UK Cabinet Reshuffle: Javid Goes as BoJo Flexes His Muscles

Houses of Parliament

Image Credit: By Adrian Pingstone (talk · contribs) (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The first major Cabinet reshuffle after an election is always an interesting one to watch.

This is the opportunity that the new Prime Minister has to surround themselves with people who will act as political allies – or, at least, fake grinned sycophants – during their first few months and years in power.

Conversely, it’s a chance to get rid of anyone who might be considered a nuisance or a liability in the Commons.

Boris Johnson has wielded the axe, making a number of high-profile changes to the team around him as he heads into his first year as an elected prime minister. “We have to repay the trust of people who voted for us in huge numbers in December and who look forward to us delivering,” he said.

The primary changes has been the resignation of Sajid Javid, whose position had looked safe in the PM’s Cabinet. The former Chancellor alleged that Johnson ordered him to sack his team of advisors, which Javid was having none of. He tendered his resignation on February 13.

What other changes have been made to the collection of politicians that will lead us for the next four years?

OUT: Sajid Javid/IN: Rishi Sunak

The Chancellor had been busy preparing his first Budget, which is due in March, and so the timing of his departure is rather eyebrow-raising.

But Javid claimed he had ‘no option’ but to resign based upon the demands that BoJo had made of him, claiming that ‘no self-respecting minister’ would have done as asked.

An intriguing sub-plot revolved around the rather volumous Dominic Cummins, the PM’s senior advisor who is making a name for himself as an, erm, ‘outspoken’ and regularly divisive member of staff. The rumours suggest that Javid and Cummins were not exactly bosom buddies.

Stepping into the role of the Prime Minister’s Excel spreadsheet expert is Rishi Sunak, who is a favoured son of the Tory Party having stepped in for Johnson during the election debate on the BBC.

A former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he has the pedigree and the backing to become a key ally at 10 Downing Street.

OUT: Andrea Leadsom/IN: Alok Sharma

It’s worth remembering that Andrea Leadsom stood against Boris during the Conservative leadership battle of 2019.

So is it any surprise she has been ousted as business secretary? Nope, not really.

Alok Sharma is a former International Development Secretary who was appointed to the Cabinet in the summer of 2019, and he will have a lot on his plate in the lead-up to, and aftermath of, Brexit.

OUT: Nicky Morgan/ IN: Oliver Dowden

Long pinpointed as a key Cabinet figure, Oliver Dowden has climbed the ranks to replace Nicky Morgan as Culture Secretary.

He has been a member of the Cabinet Office since Johnson took the Tory mantle, providing key assistance in developing and implementing governmental policy.

A CBE already for his services to politics, Dowden has done well to cover up his past as an advisor to David Cameron, and as a keen advocate of Green Belt land the hope is that he can persuade Boris to regulate the sale of parkland to property developers.

Nicky Morgan, his predecessor, had announced her plan to step away from frontline politics last year, and did not stand in the 2019 General Election.

OUT: Julian Smith/IN: Brandon Lewis

Key to the Brexit debacle was the governance of Northern Ireland, and now Brandon Lewis has the job of trying to instill harmony as part of the EU withdrawal bill.

He is a former Conservative Party Chairman who has been part of the home office since the summer.

Lewis is the MP for Great Yarmouth, but he will find out that life as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is far from a beach.

He replaces Julian Smith, who confessed he was looking forward to having more time to do ‘normal things’, like going to the pub.

OUT: Esther McVey

Another who battled BoJo for supremacy in the leadership race was Esther McVey.

And guess what? She’s been given the boot too.

To be fair, she was appointed back to the Cabinet by Boris after he had won the right to lead the Tories, although she was given the rather anonymous role of ‘Minister of State for Housing and Planning’.

But she’s lasted well under a year, perhaps not aided by the number of gaffes she has made in recent times including falsely suggesting that Great Britain would have to use the Euro if we were to remain in the EU.