British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demoted his Foreign Secretary on Wednesday in a major reshuffle, removing his most underrated colleagues to refocus the government on raising living standards after COVID-19.
After months of criticizing several of his top teams for missteps and blunders, Johnson has finally launched a process that some say he wanted to do several weeks earlier, to make the changes he feels he needs to pursue with his “upgrade” program.
Johnson has made tackling regional inequalities a priority, as part of an agenda set in 2019 when he won the Conservative Party’s largest parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher, but was overshadowed by the COVID pandemic -19.
“We know the public also wants us to stick to their priorities, and that’s why the Prime Minister wants to make sure we have the right team in place for this,” Johnson’s spokesperson told reporters.
A source in Johnson’s office said the British leader would appoint ministers “with a focus on the unity and leveling of the whole country”.
Raab, who has faced calls for resignation since vacationing in Crete as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital, Kabul, has lost one of the so-called major state functions in the ministry of Foreign Affairs to become Minister of Justice.
To soften the blow, Raab was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister, a role he played across the board when stepping in to lead the government when Johnson was fighting for his life in hospital with COVID Last year.
Liz Truss was promoted from Commerce to the Foreign Office, becoming the second woman to hold the post in Britain.
Michael Gove, seen as a key player in the Johnson government, has been moved to housing from his post in the government cabinet, a department at the center of government that drives the implementation of the policy.
Raab and Gove’s decisions followed the sacking of three others: Gavin Williamson as Minister of Education, Robert Buckland as Minister of Justice and Robert Jenrick as Minister of Housing.
Perhaps it was Buckland’s sacking that was the most surprising. Unlike the others, he hadn’t made any blunders or been criticized for his decision-making, but had to be moved to make room for Raab.
Jenrick had been criticized for his role in a billion pound development project proposed by a Conservative Party donor.
Rumors of a reshuffle, and which could be about to rise or exit, have been swirling for weeks.
Some in his party had suggested the threat of a reshuffle helped ensure Johnson’s plans for a tax hike to deal with a health and social services crisis won party support after being widely criticized to have the most injured the lowest incomes.
Critics accused Johnson of choosing Wednesday to eclipse the opposition Labor Party’s planned vote in parliament on the government’s decision to cut additional support for low-income families.
But some Conservative lawmakers have said it has simply been done for a long time. A lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the cabinet as a boat “appallingly encrusted with barnacles.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)