Politics

Sunak appointing new cabinet – here’s who is in and out

Rishi Sunak is appointing his cabinet after being asked by the King to form a new government.

The new prime minister has promised to form a government of “all the talents” amid calls from senior Tories to appoint the best ministers available – rather than focusing on those who are loyal to him, as his two predecessors had done.

New PM – latest from Downing Street

Here’s who is in and out of Mr Sunak’s new government:

Who’s in so far?

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is keeping his job as chancellor, having reversed the majority of Liz Truss’s mini-budget Mr Sunak warned would be detrimental to the economy just over a week ago.

Seen as a steady hand, keeping Mr Hunt could be an attempt to reassure the markets.

Mr Hunt is due to lay out plans for balancing the books with a fiscal statement on 31 October.

His appointment could also be seen as political, as Mr Hunt had backed Mr Sunak in the last two leadership races.

James Cleverly foreign secretary

James Cleverly has been reappointed to foreign secretary.

He is the first Liz Truss backer to stay in post under the new prime minister, in what could be seen as a show of unity following months of divisive politics within the Conservative Party.

After Ms Truss resigned, Mr Cleverly initially came out in support of Boris Johnson’s return to the top job.

But after the ex-PM gave up on his comeback, Mr Cleverly voiced support for Mr Sunak, saying he was the most experienced candidate for the job.

Ben Wallace

Although he backed Boris Johnson’s leadership bid, Ben Wallace has also kept his job as defence secretary.

He is one of the few cabinet secretaries to keep their job during both Mr Johnson and Ms Truss’s premierships – and now Mr Sunak.

It was not a given Mr Wallace would accept the job as Mr Sunak has not publicly committed to spending 3% of GDP on defence by 2030.

Mr Wallace had said that was a red line for him and would quit if that pledge by Liz Truss was not kept to.

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman is back as home secretary – less than a week she quit for breaching the ministerial code by sending classified documents from her personal email.

Her shock resignation came the day before Ms Truss followed her out of the door, and in an explosive letter to the former PM, she expressed “concerns about the direction of this government”, including its commitment to reducing immigration.

Ms Braverman has taken a tough stance on small boat crossings, and previously said it was her “dream” to see the Rwanda deportation flights take off.

From the right wing of the party, the former attorney general was not a natural Rishi Sunak supporter, announcing her backing of him late on Sunday.

Her appointment will be seen as trying to keep all wings of the party onboard, while showing Mr Sunak’s intention to take a hard line on immigration.

However, it could raise eyebrows given the nature of her resignation and past controversial comments.

One of Ms Braverman’s most notable speeches during her short time as home secretary under Ms Truss was when she blamed protest disruption on the “tofu-eating wokerati”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has criticised the appointment, accusing the Mr Sunak of putting “party before country”.

“Security is too important for this irresponsible Tory chaos,” she tweeted.

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt, Mr Sunak’s two-time leadership rival, will be keeping her job as Commons Leader.

She had hoped to become prime minister, but was forced to bow out of the race at the last minute on Monday after failing to get the backing of enough MPs, leaving Mr Sunak as the only person left to be PM.

Sources close to her told Sky News last night she was hoping to be appointed as foreign secretary – so her appointment today may come as a blow.

The main role of a Commons Leader is to organise government business in the House of Commons.

Sky News Chief political correspondent Jon Craig says she didn’t look too happy with the “graveyard slot in the Commons” when leaving Number 10.

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab has been appointed deputy PM and justice secretary,

The loyal supporter of Mr Sunak has been handed his old jobs back, having held these roles for under Boris Johnson.

When the former prime minister was in hospital with COVID it was Mr Raab who took on the running of the country.

However, he was demoted from foreign secretary to justice secretary last September following criticism of his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

During the leadership race to replace Mr Johnson, Mr Raab had called Ms Truss’s tax plans “electoral suicide” – so it was no surprise when he returned to the backbenches during her brief premiership.

Now that he has returned to his former post, one of the most pressing challenges he faces is reducing backlogs in the courts.

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps, who was drafted in to replace Ms Braverman as home secretary just six days ago, has been appointed as business and energy secretary.

The Rishi Sunak ally has a wealth of experience in cabinet, having served as transport secretary under Boris Johnson.

Michael Gove

Meanwhile, Michael Gove has been reappointed to his old job as levelling up secretary – three months after being sacked by Boris Johnson.

Mr Gove was one of the first cabinet ministers to wield the knife as support around Mr Johnson crumbled back in July.

His comeback could be a tactical move by Mr Sunak, as Mr Gove has not been shy in criticising the government from the backbenches.

Steve Barclay

Steve Barclay has been appointed health secretary – taking over the position from Therese Coffey.

The former Brexit Secretary under Theresa May served as health secretary briefly over the summer in Boris Johnson’s interim cabinet.

Therese Coffey

Therese Coffey, a close friend and ally of Liz Truss who was deputy prime minister until today, has been appointed environment secretary under Rishi Sunak.

She had also held the position of health secretary – which has now been handed to Steve Barclay.

Gillian Keegan

Gillian Keegan is Secretary of State for Education.

She is the fifth person to hold this role in just over a year – following the sacking of Gavin Williamson last September.

He was replaced by Nadhim Zahawi, and then Michelle Donelan, who quit after just 36 hours in the role during the mass exodus from Boris Johnson’s’ government.

She was replaced by James Cleverly, now foreign secretary, and Kit Malthouse, who left his government role earlier today.

A former junior minister in the education department, this is Ms Keegan’s first cabinet position.

Under Mr Johnson, Ms Keegan was the parliamentary under-secretary for apprenticeships and skills. She was then care and mental health minister in the health department and Liz Truss made her parliamentary under-secretary for Africa.

Kemi Badenoch

Kemi Badenoch, a former leadership candidate, has been reappointed as international trade secretary.

She is also minister for women and equalities under Rishi Sunak.

Ms Badenoch, the MP for Saffron Walden, was first handed the cabinet post by Liz Truss.

Simon Hart

Simon Hart has been appointed chief whip.

A popular MP across the party and former Welsh secretary, he is a good communicator so a natural for the job.

The chief whip is in charge of party discipline, telling Tory MPs how they should vote in certain votes.

Mel Stride

Mel Stride has been promoted into the cabinet as work and pensions secretary from his role as an influential backbencher chairing the Treasury select committee.

It is perhaps unsurprising after running Rishi Sunak’s campaign in the Tory leadership contest over the summer.

Mr Stride was instrumental in calling for an OBR forecast to go alongside Ms Truss’ spending plans after the turmoil caused by her mini-budget, and has loudly called for benefits to rise in line with inflation.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed Conservative Party chairman.

Mr Zahawi was chancellor for a short period under Boris Johnson after Mr Sunak resigned – and famously called on the ex-PM to quit days after accepting the top cabinet job.

He also served as a vaccines minister and education secretary under Mr Johnson, and he was the made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Ms Truss.

His appointment as chairman may come as a surprise, as he had backed Mr Johnson to return as prime minister during the last leadership race just weeks after calling for him to go.

After Mr Johnson withdrew from the race, he voiced support for Mr Sunak.

His new role will see him attend cabinet meetings but he will not have a department.

Michelle Donelan

A loyal Sunak supporter, Michelle Donelan has kept her job as secretary for digital, culture, media and sport.

The Chippenham MP was given the job by Liz Truss after taking over from Nadine Dorries, who Boris Johnson appointed.

She has previously signalled she could U-turn on Ms Dorries’ controversial plans to privatise Channel 4, saying the case was being “re-examined”.

Ms Donelan, who became an MP when Mr Sunak did in 2015, was previously education secretary for just two days under Boris Johnson.

He appointed her after a wave of cabinet resignations in July but she quit as, she said, Mr Johnson had “put us in an impossible position”.

Before that short tenure, she was a government whip, parliamentary under-secretary for children then universities minister before becoming minister for higher and further education, where she attended cabinet.

Chris Heaton Harris

Chris Heaton-Harris has been reappointed as Northern Ireland secretary under Rishi Sunak.

He was first appointed to this role by Liz Truss at the start of September.

He arguably has one of the most difficult portfolios, given the collapsed executive in Northern Ireland – where another election could soon be triggered – and disputes with the EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Alister Jack

Alister Jack is keeping his job as Scotland secretary – a post he has held since July 2019.

David TC Davies

David TC Davies, the Wales minister since 2019, has been promoted to Wales Secretary, taking over from Robert Buckland who resigned as Rishi Sunak took office this morning

Mr Davies, the MP for Monmouth since 2005, is well suited to his new role having chaired the Welsh Affairs Committee from 2010 to 2019.

Oliver Dowden

Rishi Sunak’s closest political friend Oliver Dowden has been given the important role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

He will be Mr Sunak’s ears and eyes in the Cabinet Office, which supports the PM and the cabinet, and ensures the effective running of government.

Earlier this year he resigned as party chairman after a disastrous double by-election loss under Mr Johnson.

Former whip Mark Harper’s support has been rewarded with the role of transport secretary.

He replaces Anne-Marie Trevelyan who backed Mr Johnson in the race a few days ago before the former PM announced he would not be standing.

Another of Mr Sunak’s allies, John Glen, becomes chief secretary to the Treasury.

Work and pensions minister Victoria Prentis takes up the role of Attorney General, while former home office minister Jeremy Quin becomes Paymaster General.

Tom Tugendhat has been re-appointed as security minister and Johnny Mercer will return to the role of veterans’ affairs minister.

Meanwhile, Sir Gavin Williamson returns to government as a minister without portfolio.

Sir Gavin was kicked out of government in 2019 when serving as defence secretary over a National Security Council leak and was sacked as education secretary in 2021 for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on schools.

Another to return to the top table is former housing secretary Robert Jenrick who becomes minister for immigration and will attend cabinet.

Who’s left:

Ahead of Mr Sunak announcing his key posts, a number of Liz Truss’s cabinet have already announced they are leaving government.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg kicked off the resignations on Tuesday, leaving his post as business secretary.

A close ally of both Boris Johnson and Ms Truss, he had earlier said he was not expecting to serve in Mr Sunak’s cabinet.

Mr Rees-Mogg famously called Mr Sunak a “socialist” during this summer’s Conservative Party leadership race because he refused to commit to the same level of tax cuts as Ms Truss – though today he backed down on those comments.

In his resignation letter, he wished Mr Sunak “every success” but added: “It is time to go.

“In the interests of the nation, the Conservative Party must unite under your leadership and I shall do all I can to support you.”

Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis, has also resigned as justice secretary, saying Mr Sunak has his “support from the backbenches”.

“Our party is at a crossroads,” Mr Lewis said in his resignation letter to the prime minister, adding that it is time to “reunite and rebuild”.

Robert Buckland

Robert Buckland is out as Welsh secretary, writing on Twitter that he was leaving “at my request”.

Mr Buckland initially supported Mr Sunak in the summer, but swapped to back Ms Truss.

Jake Berry

Jake Berry said it was an “honour” to serve as Conservative Party chairman but “all good things must come to an end”.

The Truss-backing MP for Rossendale and Darwen said he will “relish” his chance to serve his constituents again.

Kit Malthouse

Kit Malthouse, the fourth education secretary this year, tweeted: “As I leave the DfE, I do so with profound gratitude to officials, my private office team, and brilliant advisers, who all worked so hard.

“I hope my successor can harness their commitment to the most important mission in Whitehall: the future and welfare of our children.”

Chloe Smith

Chole Smith is also out as secretary of state for work and pensions. She was a big ally of Ms Truss, and had been reviewing whether to uprate benefits in line with inflation.

Ranil Jayawardena

Ranil Jayawardena is also out as environment secretary.

He wrote to Rishi Sunak: “I know that you wish for a new team to join you in HM government, so I write to stand aside.”

He added that he is “sure that HM government will continue to deliver, and you will have my support in doing so”.

Simon Clarke

Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke has also left his role.

He said it was a “great privilege” to serve in the department, as well as in his previous role as chief secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Clarke was one of Liz Truss’s most vocal supporters during the summer.

He tweeted: “My loyalty to @trussliz and @BorisJohnson was sincere to the last and I appreciate deeply the opportunity they gave me. But I meant every word that I said yesterday: @Conservatives must unite under our new PM and should all work to ensure @RishiSunak succeeds. He has my support.”

Wendy Morton

Chief Whip Wendy Morton has also left the government, writing on Twitter that she is “heading to the backbenches”.

Her exit is perhaps unsurprising, as Ms Morton presided over a chaotic parliamentary party under Ms Truss’s premiership.

Her short time in the role culminated in farcical scenes during a Commons vote on fracking the night before Ms Truss announced her resignation, with claims of MPs being “bullied” into voting with the government.

Vicky Ford

Foreign minister Vicky Ford has also left the government. She told Sky News political correspondent Joe Pike that “space was needed to bring in new talent”.

She added: “I think that Rishi will make a very good government from all different parts of the party.

“Some of us need to move on in order to make sure he’s got room to bring in some really good talent from all across the party.”

Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma has departed as minister of state at the cabinet office. He will remain COP26 president and will negotiate on behalf of the UK at COP27.

Green MP Caroline Lucas condemned his departure from the cabinet table, saying it was an “utterly shameful” move “just weeks before one of the most important global climate summits in a generation at #COP27 in Egypt”.

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