The shine is already coming off Boris Johnson's brand new Cabinet - Conor Marlborough

After a surprise Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday afternoon, Boris Johnson set himself a hefty task, pledging to redouble his efforts to begin “uniting and levelling up the whole country”.

But the Prime Minister has done himself no favours in that endeavour with a series of questionable picks for his top team.

Leaving aside the fact 60 per cent of his ministers were privately educated, and almost half studied at Oxbridge, the previous conduct of several key figures alone should raise eyebrows.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

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Take Nadine Dorries, whose ascension to the head of the Department of Culture prompted one Tory MP to quip privately that “irony isn’t dead yet”.

Ms Dorries has previously called the BBC, for which she is now responsible, a “hypocritical” and “patronising” “left-wing organisation”. At least she’s going into the job with an open mind.

Mr Johnson did succeed in removing one particularly prickly thorn in his side – namely Gavin Williamson, who was eulogised by opposition figures as a “disastrous” education secretary.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick was out too, after he was forced to withdraw his own approval for a dodgy deal with Conservative Party donor Richard Desmond, conceding it was “unlawful” and due to “apparent bias”.

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Boxing enthusiast Dominic Raab, on the other hand, may be down, but is certainly not out.

After his calamitous handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr Johnson now thinks Mr Raab can rise to the task of resuscitating a justice system on the brink of collapse.

But Mr Raab’s dual role as Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister raises serious questions. How can he realistically defend the independence of the judiciary from himself?

Meanwhile, newly-appointed foreign secretary Liz Truss, who has already gone to war with her predecessor over the shared use of a 115-bed grace-and-favour residence, has left an array of unfinished business on her desk at the Department for International Trade.

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The UK is still caught in the grip of Covid-19 with winter approaching, and a host of increasingly urgent domestic issues are crammed into ministerial red boxes.

You can call me cynical, but the class of ‘21 has very little time, and a great deal to prove.

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