Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in, who’s out

By Sophie Boulter, World News Editor

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffled his Cabinet, most notably demoting Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in favor of International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. Johnson also promoted controversial celebrity and politician Nadine Dorries to culture secretary and sacked Gavin Williamson, the embattled education secretary.

Raab was demoted from foreign secretary to justice secretary over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis. Johnson was reportedly unhappy with Raab’s choice to continue his vacation in Crete instead of returning to the U.K. to help strategize with the Foreign Office as the situation in Kabul deteriorated.

“With hindsight, of course, I would have wanted to be back earlier,” Raab said about his vacation. 

As consolation for his demotion from the Foreign Office, Raab will be made deputy prime minister, a largely ceremonial role that has been unfilled since Liberal Democrat Tim Clegg’s stint in the role in 2010. Clegg served in a coalition government with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

Photo courtesy of
Johnson and Raab, who are personally close, are said to have fallen out over Raab’s demotion. Johnson still gave Raab the position of deputy PM.

Truss received the highest promotion from the reshuffle. She is the second-ever female foreign secretary in U.K. history and the first female foreign secretary from the Conservative Party. 

“I’m delighted to be appointed foreign secretary to promote a positive outward vision of global Britain, which is going to deliver for people right across the U.K.,” Truss said.

The foreign secretary manages U.K. foreign policy, national security and foreign aid. The position of foreign secretary — along with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who oversees U.K. fiscal policy, and the home secretary, who manages immigration and law and order — is considered to be one of the Great Offices of State in the U.K.

The Great Offices of State are the most powerful positions in the Cabinet. Traditionally, one of these ministers will become acting prime minister if the current prime minister dies or becomes incapacitated.

As international trade secretary, Truss secured post-Brexit trade deals for the U.K. with Australia and Japan. Among Conservative Party members, she has the highest approval rating of any member of the Cabinet.

Ann-Marie Trevelyan, formerly the Secretary for International Development, succeeds Truss as international trade secretary. 

Johnson promoted Dorries to culture secretary in the reshuffle. Dorries is best known for appearing on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, a show on British television channel ITV. 

Dorries is a controversial figure in the conservative Tory Party and beyond. In 2012, she criticized Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne for being out of touch. 

“Cameron and Osborne (are) two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk,” she said.

Dorries and Truss are personally close with Johnson, benefitting from a reshuffle which rewarded Johnson loyalists and effective ministers while punishing ineffectual ministers, such as Williamson.

Williamson, the gaffe-prone education secretary, was sacked in the reshuffle. 

In 2018, Williamson gave a question-and-answer session after a speech in Bristol. When pressed on U.K. policy towards Russia after the Salisbury nerve agent attack, Williamson criticized Russian actions by stating, “Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up.”

Two years later, Williamson attempted to create an alternative grading system for students during the COVID-19 crisis. The system he created was largely judged to be rife with errors, and he scrapped it 48 hours after student results came in.

Xavier Professor of Political Science Dr. Timothy White argued that Johnson reshuffled his cabinet in an attempt to shore up support ahead of the next U.K. election.

“Johnson seems interested in gaining as much support as policy, so he can call an early election and win,” White said.