Johnson demotes Raab and sacks three cabinet ministers in reshuffle

Liz Truss takes over at foreign office while Buckland, Jenrick and former education secretary Williamson are ousted

Boris Johnson has removed Dominic Raab as foreign secretary and sacked three cabinet ministers in a major reshuffle of his ministerial team.

Mr Raab, who has been replaced at the foreign office by former trade secretary Liz Truss, was demoted to justice secretary but given the title of deputy prime minister.

Mr Raab has been under pressure since he remained on holiday in Crete while the Taliban moved into the Afghan capital of Kabul. The announcement that he will be deputy prime minister followed a lengthy meeting with Mr Johnson in the prime minister’s House of Commons office on Wednesday afternoon.

“It has been a privilege to serve as foreign secretary, overseeing a merger of departments, publication of the Integrated Review and the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt. Global Britain is a force for good in the world served by the finest cadre of diplomats and development experts,” Mr Raab said.

Ms Truss, who opposed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, has been the public face of Britain’s new, bilateral trade deals with non-European countries and she is the most popular cabinet minister among Conservative members. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a former international development secretary, succeeds Ms Truss as trade secretary.

Mr Raab's move to the justice ministry pushed out Robert Buckland, who has been sacked from the cabinet along with education secretary Gavin Williamson and housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

Mr Williamson, a former chief whip who played a central role in Mr Johnson’s campaign for the Conservative leadership, has faced harsh criticism for his mishandling of examinations and other education issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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. I look forward to continuing to support the prime minister and the government,” Mr Williamson said.

Planning system

He is succeeded as education secretary by Nadim Zahawi, who has won praise for his role as vaccines minister during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Jenrick has been surrounded by controversy over links to developers and for his failure to win support among Conservatives for proposals to reform the planning system. Downing Street paid tribute to the three sacked ministers, stressing Mr Johnson’s gratitude to them for their loyalty and service.

His successor at the housing department, Michael Gove, will also be responsible for Mr Johnson's "levelling up" agenda and for relations between the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. Mr Gove is succeeded as cabinet office minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster by Stephen Barclay, a former Brexit minister.

Nadine Dorries, a successful novelist and a former contestant in the television show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, who is a long-standing supporter of Mr Johnson's, becomes culture secretary. Her predecessor Oliver Dowden becomes Conservative party chair, replacing Amanda Milling, who has been sacked.

The reshuffle left a number of high-profile ministers in place, with Rishi Sunak remaining chancellor of the exchequer and Priti Patel staying on as home secretary. Sajid Javid remains health secretary and Therese Coffey stays on at the department of work and pensions. Brandon Lewis remains Northern Ireland Secretary.

The reshuffle will continue on Thursday with the allocation of junior ministerial posts.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is London Editor of The Irish Times