Boris Johnson was carrying out a long-awaited shake-up of his top team on Wednesday afternoon, with plans to put in place a “strong and united” Cabinet following the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Number 10 source confirmed on Wednesday that the reshuffle would begin shortly after Prime Minister’s Questions concluded, with speculation among MPs and advisers reaching fever pitch.
“The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic,” the source said.
It will place a priority on “uniting and levelling up the whole country”.
Downing Street has confirmed that Robert Buckland, Robert Jenrick and Gavin Williamson have left Government and returned to the back benches.
Dominic Raab has been demoted to Justice Secretary and Liz Truss, former trade secretary, has taken over from Mr Raab as Foreign Secretary.
Priti Patel remains in her post as Home Secretary and Michael Gove has been appointed as the new Housing Secretary.
Who is out?
Downing Street confirmed Dominic Raab’s demotion from foreign secretary to Justice Secretary.
The former foreign secretary was widely tipped to be demoted from what is one of the four great offices of state because of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis, including the thousands of former Afghan staff feared to have been left behind after the Taliban takeover.
He was on holiday in Crete as the Taliban swept across the country and was seen relaxing on a beach on the Greek island as members of the militant group entered Kabul, although he insisted he was in touch with officials and ministerial colleagues.
Boris Johnson’s decision to move the Esher and Walton MP to the Ministry of Justice from the Foreign Office marks a setback in Mr Raab’s ambitions.
However, the former foreign secretary said he was “delighted” to become Justice Secretary after being demoted from the Foreign Office.
He tweeted: “I am delighted to be appointed Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister, delivering on the PM’s commitment to cut crime, reduce reoffending and protect the public.”
Gavin Williamson was the first to leave Mr Johnson’s Cabinet from his post as Education Secretary.
He said it “has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary” and that he “looks forward to continuing to support the Prime Minister and the Government”.
He added: “Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.
“This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government.”
Mr Williamson has served as the Education Secretary since 2019.
Mr Williamson’s performance in the education brief had left him vulnerable after widespread criticism over his handling of his departmental responsibilities during the Covid-19 crisis.
He was one of the ministers deemed most at risk of being told to return to the backbenches, particularly due to the GCSE and A-level results fiasco amid cancelled exams.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Gavin Williamson has played a key role in transforming the skills agenda as we create a high wage and high-skilled economy, providing a lifetime skills guarantee for millions across the country.
“The Prime Minister is grateful for his loyalty and service.”
Robert Buckland has said it is “on to the next adventure” after being sacked as Justice Secretary during Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.
He tweeted: “It has been an honour to serve in Government for the last 7 years, and as the Lord Chancellor for the last 2.
“I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure.”
The courts system has been under huge strain during the pandemic, but a specific reason for his departure was unclear.
The Conservative MP said his time as justice secretary was “particularly challenging owing to the Covid pandemic” but said he was “particularly proud” that Britain was “one of the first countries to restart jury trials” following the coronavirus shutdown.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Robert Buckland has made a huge contribution to government as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, including making our streets safer through significant reforms to sentencing and tackling reoffending.
“The Prime Minister is grateful for his hard work and dedication.”
Sir Bob Neill, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, criticised Mr Buckland’s exit, saying: “You deserved better.”
“You did a first-rate job and, importantly, always stood up for the rule of law and the integrity of the justice system,” Sir Bob added.
Robert Jenrick said it had been a “huge privilege” to serve as Housing Secretary as he confirmed his exit, saying he will “continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can”.
He added: “Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved.”
His sacking from Mr Johnson’s top team followed controversies including the unlawful approval of a Tory donor’s housing development and his eyebrow-raising journeys during lockdown.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Robert Jenrick has led crucial work over the last two years, most importantly driving reforms to build more houses so home ownership becomes a reality for many more people.
“The Prime Minister is grateful for his drive and commitment.”
Amanda Milling has been sacked as Conservative Party co-chair.
“It’s been a privilege and an honour to be the co-chairman of the Conservative Party,” she said.
“Thank you to the voluntary party and the team at CCHQ for their support.”
She thanked Boris Johnson for the opportunity, adding “I will continue working to deliver on our plans to level up the UK”.
Who is in?
A No 10 source confirmed that Liz Truss, former trade secretary, has been appointed the new Foreign Secretary after Dominic Raab was demoted.
She also remains minister for women and equalities.
Ms Truss has been rewarded after being seen to have made a success of her international trade secretary post.
While the Government faced tough headlines about deadlock in the negotiations with the European Union during the Brexit transition period, the South West Norfolk MP made steady work of rolling over a host of trade deals for the UK.
A much-coveted trade deal with the US might have eluded her, but the 46-year-old won plaudits in the Conservative Party for securing new terms with Japan and Australia, while a New Zealand agreement is said to be nearing completion.
Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed as the new Education Secretary, No 10 has said.
The former vaccines minister had been widely tipped for a promotion following his successful handling of Britain’s vaccination programme.
The former Cabinet Office minister has been appointed as the new Housing Secretary.
Downing Street said he would also retain responsibility for the Union, another major role with Nicola Sturgeon fighting for Scottish independence.
Mr Gove will also take on responsibility for Boris Johnson’s flagship “levelling up” agenda.
Steve Barclay has been appointed to replace Mr Gove as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office minister.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been promoted to International Trade Secretary, replacing Liz Truss, who has become the Foreign Secretary.
The minister has sat at Cabinet before, as she was previously the international development secretary but lost her job when her department was merged with the Foreign Office.
Former culture secretary Oliver Dowden appears to be moving to CCHQ, where he will take the reins as party chairman, replacing Amanda Milling.
He is also being made a minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office.
The Culture Secretary role has been taken by Nadine Dorries.
Nadine Dorries said she is “very” happy with her new role as Culture Secretary as she left Number 10.
When asked if she was happy with the job, the former health minister and star of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here replied: “Very.”
The 64-year-old’s brief foray into reality television and her rather more successful side-hustle as a best-selling author will demonstrate some real experience within the entertainment business.
However, previous comments on the arts might alarm those within the industry, particularly her 2017 lament at what she perceived as the impact of “left-wing snowflakes” on culture.
She wrote: “Left wing snowflakes are killing comedy, tearing down historic statues, removing books from universities, dumbing down panto, removing Christ from Christmas and suppressing free speech.
“Sadly, it must be true, history does repeat itself. It will be music next.”
Who’s staying put?
Priti Patel has said it is “a huge privilege” to remain at the Home Office amid Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.
“A huge privilege to continue serving as Home Secretary under our Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” she tweeted.
“There is still so much more to do to deliver for the British people. Tackling illegal migration, cutting crime and continuing to keep our great country safe.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid will remain in post, No 10 has confirmed.
Mr Javid was promoted to the role in June following Matt Hancock quitting the Cabinet after confirming he had broken coronavirus rules in his relations with an aide.
He said he was “very pleased” to stay in post as Health Secretary.
After the confirmation that he had kept his job in Boris Johnson’s ministerial shake-up, Mr Javid tweeted: “Very pleased to see the job through at the Department of Health and Social Care – my toughest yet.
“I’m absolutely determined to get our country through the pandemic, tackle the backlogs and deliver lasting reforms to health and social care.”
There will be no change at the top of the Department for Transport, Downing Street said, with Grant Shapps continuing in his post as Transport Secretary.
Mr Shapps said “of course” he is pleased to remain as Transport Secretary as he left No 10.
Ben Wallace will remain in his post as Defence Secretary, No 10 has said.
Kwasi Kwarteng said he will be continuing as Business Secretary following Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.
Cabinet-level changes have taken place today, but the shake-up of more junior ministerial ranks will continue on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson understands “the importance of having a diverse Cabinet”, and with Liz Truss taking over at the Foreign Office and with Priti Patel remaining at the Home Office, two of the great offices of state are now held by women.