Cabinet reshuffle: Hopes and predictions

By Kieran Burt 

As a rumoured Cabinet reshuffle looms, what changes should be made?


The Sunday Times recently ran a piece explaining that a Cabinet reshuffle is looming as Boris Johnson unveils his plans to fund social care. 


Johnson will need all the support he can get in these coming few months. He is planning to battle his own MPs for a tax rise to fund social care, and in order to gain some much needed support he is set to reshuffle his Cabinet.


Chancellor of the Exchequer: Rishi Sunak


Rishi Sunak is a very popular man. While others in the Cabinet have received criticism for their handling of the pandemic, Sunak is one senior Tory that comes out with near universal praise. It is hard to argue against policies like the furlough scheme and Eat Out To Help Out, which were popular initiatives, and no doubt many are indebted to them. Many people think he will be the next Tory leader after Johnson. 


Sunak will probably keep his post. He has proved himself to be a competent member of the Cabinet, learning the ropes of the job very quickly. Sunak has definitely earned himself a place to stay, and guide us through the recovery of the pandemic. 


Foreign Secretary: Dominic Raab


Dominic Raab is not as popular as Sunak, and his position is more vulnerable. The fact that he was on holiday when Kabul fell and that he delegated a phone call to a junior minister, which then never happened, has reflected badly on him. Raab was criticised from all sides about this and it has certainly damaged his security in his important Governmental role. 


He shouldn’t go, but his position is incredibly vulnerable following the disaster in Afghanistan. A strong candidate to replace him is Liz Truss. Last year alone, she negotiated 63 trade deals with other countries, has secured a deal with Australia and has started to resolve the Airbus/Boeing dispute. She is a favourite among the Cabinet, even polling above Sunak. She is worthy of a promotion, and Foreign Secretary would suit her talents.   


Home Secretary: Priti Patel


Priti Patel should go as Home Secretary. Firstly, the bullying inquiry late last year was handled poorly, and Patel should have gone. It seriously undermined the Ministerial Code in the process. But beyond that, Patel has not had a good year. The migrant crisis at the Channel has not been dealt with sufficiently for several months. The Home Office has also introduced two Bills, firstly the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the rumoured reform to the Official Secrets Act that would have serious consequences for our democracy. 


The person that should replace Patel is Michael Gove. While he is largely unpopular, he is a powerful figure in the Conservative Party. Therefore, to ignore his standing in the party would be foolish.  He has also largely remained unscathed during the Covid crisis, as he has played the optimal strategy of keeping quiet. He has also had plenty of experience within Government, such as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meaning that he could bring a much needed climate focused perspective to the role, in order to meet net zero. 


Health Secretary: Sajid Javid 


Sajid Javid is in a very safe position. He was only moved to the position at the end of June after Matt Hancock’s resignation. While Nadhim Zahawi is more suitable to take the role, his success with the vaccine rollout and risk taking attitude would be a bold step that is much needed - but his time will come.


And, if Boris Johnson intends to perform a shake up of social care and introduce vaccine passports at the end of the month, then keeping the safe and stable pair of hands that is Sajid Javid, is a must. It would be extremely surprising if Javid were to change roles. 


Education Secretary: Gavin Williamson


Gavin Williamson should be removed from Cabinet. Over the course of the pandemic, he has consistently failed those in education. For students at university, the government has failed to provide the necessary support, both economically but mentally also. While some of this responsibility is on the universities also, this was a good chance for a Conservative government to prove to students that they had their back. Williamson failed to take this opportunity. For two years consecutively, GCSE and A-Level students have been failed by the Government. The U-turn in 2020 was embarrassing; the grade inflation of 2021 even worse.


A suitable replacement for Williamson is Kemi Badenoch. Having been elected in 2017, she is climbing the ranks of Government. She was the under secretary for Williamson from July 2019 to February 2020, and has since been made Equalities Minister and Exchequer Secretary. In light of the recent report on how white working-class males are often forgotten in education, her experience as Equalities Minister could be put to great use. In addition, her open criticism for calls to introduce Critical Race Theory into classrooms across the UK makes her a suitable candidate. 


International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss


As has been previously mentioned, Liz Truss is a popular and successful Cabinet member. Therefore, her chances of being in her current position are high, but there is also potential for promotion. With Dominic Raab in a precarious position, Truss would be the obvious choice to replace him. No doubt she would be able to bring her success to the role. 


But that then begs the question: who should replace Truss? That person should be Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Formerly part of the International Development Department, she has relevant experience with international affairs, and could build on Truss’ success.


Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace  


Ben Wallace is likely to stay in the Cabinet. Despite his Department failing to cancel the production of the horrific Ajax tank, the UK withdrawal of Afghanistan was successful and he managed to complete it without UK casualties, unlike his American counterpart. 


With these two things kept in mind, the completion of the Afghanistan withdrawal will stay in minds longer of people and Johnson than a failed tank project started under a different administration. Also, having been a former officer in the Scots Guards makes him far more qualified for the top Defence position, than a career politician.  


Transport Secretary: Grant Shapps 


Grant Shapps is in a relatively weak position too. The rules on which country people could travel to were a confusing mess, and the attempt of adding an “amber plus” list was quickly shelved. Shapps, however, might be able to push some of the blame for this onto Raab if he is forced out. 


More recently, the shortage of lorry drivers means Shapps has a chance to prove he can solve the crisis. A new Transport Secretary would take too much time getting caught up to speed. Therefore this strengthens Shapp’s position, making it unlikely he will be replaced. 


Image credit: UK Prime Minister 


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