Dominic Raab ousted from Foreign Office as Boris Johnson wields axe in dramatic Cabinet reshuffle
The Prime Minister fired a string of high-profile ministers on Wednesday in the long-mooted reshuffle, with Gavin Williamson also axed as education secretary.
Robert Jenrick lost his job as housing secretary and Robert Buckland was sacked as justice secretary, but Priti Patel held onto her job as home secretary.
Michael Gove is the new housing secretary – and will also take on responsibility for overseeing the UK Government’s “levelling up” agenda, as well as preserving the Union. The role will be seen as a major promotion from his previous job at the Cabinet Office.
Mr Raab’s demotion comes after being heavily criticised for the Afghanistan debacle while foreign secretary, during which he went on holiday to Crete.
He has been given the title of Deputy Prime Minister and moved to the Ministry of Justice following extensive talks with the Prime Minister over being moved.
It is not the first time Mr Raab has taken up the position, having effectively led the government when Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital with coronavirus last year.
He said: “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.”
The long-awaited shake-up of the Prime Minister’s top team took place on Wednesday afternoon, with plans to put in place a “strong and united” Cabinet following the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Raab was replaced at the Foreign Office by the newly former international trade secretary Liz Truss.
A campaigner for Remain, Ms Truss will keep her post as minister for women's and equalities.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the former international development minister, has replaced Ms Truss as the new Secretary of State for international rade.
A Brexiteer, Ms Trevelyan was also a member of the European Research Group.
Mr Williamson was sacked after months of calls for his removal.
He had been one of the ministers deemed most at risk of being told to return to the backbenches, particularly due to his handling of the exams fiasco during the Covid-19 crisis.
Ousted first, Mr Williamson insisted he would continue to support the Prime Minister and the UK Government.
He said: “It has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019.
"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.”
He was replaced by vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.
A specific reason for Mr Buckland’s sacking as justice secretary was unclear.
In a letter to Mr Johnson posted on Twitter, the South Swindon MP said: “At our meeting earlier today, you asked for and accepted my resignation as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for justice.
“I am very sorry to be leaving the government, as it has been the honour of a lifetime to serve as a minister for over seven years; initially as solicitor general, then minister of state for prisons, and finally as Lord Chancellor and secretary of state for the last two years.”
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.
Mr Jenrick, who was replaced by Mr Gove, said of his own sacking: “Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved.
“I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the government in every way I can.”
The reshuffle also saw Tory party co-chair Amanda Milling forced out, just weeks before the Conservative conference.
Oliver Dowden was removed from DCMS, and made a Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office.
He was replaced by Nadine Dorries, who became Secretary of State for digital, culture, media and sport.
A strong supporter of Mr Johnson, Ms Dorries has published at least four novels based on her upbringing in 1960s Liverpool, selling more than 100,000 copies.
She also appeared as a contestant on I’m a Celebrity in 2012 without seeking permission from the party.
After confirmation Ms Patel would remain as home secretary, 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.”
Ms Patel had been widely tipped to lose her role and was accused of breaking the ministerial code again last week.
Sajid Javid said he was “very pleased” to stay in post as health secretary.
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.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack also survived the reshuffle, and Alok Sharma remains as COP26 president.
Therese Coffey kept her job as work and pensions secretary, as did Grant Shapps at transport.
Confirmation that a reshuffle was being carried out came as Mr Johnson led Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.
The SNP’s Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald has now accused Mr Johnson of letting failing ministers cling onto their jobs.
She said: "Boris Johnson's botched reshuffle shows this is a tired Tory government that is out of talent and out of touch.
"The Prime Minister is rewarding failure by clinging onto Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Michael Gove and a string of failed Tory ministers who wouldn't pass their probation in a normal workplace.
"It beggars belief that UK Government ministers can break the ministerial code, act unlawfully, jet off on holiday during a crisis, and fail to fulfil their basic duties – yet keep their place in the Tory Cabinet at the taxpayers' expense.
"It is especially bizarre that Michael Gove has been given responsibility for the Union, given polls show he is even less popular in Scotland than Boris Johnson – and will boost support for independence."
David Lammy MP, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, criticised the appointment of Mr Raab as justice secretary.
He said: “Appointing a failed foreign secretary who was fired for being missing in action to be the sixth justice secretary in six years shows how little this government cares about victims of crime.
“Under this government, the Crown Court backlog has reached a record-high, while the number of rape convictions are at a record-low.
“Victims need a justice secretary who is capable of fixing the courts crisis the government created, not one who has been open about his opposition to the fundamental rights and freedoms that the public depends on."
On Mr Williamson, Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green MP said: "Gavin Williamson has failed children and young people, their parents and our hard-working education staff throughout one of the most testing periods in our history.
"Two years of exams chaos and staff abandoned, unsupported and demoralised. That is Gavin Williamson's legacy.
"The Prime Minister has allowed this to happen, keeping a failing education secretary in post for months and refusing to fight for children's futures."
Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, called on Mr Zawahi to “commit to repairing the damage that has been done” by Mr Williamson.
She said: “Gavin Williamson will be remembered by university and college staff as a disastrous secretary of state who caused deep and lasting damage.
“From the mutant algorithm which attempted to hardwire inequalities into the exam system, to his negligent mismanagement of the pandemic leading to schools, universities and colleges becoming Covid incubators, Williamson’s long list of failures is shocking.”
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