet minister to support Liz Truss over Rishi Sunak during the previous leadership contest. He is no longer a member of the cabinet.
Johnson’s deputy, Kit Malthouse, who served under Johnson when he was mayor of London, announced his resignation as education secretary.
Simon Clarke, the Leveling Up secretary, was fired.
DWP Secretary Chloe Smith no longer holds that position despite having backed Sunak in the leadership race.
Wendy Morton has also disclosed that under Rishi Sunak’s new administration, she is no longer chief whip and will go back to the backbenches.
One of the longest-serving cabinet members, Brandon Lewis, also declared his return to the backbenches.
Vicky Ford also announced her resignation as the Foreign Office’s minister of state.
Alok Sharma will continue to serve as COP26 President but will no longer be a member of the Cabinet.
Result of the reshuffle
The resulting Cabinet includes key members from the party’s left, right, and center, resembling a coalition of the Tory party.
After years of disagreements over individuals and ideologies—from Brexit and Boris Johnson to tax cuts, immigration, and fracking—the (massive) goal is to bring the party together.
Regarding the reshuffle, Sunak tweeted, “This morning I set out to Cabinet the enormous task we face, and why I am confident that this government can rise to the challenge and deliver for the whole United Kingdom. Now is the time to get to work and earn the trust of the British people. “
The new prime minister will be tested on his capacity to put new policies into effect and make what are euphemistically referred to as “difficult decisions” on the economy, which may call for some budget cuts or tax rises.