Following the COVID-19 pandemic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began reshuffling his cabinet of top ministers on Wednesday, with the education minister becoming the first to depart. Johnson hopes to refocus the government on boosting living standards.
The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed action on the promises Johnson made when he won the largest Conservative Party parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher in 2019.
Johnson has made tackling regional inequality a priority for his government, but the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed action on the promises he made when he won the largest Conservative Party parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher in 2019.
After months of criticism for gaffes and errors by members of his cabinet, Boris has now begun a process that some say he wanted to start weeks ago, to make the adjustments he believes he needs to move on with his “levelling up” programme.
“We know the public also wants us to deliver on their priorities, and that’s why the prime minister wants to ensure we have the right team in place for that,” Johnson’s spokesman said.
Johnson’s office said he will choose ministers “with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country,” according to a source in his office.
After being chastised for his management of school closures and exams during the COVID outbreak, Gavin Williamson was the first to announce his resignation as education minister.
This month, Williamson was chastised for misrepresenting two black campaigning athletes, claiming to have met with soccer player Marcus Rashford when it was actually rugby player Maro Itoje.
For weeks, rumours have circulated about a rearrangement and who might be on their way up or out.
Some in his party speculated that the possibility of a reshuffle aided Johnson’s plans for a tax increase to address a health and social care crisis, which had been severely criticised for disproportionately harming the poor.
Critics say Johnson chose Wednesday for the reshuffle to draw attention away from the opposition Labour Party’s planned vote in parliament on the government’s decision to scrap extra support for low-income families put in place during the pandemic, a move that some of his own lawmakers have questioned.
Rishi Sunak, the finance minister, sat next to Johnson in parliament during his weekly question-and-answer session, but Williamson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who are both expected to be transferred, were not present.
Following Raab’s vacation in Crete, while the Taliban advanced on Kabul and reports that thousands of emails from people requesting help to evacuate Afghanistan went unread, Johnson has faced calls to fire him.