Reshuffle continues as Boris Johnson makes statement on US, UK and Australia military partnership – live

Posted by on September 16, 2021 5:35 am
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Categories: Global Stories

Latest updates: Boris Johnson expected to continue reshuffling junior ministers as new cabinet begins work

10.33am BST

Boris Johnson is now making a Commons statement about the new US/UK/Australia military partnership.

Here is our overnight story about the announcement.

Related: US, UK and Australia forge military alliance to counter China

10.31am BST

Here is my colleague Jessica Elgot’s analysis of yesterday’s reshuffle.

Related: Reshuffle compared to Margaret Thatcher’s 1981 ‘purge of the wets’

Whitehall sources said the casualties were intended to put his ministers on notice about the prime minister’s strength of position. Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, lost his job despite no discernible wrongdoing. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, was unceremoniously fired despite fears he could be a threat on the backbenches. One government source said all ministers “would know they are dispensable”.

One Tory compared the reshuffle to Margaret Thatcher’s 1981 “purge of the wets” – a brutal show of authority after 18 months of rebellions and U-turns. “Boris has shown people he’s in charge,” they said. “People won’t mess around now. Anyone can get chopped.”

Rather, the performance of ministers shows up, by and large, in where the members place them. At any rate, the government’s spin on the shuffle this morning is that the new cabinet is stronger than the old one, and so better placed to build back better and level up Britain.

This is true as far as it goes. Michael Gove is a more formidable politician than Robert Jenrick; Nadhim Zahawi a more capable executive than Gavin Williamson, Oliver Dowden a more experienced manager than Amanda Milling.

While other changes may generate more headlines, the key move is the appointment of Michael Gove as communities and housing secretary with a particular focus on the levelling-up agenda. Whatever criticisms are made of Gove’s politics, he is seen by Johnson as an effective and forceful minister who is more likely than most to turn what has heretofore been a nebulous slogan into a detailed strategy. Gove has become Johnson’s go-to minister for major strategic challenges and his appointment signals the prime minister’s concern that the huge expectations he has stoked need to be turned into visible delivery.

What’s harder to divine is any one strong political ideology, or any radical guiding idea. Certainly, politicians popular with the Tory party like Truss seem to have prospered. Loyalty to the prime minister himself seems to have been rewarded.

But it’s not a Brexit cabinet, or a small-state cabinet, or to use Tory verbiage, a “one-nation” cabinet for those more in the middle.

This was a prime minister today who, in the words of one of his colleagues, was “cordial but clinical”. “It was a butcher’s yard.”

There’s no doubt his success in driving the health and social care tax levy through the backbenches has emboldened the prime minister but he knows all too well that shuffling the deck always carries risk as the swell of discontent grows.

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