The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has launched this Wednesday a wide reshuffle of his Executive in which the main movements have been directed to detach or degrade his most unpopular pieces, such as Foreign Ministers, Dominic Raab, and Education, Gavin Williamson
At a time when polls are giving Labor an advantage for the first time since the beginning of the year, Johnson has made a move that had been expected for weeks, on the eve of traveling to the UN General Assembly and the Conservatives hold your annual congress at the beginning of October.
Although much of the executive’s backbone remains, with the heads of Economy (Rishi Sunak), Interior (Priti Patel) or Health (Sayid Javid) still in their posts, the most striking move is the dismissal of the Foreign Office. of Raab, who happens to be in charge of Justice, although with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister.
Raab is a “Brexitero” of the first hour, first rival and then faithful squire of Johnson, who has paid dearly for his disastrous management of the crisis in Afghanistan. As British troops and personnel streamed out of Kabul, Raab was photographed enjoying his vacation in Crete. He could never get over those images.
In his place, the rising star of the moment disembarks, the until now Minister of International Trade, Liz Truss, who at the head of that department has hatched a good number of trade agreements necessary to sustain the British economy after Brexit.
Truss has transcended his role to position himself as an ideological beacon within his own party. It embodies the most neoliberal sector of the conservatives and has been in charge of proudly defending its principles in times of great confusion.
In addition, within the “Global United Kingdom” project that Johnson has turned into one of its emblems after leaving the European Union, the new head of diplomacy will be able to make use of the network of contacts that she has woven in her previous position, especially with countries in Asia and Oceania.
If there was a minister who knew that his days were numbered, that was Gavin Williamson, who at the head of Education has not stopped accumulating unfortunate decisions and blunders. Since his surprise appointment as Defense Minister in 2017 by Theresa May, the still young Williamson has seen doubts about his ability grow among the British, placing him as one of the burdens of Johnson’s Executive.
Instead, the conservative leader turns to another name that is reinforced by his management during the pandemic, the person in charge of the successful vaccination campaign in the country, Nadhim Zahawi.
Nor was the hitherto Minister of Housing and Communities, Robert Jenrick, unaware of the criticism, questioned for his connections with construction entrepreneurs and for some actions. Jenrick leaves the Government and replaces it, in one of the most surprising changes, the Minister of the Cabinet (portfolio similar to the Presidency), Michael Gove, who enjoyed an important specific weight.
This appointment contains the biggest political unknowns of the remodeling. On the one hand, Johnson moves away from the hard core one of the best-known names in the Government, which has been decisive in matters as complicated as negotiations with the European Union or the management of the pandemic.
However, at the same time, he is tasked with executing his territorial cohesion plans, one of the pillars of his program with which he aspires to consolidate the advance of the Conservatives in the north of England, and also maintains him as the main interlocutor with Scotland, which he is pursuing a new independence referendum in less than two years.
Other gambits announced by Downing Street are part of what is expected, such as the replacement of Oliver Dowden at the head of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, who will be replaced by the controversial Nadine Dorries, known mainly as a result of her participation in a reality television program.
The Interior Minister continues
Where the forecasts were not fulfilled was in the continuity of the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, at the head of his department, after his “heavy hand” with immigration and with his own subordinates has been questioned from many sectors.
Patel follows, as does the man everyone sees as Johnson’s future rival for “Tory” leadership, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak.
Johnson is counting on them, but above all on keeping his popularity high among the electorate, to revalidate his power in 2024.