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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Westminster on high alert for Boris Johnson to reshuffle his top team

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Rumours have been swirling that Boris Johnson (pictured today) will wield the knife before Tory conference

Rumours have been swirling that Boris Johnson (pictured today) will wield the knife before Tory conference

Rumours have been swirling that Boris Johnson (pictured today) will wield the knife before Tory conference

Boris Johnson dramatically declared he will reshuffle his top team today – with Gavin Williamson and Dominic Raab seemingly the first victims.

Downing Street has confirmed frenzied rumours that have been sweeping Westminster about Mr Johnson wielding the knife before Tory conference.

Mr Williamson tweeted this afternoon that he has left the Department for Education, suggesting he is leaving government altogether.

Gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Mr Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench in the Commons during the weekly session. 


Mr Raab – who as First Secretary of State is also effectively deputy PM – was then seen departing the department carrying bags and heading for Parliament. 

Mr Johnson is calling ministers into his House of Commons office to deliver bad news, so that they are not forced to do the ‘walk of shame’ in Downing Street.

Tory party co-chair Amanda Milling and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick were seen apparently heading for the office after PMQs. 

Those who are being promoted or shifted into other briefs will be summoned to No10 later for a more congenial chat with the premier. 

Dominic Cummings took a potshot at the PM by branding it the ‘Carrie Reshuffle’ – but No10 dismissed the idea Mr Johnson’s wife is involved. 


It is the last opportunity for the premier to overhaul his team before the autumn political season goes into another gear. 

He is due to head for New York to attend the UN general assembly next week.

The Labour conference starts soon afterwards – during which there is a long-standing convention that ministers avoid making big announcements.

Cabinet ministers will also need time to prepare speeches for the Conservatives’ own annual gathering in Manchester at the beginning of next month. 

A No10 source said: ‘The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to Build Back Better from the pandemic.


‘Yesterday the PM set out his plan for managing COVID during the autumn and winter.

‘But the government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities. The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.’

A pensive-looking Dominic Raab was spotted leaving the Foreign Office with bags and heading for the House of Commons this afternoon

A pensive-looking Dominic Raab was spotted leaving the Foreign Office with bags and heading for the House of Commons this afternoon

A pensive-looking Dominic Raab was spotted leaving the Foreign Office with bags and heading for the House of Commons this afternoon 

Downing Street has confirmed frenzied rumours that have been sweeping Westminster about Mr Johnson wielding the knife before Tory conference. Gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench at PMQs

Downing Street has confirmed frenzied rumours that have been sweeping Westminster about Mr Johnson wielding the knife before Tory conference. Gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench at PMQs

Downing Street has confirmed frenzied rumours that have been sweeping Westminster about Mr Johnson wielding the knife before Tory conference. Gossip about the fate of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was heightened by his absence from the front bench at PMQs

Mr Johnson holding a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street yesterday, as the government launches its Covid winter plan

Mr Johnson holding a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street yesterday, as the government launches its Covid winter plan

Mr Johnson holding a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street yesterday, as the government launches its Covid winter plan 


Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab

Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (right) and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (left) are among those tipped for moves in the overhaul

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was in Downing Street today as the reshuffle was confirmed - but then went to the Commons to lead for the government on an Opposition Day debate, suggesting she is not on the move

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was in Downing Street today as the reshuffle was confirmed - but then went to the Commons to lead for the government on an Opposition Day debate, suggesting she is not on the move

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was in Downing Street today as the reshuffle was confirmed – but then went to the Commons to lead for the government on an Opposition Day debate, suggesting she is not on the move

Popularity of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak surges among Tory grassroots but support for Dominic Raab plummets

Liz Truss, widely-tipped for a reshuffle promotion, topped the most recent popularity poll of the Tory grassroots. 

The International Trade Secretary was first in Conservative Home’s latest Cabinet league table, with a net satisfaction score of plus 85.2. 

She was more than 10 points clear of Chancellor Rishi Sunak who was in second place with a rating of plus 74.5. 


Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, was third with a score of plus 65.5 with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in fourth with a score of plus 64.2. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid was in fifth with a rating of plus 62.2.

The August survey of Conservative Party members saw Education Secretary Gavin Williamson receive the worst rating at minus 53.5. 

Mr Williamson has been widely-tipped for a reshuffle demotion after a series of gaffes. 

Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, has also been tipped for the sack – she had the second worst net satisfaction rating with minus 16.6. 


Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is also under pressure after he saw his popularity plummet amid the Afghanistan crisis. 

Mr Raab, who also serves as Boris Johnson’s First Secretary of State, was third from top in the previous Cabinet league table on plus 73 but he has now sunk to just plus 6.1.

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Mr Johnson has not made large-scale changes to his team since February last year, when he brutally ejected a slew of big beasts.

They included Sajid Javid, who quit as Chancellor after he was told he could not choose his own political advisers.  

Widespread fear of a reshuffle helped quell a nascent revolt against the brutal £12billion tax rises for the NHS and social care package over the past week.


But up to now it was unclear whether No10 were merely using the threat as leverage, with Mr Johnson having been telling some MPs in recent weeks that he is unlikely to make any changes until next year.

Mr Raab came under heavy fire over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis – when he initially tried to manage the response from a luxury holiday in Crete.

As well as briefing that Mr Raab might be demoted, there has been long-standing sniping at Mr Williamson, regarded by many as having bungled schools and exams during the pandemic.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has also been touted as a possible loser if Mr Johnson does decide to act, although many MPs believe she would be safe.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid only recently replaced Matt Hancock when it emerged he had been having an affair in his office with one of his aides.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak also appears to be fixed in his job, although there were claims recently that Mr Johnson had threatened to put him in the health brief. 

Mr Johnson carried out a minor tweak to his team last week as Attorney General Suella Braverman returned from maternity leave.

Michael Ellis, who had been covering for her, was restored to his previous role as solicitor general while Lucy Frazer returned to being justice minister. 

Liz Truss, widely-tipped for a reshuffle promotion, topped the most recent popularity poll of the Tory grassroots. 

The International Trade Secretary was first in Conservative Home’s latest Cabinet league table, with a net satisfaction score of plus 85.2. 

She was more than 10 points clear of Chancellor Rishi Sunak who was in second place with a rating of plus 74.5. 

Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, was third with a score of plus 65.5 with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in fourth with a score of plus 64.2. 

Mr Javid was in fifth with a rating of plus 62.2.

The August survey of Conservative Party members saw Mr Williamson receive the worst rating at minus 53.5. 

Mr Williamson has been widely-tipped for a reshuffle demotion after a series of gaffes. 

Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, is among those subject to gossip about getting the chop. She had the second worst net satisfaction rating with minus 16.6. 

Mr Raab, who also serves as Boris Johnson’s First Secretary of State, was third from top in the previous Cabinet league table on plus 73 but he has now sunk to just plus 6.1.

As rumour swirled earlier, a Tory MP who is close to the PM told MailOnline: ‘Sackings after PMQs. Cabinet appointments rest of the afternoon. Other changes tomorrow and Friday.’

One Cabinet source said: ‘We are assuming it is happening today.’ Another added: ‘It looks like today after PMQs.’ 

Senior No10 figures fuelled the expectations by ‘going dark’ and failing to respond to messages. 

Source: Daily Mail


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