The Daily Telegraph

Raab and Gove lose out as Truss promoted

Trade Secretary moves to the Foreign Office as Tory heavyweigh­ts are demoted in Johnson’s reshuffle

- By Ben Riley-smith Political Editor

BORIS JOHNSON yesterday demoted Dominic Raab, promoted Liz Truss to the Foreign Office and moved Michael Gove out of the centre of power in a reshuffle that was more extensive than expected.

The Prime Minister tried to strengthen the Conservati­ve Party’s political operation as he made Oliver Dowden co-chairman and put Stephen Barclay in charge at the Cabinet Office.

There was also a shake-up at Education as Gavin Williamson was sacked and replaced with the minister who has overseen the successful Covid vaccine rollout, Nadhim Zahawi.

Ms Truss’s promotion, becoming the Tories’ first female Foreign Secretary, leaves her well positioned should she one day seek the leadership.

The reshuffle sets the team who will drive forward the reforms Mr Johnson hopes to deliver before seeking a second full term in office.

The Daily Telegraph understand­s that Mr Dowden, newly installed as party co-chairman, told his staff yesterday: “It’s time to go to our offices and prepare for the next election.”

But it was also a culling of government ministers deemed to have made high-profile blunders or who had lost the support of the party base.

Mr Johnson said: “The Cabinet I have appointed today will work tirelessly to unite and level up the whole country. We will build back better from the pandemic and deliver on your priorities. Now let’s get on with the job.”

A Government source said: “The Prime Minister wants optimistic, cando, determined, smart people who will run their department­s very effectivel­y and deliver for the public.”

The reshuffle marked the biggest shake-up in Mr Johnson’s front bench since he first made appointmen­ts after taking office in July 2019, ending a period of loyalty to most of his Cabinet that has lasted more than two years.

It reflects a pivot in the Johnson premiershi­p this autumn, along with his tax hike to pay for the NHS and social care, as a renewed focus on delivering domestic reforms is adopted after 18 months of fighting the pandemic.

In all, four ministers were removed entirely from the Cabinet: Mr Williamson, Amanda Milling as party co-chairman, Robert Jenrick as communitie­s secretary and Robert Buckland as justice secretary.

But the most high-profile demotion was Mr Raab, who remained in Cabinet but was stripped of one of the great offices of state, the Foreign Office.

The announceme­nt came just a month after Mr Raab had been on the beach at a luxury hotel in Crete as Kabul, the Afghanista­n capital, fell to the Taliban in what Tory MPS called Britain’s biggest foreign policy disaster in 65 years.

Yesterday he was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, plus, in a surprise appointmen­t, also named Deputy Prime Minister.

Multiple Government sources said

that Mr Raab had strongly resisted the move in private meetings with Mr Johnson yesterday, leading to a delay in the reshuffle.

There was speculatio­n that the Deputy Prime Minister title – last held by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during the coalition – was handed to Mr Raab after he resisted being demoted.

It was unclear last night whether the title came with any new responsibi­lities, given Mr Raab already had the title of First Secretary of State, which meant standing in for Mr Johnson when the Prime Minister was unavailabl­e, such as when in hospital with Covid in 2020.

Mr Raab was a lawyer and will face the challenge of clearing the courts backlog triggered by the pandemic. A Downing Street figure declined to comment on the private conversati­ons between Mr Raab and Mr Johnson.

Mr Raab’s demotion created space for one of the big winners of the reshuffle: Ms Truss, who became the Tory Party’s first female Foreign Secretary. Labour’s Margaret Beckett became the first woman to hold the office in 2006.

The appointmen­t completed Ms Truss’s rise to a great office of state after stints as environmen­t secretary, justice secretary, chief secretary to the Treasury and, most recently, internatio­nal trade secretary. Ms Truss, the Cabinet minister with the highest approval rating among Tory members according to a Conservati­ve Home poll last month, will fly to America within days to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

Her promotion means that two of the four great offices of state are now held by women after Priti Patel was kept in place as Home Secretary. Rishi Sunak was also kept on as Chancellor.

The third highest profile change saw Mr Gove, who has held a Cabinet role almost every year since David Cameron’s first Cabinet in 2010, given a new department to head up. In the past two years, Mr Gove has been at the centre of Mr Johnson’s Government as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Cabinet Office.

He has taken on a problem-solving role for Mr Johnson, heading up Covid cabinet committees, unpacking the issue of Covid passports, spearheadi­ng the fight against Scottish independen­ce and, at one time, handling talks on Brexit’s impact in Northern Ireland.

Mr Gove has become Communitie­s Secretary, meaning he will take charge of landing the major shake-up of the planning system that has triggered fierce Tory backbench resistance and recently saw major changes adopted.

Downing Street sources last night pointed out Mr Gove’s constituen­cy is Surrey Heath, the type of southern rural constituen­cy whose Tory MPS are voicing criticism about the plans. They vowed that he would listen to concerns.

Mr Gove will also continue his role heading up policy on the Union, not least countering SNP calls for a second Scottish independen­ce referendum, and he will drive forward Mr Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda, more detail on which is expected this autumn.

However, the move also means Mr Gove will be one step further removed from the centre of government than he has been for the past two years. He was also not handed one of the more prominent department­s, such as the Home Office or the Foreign Office, that he had been reportedly interested in.

Stephen Barclay, the chief secretary to the Treasury who is seen as a safe pair of hands, has moved to the Cabinet Office to take Mr Gove’s previous role.

It will see him lead the influentia­l “Covid-o” committee meetings that shape decisions on tackling the pandemic, while aware, from his Treasury days, of the economic impacts.

The reshuffle’s timing reflected the approachin­g Tory Party annual conference at the end of the month, allowing Mr Johnson to present his new team to party members.

 ??  ?? Liz Truss, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, and the first Tory woman to hold the position, leaving 10 Downing Street yesterday
Liz Truss, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, and the first Tory woman to hold the position, leaving 10 Downing Street yesterday

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