Boris Johnson to Reshuffle Cabinet Today, Downing Street Source Says
11:20 GMT 15.09.2021 (Updated: 12:07 GMT 15.09.2021)
© REUTERS / REUTERS TVWeekly question time debate in Parliament in London
© REUTERS / REUTERS TV
A Downing Street cabinet reshuffle has been widely-mooted for weeks, amid harsh criticism of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over his handling of the hasty evacuation of embassy staff and Afghan asylum-seekers from Kabul in August.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a cabinet reshuffle later on Wednesday, a Downing Street source has revealed.
The source said Johnson would appoint a new "strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic" and implement the Conservative Party's 2019 election manifesto promise to tackle regional underdevelopment and inequality.
"The Prime Minister will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country," the source said.
Westminster journalists expected the reshuffle to come last Thursday, but getting Johnson's controversial health and social care plan through Parliament came first.
A widely-mooted target for demotion or sacking could be Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was criticised for not returning early from his family summer holiday on the Greek island of Crete during the chaotic evacuation of Kabul prompted by US president Joe Biden's hasty decision to abandon Washington's embassy there. Raab chose to manage the crisis remotely but failed to return a call to the former Afghan foreign minister.
8 September, 09:17 GMT
Gavin Williamson, who Johnson demoted from defence to education in 2019, could also lose out after a year of flip-flopping on COVID-19 measures in schools and how to issue final grades in the absence of exams. He is rumoured to be heading for the difficult Northern Ireland Office.
Both Raab and Williamson were absent from the Tory front bench at PM's questions in Parliament on Wednesday lunchtime.
Those more likely to feel secure in their jobs are International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the two most popular members of the cabinet among Tory party members. Truss has been tipped to take over from Raab as foreign secretary.
Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Gove is rumoured as a replacement for Home Secretary Priti Patel — although her public approval rating is way above Johnson's despite her strugglin to control people-trafficking across the English Channel and North Sea.
Earlier in the summer, Matt Hancock resigned as health secretary after it was revealed he had broken office COVID-19 restrictions with a passionate embrace of a colleague with whom he was having an affair. Former chancellor Sajid Javid took over the health portfolio within 24 hours.
Hancock publicly apologised for not maintaining social distancing — but not for his infidelity which has ended his marriage.