ANALYSIS: Truss allies top picks for new UK cabinet
Boris Johnson is officially out as British PM after announcing his resignation in July.
With Liz Truss winning the UK Conservative Party leadership ballot on 5 September, the new PM has set about choosing her new Cabinet.
Truss successfully defeated Rishi Sunak by over 20,000 votes, with 57.4% of voting party members casting their vote for the former Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.
With the Queen currently residing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland for her summer holiday, amidst allegations over health concerns, Truss and outgoing PM Boris Johnson both made the journey to Scotland for the formalities of appointing a new PM.
Johnson tendered his resignation to the Queen, which she accepted. Shortly afterward, the Queen met with Truss, and recognised that Truss had the support of Parliament to form government, appointing her as the new Prime Minister.
As the position of Prime Minister was formally created after the Act of Settlement 1701, which merged the crown of Scotland with the monarchy of England and Wales, Truss is the first PM to have been sworn in on Scottish soil.
Despite being described as a Thatcherite, Truss’ Cabinet largely consists of her political allies, with The Independent labelling it a ‘cabinet of chums.’ In contrast, Thatcher forced her political enemies to come to the table by including many in her Cabinet, making it very divided.
Australia is not foreign to the notion of appointing allies to Cabinet, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointing Marise Payne to be Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, both positions Truss has also held. However, Truss has taken this further.
Truss’ replacement as Foreign Secretary is James Cleverly, another of her allies, who served under her in two junior roles in the Foreign Office.
Therese Coffey, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has been rewarded for her role in running Truss’ leadership campaign by being made Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The UK will have its first African Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the role going to Kwasi Kwarteng. One of Truss’ closest friends, The Times reports that he was promised the role two weeks ago.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, previously Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, is now the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. His early endorsement of Truss was important, as it helped counterbalance the fact that she was involved in the ‘Remain’ campaign during the Brexit referendum.
Another early Truss backer, Wendy Morton, holds the symbolic office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and is Chief Whip of the House of Commons, two posts that go hand-in-hand. She had previously served as an under-secretary in the Foreign Office during Truss’ tenure there.
Every leadership candidate who lost and endorsed Truss has received a Cabinet position.
Penny Mordaunt came third in the campaign. She was generally seen as falling somewhere in between Truss and the more moderate Sunak. Her endorsement guaranteed Truss’ already likely success in the popular vote by party members. Mordaunt will now serve as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the (Privy) Council. Although she was a challenger to Truss, and beat her in every round of voting by MPs until the final round, she was not close with Sunak or Johnson, with the latter initially removing her from Cabinet in 2019.
Kemi Badenoch, who placed 4th and was another fan of Margaret Thatcher, has been given the dual roles of Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade.
Tom Tugendhat, who placed 5th in the campaign, has been given his first Cabinet post as Minister of State for Security. This position falls under the Home Office.
Nadhim Zahawi was eliminated in the first round of voting during the campaign. He will take over from Truss as Minister for Equalities (previously known as Minister for Women and Equalities). He will also serve as Minister for Intergovernmental Relations and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The latter role is responsible for managing the Queen’s estate, as the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster (the monarch is always the Duke, regardless of gender).
Former Attorney-General of England and Wales Suella Braverman QC, who made it to 6th place in the leadership campaign, will become the new Secretary of State for the Home Department. Priti Patel, the previous Home Secretary, was one of Johnson’s closest allies, so will not receive a Cabinet role. Although she initially put her hand up to be a contestant for the leadership campaign, she dropped out before any voting happened.
Almost all supporters of Rishi Sunak or Johnson, many of them veteran Conservative Party MPs, have been passed over by Truss.
Among the cabinet ministers during Johnson’s tenure to be removed to the backbench are Home Secretary Priti Patel; Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries; Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps; Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab; and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Stephen Barclay.
Sunak and Johnson have also been excluded from Cabinet, along with veterans Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt, both of whom have contested previous leadership campaigns. Hunt is the only candidate in the election to be eliminated and endorse Sunak, not Truss, so this is unsurprising.
Braverman’s replacement is Michael Ellis, who also filled in for her last year when she was on maternity leave, and it is surprising to see a Sunak supporter in such an important role, given that most have been left out. However, as the BBC points out, the Attorney-General role will no longer be a ‘cabinet ministry,’ although Ellis will continue to attend Cabinet meetings. But this means his position in Cabinet is less safe, as not all ministers are in Cabinet.
Given Truss’ opposition to Scottish independence, it is no surprise that Alister Jack has retained the post of Secretary of State for Scotland. Although he was aligned with Johnson, his key role in opposing another Scottish independence referendum has likely allowed him to stay on.
Another Minister to keep his role is Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace. The Telegraph reports that he had previously worked with Truss, when she was Foreign Secretary, in developing the UK’s response to the war in Ukraine.
Overall, Truss’ Cabinet, while more diverse than previous ones, may prove to be less politically diverse, with power concentrated in the hands of Ministers who are in right-wing party factions.
You can read all our reports on the Conservative leadership race here.
Stuart Jeffery is a freelance researcher & digital editor for 6 News. His views on personal social media pages are his & his only, and do not reflect the views of 6 News or our journalists. He abides by 6 News' editorial standards relating to fairness & accuracy.
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