2020 British cabinet reshuffle

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Boris Johnson carried out the first significant reshuffle of his majority government in February 2020. Following the result of the December 2019 general election, there was considerable speculation that Johnson was planning a major reshuffle of the Cabinet, to take place after the United Kingdom's official withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020. There were reports that up to a third of the Cabinet would be dismissed, Whitehall departments abolished and civil servants replaced by policy experts.[1] The anticipated reshuffle was nicknamed "The St Valentine's Day Massacre" in the press, due to its proximity to St Valentine's Day. The name itself is a reference to the 1929 gangland shooting.[2][3]

Johnson formed his first ministry on 24 July 2019, following his election as Leader of the Conservative Party and subsequent appointment as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[4] In September 2019, he carried out small reshuffles in response to the resignations of two Cabinet ministers (Jo Johnson and Amber Rudd).[5][6] After the Conservative Party's victory in the 2019 general election, Johnson carried out another small reshuffle to fill the position left vacant as a result of Alun Cairns' resignation in the previous month.[7]

On 13 February 2020, Johnson reshuffled the government. Five Cabinet ministers were sacked, including the Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, a decision that was criticised by several politicians and commentators.[8] Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resigned from the Cabinet after refusing Johnson's demand that he fire his advisers.[9]

Cabinet-level changes[edit]

Colour key
  •      Joined the Cabinet
  •      Left the Cabinet
Minister Position before reshuffle Result of reshuffle
Nicky Morgan MP.jpg Rt Hon The Baroness Morgan of Cotes PC Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Left the government (intention to stand down announced in January 2020)
Official portrait of Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP Minister for the Cabinet Office
Paymaster General
Became Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Official portrait of Michael Gove crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Given additional role as Minister for the Cabinet Office
Official portrait of Julian Smith crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Julian Smith CBE MP Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Left the government
Official portrait of Brandon Lewis crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Brandon Lewis CBE MP Minister of State for Security and Deputy for EU Exit and No Deal Preparation Became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Official portrait of Esther McVey crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Esther McVey MP Minister of State for Housing and Planning Left the government
Official portrait of Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Left the government
Official portrait of Alok Sharma crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP Secretary of State for International Development Became Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Official portrait of Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan crop 2.jpg Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP Minister of State for the Armed Forces Became Secretary of State for International Development
Official portrait of Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP Attorney General for England and Wales
Advocate General for Northern Ireland
Left the government
Official portrait of Suella Braverman MP crop 2.jpg Suella Braverman MP Backbench MP Became Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland
Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP.jpg Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Left the government
Official portrait of George Eustice MP crop 2.jpg George Eustice MP Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Became Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Official portrait of Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP Chancellor of the Exchequer Resigned after refusing to fire his advisers
Official portrait of Rishi Sunak crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury Became Chancellor of the Exchequer
Official portrait of Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP Backbench MP, previously Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union until January 31 2020 Became Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Official portrait of Rt Hon James Cleverly MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon James Cleverly TD VR MP Minister without Portfolio
(Chairman of the Conservative Party)[note 1]
Left the Cabinet; became Minister of State for the Middle East & North Africa and International Development
Official portrait of Amanda Milling MP crop 2.jpg Amanda Milling MP Deputy Chief Government Whip

Treasurer of the Household

Became Minister without Portfolio (and Chairman of the Conservative Party)[note 1]
Official portrait of Rt Hon Jake Berry MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Jake Berry MP Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse Resigned after refusing a new position at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Junior ministerial changes[edit]

Colour key
  •      Promoted[note 2]
  •      Left the government
Minister Position before reshuffle Result of reshuffle
Official portrait of Chris Skidmore crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Chris Skidmore FRHistS FSA FRSA MP Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Left the government
Official portrait of Michelle Donelan MP crop 2.jpg Michelle Donelan MP Backbench MP (elected in 2015) Became Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation
Official portrait of George Freeman MP crop 2.jpg George Freeman MP Minister of State for Transport Left the government
Official portrait of Andrew Stephenson MP crop 2.jpg Andrew Stephenson MP Minister of State for Africa and International Development Became Minister of State for Transport
Official portrait of Nigel Adams MP crop 2.jpg Nigel Adams MP Minister of State for Sport, Media & Creative Industries Became Minister of State for Africa and International Development
Official portrait of Caroline Dinenage MP crop 2.jpg Caroline Dinenage MP Minister of State for Social Care Became Minister of State for Sport, Media & Creative Industries
Official portrait of Helen Whately MP crop 2.jpg Helen Whately MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism Became Minister of State for Social Care
Official portrait of Nigel Huddleston MP crop 2.jpg Nigel Huddleston MP Backbench MP (elected in 2015) Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Official portrait of Mr John Whittingdale crop 2.jpg Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP Backbench MP (elected in 1992) Became Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
NusratGhaniMP.jpg Nus Ghani MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Left the government
Official portrait of Kelly Tolhurst crop 2.jpg Kelly Tolhurst MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
Official portrait of Paul Scully crop 2.jpg Paul Scully MP Backbench MP (elected in 2015) Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Minister for London
Official portrait of Chris Philp MP crop 2.jpg Chris Philp MP Minister for London Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Home Affairs
Official portrait of James Heappey MP crop 2.jpg James Heappey MP Backbench MP (elected in 2015) Became Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Rt Hon Andrew Murrison MP.jpg Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP Minister of State for International Development and the Middle East Left the government
Official portrait of Penny Mordaunt crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP Backbench MP (elected in 2010) Became Paymaster General
Official portrait of Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Became Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Official portrait of Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP crop 2.jpg Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP Backbench MP (elected in 2010) Became Minister of State for Security
Official portrait of Jeremy Quin MP crop 2.jpg Jeremy Quin MP Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Became Minister for Defence Procurement
Official portrait of Julia Lopez MP crop 2.jpg Julia Lopez MP Backbench MP (elected in 2017) Became Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office
Official portrait of Chloe Smith MP crop 2.jpg Chloe Smith MP Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Became Minister of State for the Cabinet Office
Official portrait of Mr Robin Walker MP crop 2.jpg Robin Walker MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Became Minister of State for Northern Ireland
Official portrait of Mrs Heather Wheeler MP crop 2.jpg Heather Wheeler MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Left the government
Official portrait of Wendy Morton MP crop 2.jpg Wendy Morton MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development
Official portrait of James Duddridge MP crop 2.jpg James Duddridge MP Backbench MP (elected in 2005) Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development
Official portrait of Alex Chalk MP crop 2.jpg Alex Chalk MP Backbench MP (elected in 2015) Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice
Official portrait of Victoria Prentis MP crop 2.jpg Victoria Prentis MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Official portrait of Amanda Solloway MP crop 2.jpg Amanda Solloway MP Backbench MP (elected in 2019, first elected in 2015) Became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation
Official portrait of Paul Maynard MP crop 2.jpg Paul Maynard MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Left the government
Official portrait of Rachel Maclean MP crop 2.jpg Rachel Maclean MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
Official portrait of Gillian Keegan MP.jpg Gillian Keegan MP Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education
Official portrait of Mr Simon Clarke MP crop 2.jpg Simon Clarke MP Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Became Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse
Official portrait of Mrs Kemi Badenoch crop 2.jpg Kemi Badenoch MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families Became Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Trade
Official portrait of Vicky Ford MP crop 2.jpg Vicky Ford MP Backbench MP (elected in 2017) Became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Kit Malthouse MP.jpg Kit Malthouse MP Minister of State for Crime, Policing and the Fire Service Given additional position as Minister of State for Justice

Whips' Office appointments[edit]

Whip Previous position New position
Official portrait of Stuart Andrew MP crop 2.jpg Stuart Andrew MP Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Deputy Chief Government Whip
Treasurer of the Household
Official portrait of Mr Marcus Jones crop 2.jpg Marcus Jones MP Assistant Government Whip Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
Official portrait of James Morris MP crop 2.jpg James Morris MP Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
MichaelTomlinson3 (cropped).jpg Michael Tomlinson MP Backbencher
Official portrait of Alex Chalk MP crop 2.jpg Alex Chalk MP Assistant Government Whip
Official portrait of Eddie Hughes MP crop 2.jpg Eddie Hughes MP

Reaction[edit]

Dismissal of Julian Smith[edit]

Smith (left) and Johnson (right) visit Northern Ireland in July 2019

The decision to dismiss Julian Smith as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was criticised by a number of prominent political figures in Northern Ireland, including SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who described the move as showing "dangerous indifference" by the Prime Minister.[10] Smith had been widely seen as instrumental in securing a cross-party deal to restore the Northern Ireland Executive, after three years without a devolved government in Stormont.[11][8] Tributes to Smith's tenure as Northern Ireland Secretary were paid by NI First Minister Arlene Foster and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Both praised him for his role in ending the political deadlock in the country.[12][13]

Many political commentators expressed their surprise at Smith's dismissal, given his perceived success during his time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Some suggested that Smith's testimony to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee in October 2019, in which he described a potential no-deal Brexit as being "a very, very bad idea for Northern Ireland",[14] had influenced the decision to remove him from his position.[15] Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, speculated that the consequence of Johnson's removal of Smith would be the destabilisation of the new power-sharing agreement and increased difficulty in negotiating the details of the "New Protocol".[16]

Resignation of Sajid Javid[edit]

Javid with Gladstone, Chief Mouser to HM Treasury

Tensions between 10 Downing Street and the Treasury had come to a head in August 2019, when the Prime Minister's Chief Special Adviser Dominic Cummings fired one of Chancellor Sajid Javid's aides, Sonia Khan, without Javid's permission and without informing him. It was alleged that, during her dismissal, Cummings "went outside No 10 and asked an armed officer to enter the building and escort Khan off the premises."[17] In November 2019, following questions of a rift between the two men, Johnson gave his assurance that he would retain Javid as Chancellor after the 2019 general election.[18]

However, in the weeks leading up to the reshuffle, a number of briefings in the press had suggested that a new economic ministry led by Rishi Sunak might be established, to reduce the power and political influence of the Treasury. Sunak was considered to be a Johnson loyalist, seen as the "rising star" minister who had ably represented the Prime Minister during the 2019 election debates.[19][20] By February 2020, it was reported that Javid would remain in his role as Chancellor and that Sunak would stay on as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in order to "keep an eye" on Javid.[21]

On 13 February 2020, the day of the reshuffle, Javid resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer, following a meeting with the Prime Minister. During the meeting, Johnson had offered to allow Javid to keep his position on the condition that he fire all his advisers at the Treasury and replace them with ones selected by 10 Downing Street.[9] Upon resigning, Javid told the Press Association that "no self-respecting minister would accept those terms".[22][23]

The Chancellor's resignation had been unexpected, given Johnson's commitment to keep him in the Cabinet and recent reports that a rival finance ministry would not be created. Robert Shrimsley, chief political commentator of the Financial Times, warned that the Prime Minister's handling of his relationship with Javid could damage the government. He argued that "good government often depends on senior ministers – and the chancellor in particular – being able to fight bad ideas. Mr Johnson's cabinet has just seen the price of defiance".[24]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Non-ministerial position
  2. ^ According to the ministerial pay scale:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shipman, Tim (15 December 2019). "Now for the Boris Johnson revolution — PM to wield axe in radical cabinet reshuffle". The Times.
  2. ^ Balls, Katy (13 January 2020). "The strategy behind Boris Johnson's incoming government shake-up". The Spectator.
  3. ^ Tominey, Camilla (5 February 2020). "Will Boris Johnson's post-Brexit reshuffle be a Valentine's Day massacre?". Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Boris Johnson becomes UK's new prime minister". BBC News. 24 July 2019.
  5. ^ Havergal, Chris (10 September 2019). "Chris Skidmore returns as universities minister in UK government". Times Higher Education.
  6. ^ "Therese Coffey replaces Amber Rudd in cabinet after dramatic resignation". ITV News. 8 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. 16 December 2019.
  8. ^ a b Walker, Peter (13 February 2020). "Smith, Leadsom and McVey out as Johnson reshuffles cabinet". The Guardian.
  9. ^ a b "Cabinet reshuffle: Sajid Javid resigns as chancellor". BBC News. 13 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Julian Smith sacked as NI Secretary by Boris Johnson". BBC News. 13 February 2020.
  11. ^ Elliott, Francis; Swinford, Steven (13 February 2020). "Boris Johnson fires Julian Smith, minister who secured Stormont deal". The Times.
  12. ^ Edwards, Mark (13 February 2020). "Julian Smith sacked from Northern Ireland post in Boris Johnson's Cabinet reshuffle". Belfast Telegraph.
  13. ^ Leo Varadkar [@LeoVaradkar] (13 February 2020). "In 8 months as Secretary of State, Julian you helped to restore powersharing in Stormont, secured an agreement with us to avoid a hard border, plus marriage equality. You are one of Britain's finest politicians of our time. Thank you" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Mairs, Nicholas (23 October 2019). "Julian Smith breaks ranks with Boris Johnson to brand no-deal Brexit 'very bad' for Northern Ireland". PoliticsHome.
  15. ^ Forrest, Adam (13 February 2020). "Boris Johnson news – live: PM axes Tory minister who helped secure Stormont deal, as fresh questions raised over £15,000 Caribbean holiday". The Independent.
  16. ^ Bush, Stephen (13 February 2020). "Boris Johnson has already made the most important sacking of today's reshuffle". New Statesman.
  17. ^ Helm, Toby; Townsend,Mark (1 September 2019). "PM 'must launch urgent inquiry into Dominic Cummings's reign of terror'". The Guardian.
  18. ^ Parker, George; Payne, Sebastian (18 November 2019). "Boris Johnson vows to retain Sajid Javid as chancellor". Financial Times.
  19. ^ Parker, George (25 December 2019). "Johnson's 'favourite minister' tipped to run super-ministry". Financial Times.
  20. ^ Balls, Katy (13 February 2020). "Is Sajid Javid at war with No. 10?". The Spectator.
  21. ^ Mason, Rowena (5 February 2020). "Ministers jostle as Johnson plans long-awaited reshuffle". The Guardian.
  22. ^ Mason, Rowena (13 February 2020). "Sajid Javid resigns as chancellor amid Johnson reshuffle". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Sajid Javid quits as British Chancellor". RTÉ. 13 February 2020.
  24. ^ Shrimsley, Robert (13 February 2020). "Johnson has backed Cummings over his chancellor — and there will be a cost". Financial Times.