Sunak’s reshuffle: refresh or rewind?

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It’s reshuffle day in Westminster. Suella Braverman is out as Home Secretary, replaced by James Cleverly, with former prime minister David Cameron making a shock return to parliament in the vacant Foreign Secretary slot. It’s the first time since 1974 that a former PM has been appointed to the cabinet. Can Rishi Sunak really still claim to be the candidate to end the ‘thirty year status quo’? Will he regret bringing Cameron back? James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and Fraser Nelson.  Produced by Oscar Edmondson. 

Does the public want reheated Blairism?

To understand the political journey of Sir Keir Starmer, look to Liz Kendall. This week the Blairite and one-time leadership contender was put in charge of Labour’s welfare reform policy. Her promotion has upset the party’s left-wingers, who already think Starmer is too right-wing on welfare. ‘She’ll be more hard-line than Jonathan Ashworth,’ says one shadow minister in reference to her predecessor. But her real influence started well before she was given a place at Starmer’s shadow cabinet table. Even those who were demoted or axed put on a brave face: ‘It shows Labour senses it is about to win’  Kendall’s role in the 2015 contest was to speak hard

Katy Balls

Is Boris weaponising reshuffle rumours?

Parliament is back today and the Prime Minister is facing an autumn filled with problems. Boris Johnson had hoped to use the last week before the summer recess to reset his premiership by announcing reforms to social care, more money for the NHS and potentially reshuffling his top team. Instead, he found himself in self-isolation after coming into contact with Sajid Javid, who had tested positive for Covid. Now there are plans afoot to use the first week back to return to unfinished business. Once again there are rumours of a reshuffle — while Johnson is expected to finally unveil his social care plans on Tuesday. They too are not without

Starmer’s attention-grabbing shadow cabinet reshuffle

Keir Starmer has a new front bench. He has conducted his second reshuffle in the space of a year, but this time he’s actually managed to get the changes he was after.  A key theme of this reshuffle has been giving Labour a better chance of being heard. Many of the departures today have involved figures who were underperforming in key roles: Nick Thomas-Symonds, for instance, was very well-liked in the party but struggling to get much purchase even against Priti Patel’s growing political mess on human trafficking in the Channel. He has now been replaced by Yvette Cooper, who has done this brief before and who has grown even

Now I’m a backbencher, I’m free to speak my mind

Politicians are supposed to have a survival instinct. Mine didn’t kick in last week, so I had no idea that my evidence session to a House of Lords committee on Wednesday would be my swan song. I was speaking about the work of the Ministry of Justice, where I had been lord chancellor for two years. The work, I said, is more than a series of desiccated processes. It is, and should always be, rooted in the rule of law, fairness and equality. With that off my chest, I rushed to Prime Minister’s Questions. In the middle of it, I received a text message saying that the Prime Minister wished

Does Liz Truss have what it takes to be Foreign Secretary?

In the dying days of Theresa May’s benighted premiership I spotted a long-serving Tory MP on the same weekend train as me, a few rows down. This old whips office hand had naturally bagged a table of four for himself and spread out documents and newspapers across it to deter all-comers. But he seemed most focused on a smaller piece of writing paper on which he periodically scrawled a note. After a few minutes he got up and headed to the buffet car so I did what most of those trained in my trade would have done in the circumstances and sauntered past his vacated table to take a sneaky

Boris Johnson’s government shake-up continues

After a rather quiet day, the reshuffle is back on, and Boris Johnson is proving to be even more brutal with the more junior ministerial jobs than he was in his clear out of the cabinet. So far, the following have left government: Jesse Norman Caroline Dinenage Luke Hall Graham Stuart James Duddridge Matt Warman John Whittingdale Nick Gibb And these are the moves and promotions within government:Treasury Lucy Frazer is financial secretary, moving from Justice. Helen Whately is exchequer secretary, moving from Health and Social Care. Home Office Rachel Maclean has been made a parliamentary under sectary at the Home Office, having been moved from Transport. Education Robin Walker

Katy Balls

The aim of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle

What was the purpose of Boris Johnson’s third reshuffle since becoming Prime Minister? His first reshuffle on entering 10 Downing Street back in the summer of 2019 was all about sending a message over Brexit. The one in February 2020, after Johnson won a majority of 80 in the December snap election, was aimed at getting his new look government in place. This week’s was about reform. The new foreign secretary Liz Truss is the big winner from the reshuffle The headlines over the reshuffle have largely focussed on who is in and who is out – of which there is plenty to digest. The shake up of Johnson’s front

No, Gavin Williamson wasn’t the worst education secretary ever

Gavin Williamson was the worst education secretary in history, according to Sam Freedman, a former Tory education adviser. In the wake of Williamson’s departure from the Department for Education, many other commentators are being even less generous. No one has a good word to say about the man. No one except me, that is. I write here in defence of Gavin Williamson. To be utterly clear, my defence is a very narrow one. I am speaking up for Williamson over only a portion of what he did as Education Secretary, and not the largest part either. While a lot of things Gavin Williamson did were indeed dismal, not everything he did was

Johnson’s reshuffle rumours won’t go away

When Boris Johnson was asked at this week’s Covid press conference whether he could rule out an imminent cabinet reshuffle, he didn’t give anything away. The Prime Minister joked that it was a question for the chief medical officer before avoiding offering an answer himself. While Johnson may take the view that the focus on a reshuffle was a distraction from his Covid winter plan announcement, it’s also the case that the constant rumours are starting to become a serious distraction for ministers, aides and civil servants.  Given the decision to hold a reshuffle is down to one person, predicting the timings of any such shake-up is a fool’s game. But there is once again feverish speculation that a reshuffle could

What will the next reshuffle look like?

Following reports over the weekend that Boris Johnson has threatened to demote Rishi Sunak to health secretary, Downing Street has today sought to downplay reports of a rift between the pair. After business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng used the morning media round to praise the Chancellor’s work, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson has insisted that Johnson has full confidence in Sunak. While it’s clear both sides are keen to kill reports of tension, they are unlikely to have their wish granted. What’s more, the comments have brought back speculation over a potential reshuffle.  As a general rule, all cabinet reshuffle speculation ought to be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. The Prime Minister has proved

Boris Johnson’s growing backbench problem

When will Boris Johnson reshuffle his Cabinet? It’s a question that’s asked every couple of weeks in Westminster with frequent briefings about who is up (Liz Truss, if recent ConservativeHome polls are anything to go by) and who is down (Gavin Williamson is the most recent minister to be tipped for the axe). Yet despite the talk, so far the Prime Minister has proven reluctant to refresh his top team. A hint of why can be found in the events of this week. A series of Tory rebellions are bubbling up. As Johnson considers whether to green-light the June 21 unlocking, members of the Covid Recovery Group are once again

Full list: Keir Starmer’s new Shadow Cabinet

Keir Starmer, the newly elected leader of the Labour party, has taken no prisoners with his cabinet reshuffle. Corbyn allies like Richard Burgon are out, and Ed Miliband is back. Here is the full make-up of Starmer’s top team: Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Anneliese DoddsFormerly: John McDonnell An Oxford PPE graduate, Dodds is a long time supporter of Starmer’s leadership campaign. She has served as a shadow Treasury minister since July 2017. She had even been tipped for promotion by the former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell in early March, as he said he was ‘hoping she gets a significant role in the new administration’. Dodds is the first woman to be

What the reshuffle means

As the dust settles, it is clear that the big story of the reshuffle is that Boris Johnson has created the most powerful central government operation in living memory. He has yoked together Number 10, the Treasury and the Cabinet Office. As I say in the Sun this morning, no department or agency will be able to resist the power of this new centre. The rationale behind this move is simple. Boris Johnson’s view is what is the point of being in power if you are not actually in charge. He wants to bring an emphatic end to a decade of weak government. He believes that this new set up

Katy Balls

What will Rishi Sunak do as Chancellor?

Boris Johnson ends the week with a new Chancellor in tow after Rishi Sunak replaced Sajid Javid in the role. Prior to the reshuffle, Sunak had expected to remain Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Although the Tory rising star had been tipped at one point to be given his own department to run, he had privately made it known that he wanted to stay put and help the Chancellor with next month’s Budget. Sunak got his wish in part. He is staying in the Treasury. It’s just that he is now the one in charge. So, what does Sunak’s appointment mean for the direction of this government? As I say