Cabinet Reshuffle: In with the old…

On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak started his long awaited cabinet reshuffle and, despite painting himself as an agent of change only a few weeks ago, the biggest story of the day was the return of former PM David Cameron to head up the Foreign Office.

Nevertheless, despite previous indications, there is a definite attempt to shift the Tory Government back to the centre, not only with Cameron’s return to front line politics but with people like Laura Trott and Victoria Atkins also receiving promotions.

As predicated, Suella Braverman has been sacked from cabinet following a series of controversies although, given her own political ambitions, this may allow her to kick start her campaign to replace Sunak as Conservative Leader after the General Election.

Whilst the promotions often get much of the headlines for a Prime Ministers, it is the sackings that can lead to problems for them down the line. Sunak will hope that Braverman doesn’t make life too difficult for him now that she has the freedom of the backbenches to attack his leadership.

In other signifiant areas of Government, Jeremy Hunt stays on as Chancellor, James Cleverly has moved to the Home Office and Richard Holden has been appointed as Party Chairman.

Despite speculation that he would be sacked, Northern Ireland Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, has remained in post although the post of Chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee at Westminster will need to be filled following the promotion of outgoing Chair Simon Hoare to the position of Undersecretary of State in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Once again, all of the great offices of State are occupied by men but some younger female talent has been promoted in other areas of Government.

Chancellor – Jeremy Hunt

With an autumn statement less than two weeks away, it would have been extraordinary had Rishi Sunak moved Jeremy Hunt at this stage.

Despite persistent chatter that Sunak may want to promote his close ally Claire Coutinho, having an element of stability in this key role, and in the financial markets, is probably far more important for a PM who wants to espouse seriousness and stability in his Government.

Elsewhere in the Treasury, Laura Trott was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Foreign Secretary – David Cameron

The greatest shock of the morning came when David Cameron was spotted walking into Downing Street and was subsequently appointed as Foreign Secretary (and to the House of Lords).

Whilst there are many historical examples of former Prime Ministers returning to serve in Cabinet after leaving No 10, Cameron’s return will be only the second time since the Second World War that this has happened.

Supporters of Cameron will point to his experience, particularly on the world stage, but detractors will suggest his return is indicative of a lack of talent on the Tory benches and will be quick to remind voters of his foreign policy missteps in China, Libya, Syria and with the Brexit vote in 2016.

Home Secretary – James Cleverly

James Cleverly, former Foreign Secretary, has replaced Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. It is one of the toughest jobs in cabinet but, having demonstrated that he is competent and steady in his previous role, he is exactly the type of person that Sunak hopes can settle in to the role after a difficult and controversial period for the Home Office.

Cleverly is a Brexiteer who also backed Liz Truss, thus will be seen as being on the right of the party.

Other significant appointments and demotions:

Esther McVey appointed Minister of State at Cabinet Office.

Victoria Atkins appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Richard Holden appointed new Party Chairman.

Steve Barclay appointed Secretary of State for Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Bim Afolami appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Gareth Bacon appointed PuSS in Ministry of Justice.

Saqib Bhatti appointed PuSS in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Anthony Browne appointed PuSS in the Department for Transport.

Laura Farris appointed PuSS jointly in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Simon Hoare appointed PuSS in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. 

Fay Jones appointed PuSS in the Wales Office.

Paul Maynard appointed PuSS in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Robbie Moore appointed PuSS in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Guy Opperman appointed PuSS in the Department for Transport.

Andrea Leadsom appointed appointed PuSS in Department of Health and Social Care.

Andrew Griffith appointed science minister.

Lee Rowley appointed Housing Minister.

Greg Hands appointed as Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade.

John Glen appointed Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Laura Trott appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury.