LONDON Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a long-awaited shake-up of his cabinet on Wednesday in a move aimed at reviving a government whose popularity now appears to be declining.
Three senior ministers, Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of Education, Robert Buckland, the Registrar and Robert Jenrick, housing, communities and local government secretaries, confirmed that they had been removed and posted on Twitter that it had been a privilege to serve in the government.
Much of the speculation about cabinet changes in recent weeks has focused on Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, whose position has been considered weak after widespread criticism of his handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan. His position was further reduced by his decision to delay his return from vacation when the Taliban took control of Kabul.
Downing Street confirmed the quake in a statement but did not provide further details. “The Prime Minister will today make a reshuffle to set up a strong and united team to build better back from the pandemic,” a spokesman said.
A reorganization gives Johnson the opportunity to reshape the government’s highest level ahead of a party conference next month where he will try to provide a clearer post-covid political agenda. But with the number of cases of coronavirus is still high, the government is also ready for the possibility of an increase in hospital stays during the autumn and winter.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson presented his plans to fight the virus as winter approaches and says the UK would offer vaccine boost shots to people aged 50 and over, and first shots to children aged 12 to 15. His government is determined to avoid further lockdown but can resort to measures such as the worm mandate for infections is increasing.
Following a successful start to the UK vaccine program earlier this year, Johnson’s Conservatives rose in opinion polls, but that lead now seems to be evaporating. Last week, Mr. Johnson a game breaks an election promise not to raise taxes so that he could set aside more money for health and social care.
His critics have also complained about the lack of clarity about the government’s main domestic promise to “level out”, which means that prosperity is delivered to regions that are economically vulnerable.
As education secretary, Williamson had faced harsh criticism for presided over a crisis in school survey results last year. Mr. Jenrick, as housing secretary, faced criticism after approving a real estate project with a donor from the Conservative Party, and was responsible for a proposed removal of building restrictions in England that was unpopular with some conservative legislators. Mr Buckland’s term of office was much smoother but his resignation frees up a position in the Cabinet for other moves.
But until now, Johnson had been reluctant to move or fire members of a top team that was originally largely elected by his own supporters and supporters of Brexit, which Johnson advocated.
Since his great parliamentary election victory in December 2019, Johnson has made few changes to his locker, especially in February 2020, when Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor after refusing to accept curbs on his right to hire his own advisers.
Mr Javid’s job went to Rishi Sunak, who has emerged as a leading figure in the government and a potential successor to Johnson. But Javid returned to government earlier this year as health secretary when his predecessor, Matt Hancock, was forced to resign from that post in June.