Michael Gove and Liz Truss handed new Cabinet roles as Priti Patel stays put

By Max Channon

Liz Truss has been appointed Foreign Secretary as Boris Johnson carried out a dramatic reshaping of his top team.

Mr Johnson demoted Dominic Raab, who has been widely criticised for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis, moving him from the Foreign Office to the Ministry of Justice but also handing him the title Deputy Prime Minister.

Ms Truss takes over at the Foreign Office and, with Priti Patel remaining at the Home Office, two of the great offices of state are now held by women.

Michael Gove has become Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government tasked with taking on “cross-Government responsibility for levelling up”, Downing Street said.

And Priti Patel has is to remain at the Home Office amid Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.

“A huge privilege to continue serving as Home Secretary under our Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” she tweeted.

“There is still so much more to do to deliver for the British people. Tackling illegal migration, cutting crime and continuing to keep our great country safe.”

While Mr Raab retains his seat at the Cabinet table, the Prime Minister sacked Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and Robert Buckland.

Tory party co-chair Amanda Milling was also ousted, just weeks before the Conservative conference.

Michael Gove replaces Mr Jenrick at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, while also taking on cross-government responsibility for Mr Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda.

Mr Raab’s demotion comes after he was heavily criticised for being on holiday as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan.

The title Deputy Prime Minister formalises a role he performed as first secretary of state when he stood in for Mr Johnson while the Prime Minister was in hospital with coronavirus.

Mr Raab accepted the new role following lengthy talks with Mr Johnson in the Prime Minister’s Commons office.

Downing Street confirmed Mr Williamson had been sacked by the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon, with the same fate greeting Mr Buckland as justice secretary and Mr Jenrick from housing.

The Prime Minister was carrying out a long-awaited shake-up of his top team with plans to put in place a “strong and united” Cabinet following the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Williamson was one of the ministers deemed most at risk of being told to return to the backbenches, particularly due to his handling of the exams fiasco during the Covid-19 crisis.

He announced his exit by saying “it has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019”, adding that he will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government.

After receiving the axe, Mr Jenrick pledged to continue supporting the Prime Minister “in every way I can”.

“I’m deeply proud of all we achieved,” he said, thanking his colleagues at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

His sacking from Mr Johnson’s top team followed controversies including the unlawful approval of a Tory donor’s housing development and his eyebrow-raising journeys during lockdown.

Also to go was Mr Buckland, who said it had been an “honour” to serve in the Government for the last seven years, including the last two as justice secretary and lord chancellor.

“I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure,” he said.

The courts system has been under huge strain during the pandemic but a specific reason for his departure was unclear.

Sir Bob Neill, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, criticised Mr Buckland’s exit, saying: “You deserved better.”

“You did a first-rate job and, importantly, always stood up for the rule of law and the integrity of the justice system,” Sir Bob added.


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