The Speaker
Tuesday, 18 June 2024 – 15:19
Photo by Number 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson, the major casualties in Boris Johnson’s first major reshuffle as prime minister

Speculation had been running through Westminster for days that Boris Johnson was planning a major shakeup of his Cabinet; he supposedly wanted new faces to freshen up his ‘build back better’ team.

Backbenchers were supposedly getting jittery at the delays, with Boris Johnson finally pulling the trigger on Wednesday afternoon, following his weekly clash with Labour’s Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Typically, the prime minister will conduct the firings from their office in Parliament, and hire their replacements back at Downing Street.

It was the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, who was the first to be pulled into Johnson’s office, exiting a few minutes later without a ministerial position. He had been heavily tipped to lose his job after several major scandals hit his department. The cancellation of exams due to the pandemic led to an algorithm being used to decide student’s results, with a disparity between state and private school results being heavily criticised for impacting student’s university places. He was replaced some hours later by the vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi.

Next came the firing of two Roberts; Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary and High Chancellor, and Robert Jenrick, who lost his job as Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary. The firing of Buckland had been largely expected, after failing to make any headway in reforms of the Justice System. Jenrick had been less expected to move, but was replaced by Michael Gove, who had been widely tipped for a new secretarial position.

Buckland’s move also paved the way for the widely expected sacking of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab had been tipped to move on after his handling of the fall of Afghanistan in recent weeks. It had been reported that he had dug in his heels whilst meeting the prime minister, but emerged with a demotion to Justice and the title of Deputy Prime Minister. This role was last held by Nick Clegg during the coalition government, but reflects that Raab’s role as Johnson’s de facto deputy, stepping in during 2020 when Boris Johnson was incapacitated in intensive care.

Raab’s departure as Foreign Secretary led to Liz Truss stepping up from International Trade, taking up the top foreign office job. It was widely expected that she was in line for promotion, with Johnson having seen her as a shining light in her trade position. Her appointment – following the announcement that Priti Patel would remain as Home Secretary – means that two of the four traditional ‘great office of state’ are now held by women. The positions of Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary, are traditionally seen as the biggest jobs in the cabinet, and it is a significant move from the prime minister.

Truss’s move meant that international trade was vacated, with Anne-Marie Trevelyan stepping in to the role.

There were also moves in the leadership of the Conservative Party, with Amanda Milling leaving her role as co-chair of the Conservative Party, and Oliver Dowden stepping in. Dowden had been the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, with this role now being filled by Nadine Dorries.

Stephen Barclay is the final move, stepping in to Gove’s old position as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

There will be further moves today for the junior ministers that operate underneath the secretaries of state, with many of the new appointments vacating their previous junior ministerial positions.

Position Outgoing Incoming
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Liz Truss
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson Nadhim Zahawi
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick Michael Gove
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland Dominic Raab
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden Nadine Dorries
Party Chairman Amanda Milling Oliver Dowden
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