Raab demoted, three Cabinet ministers sacked as Johnson wields the axe

Dominic Raab was moved from foreign secretary to the Ministry of Justice but also picks up the title of Deputy PM.

Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab

Boris Johnson has demoted Dominic Raab and sacked three Cabinet ministers in a dramatic reshuffle.

Mr Raab has been given the title of Deputy Prime Minister and moved to the Ministry of Justice after being ousted from the Foreign Office.

His demotion comes after being heavily criticised for the Afghanistan debacle while foreign secretary.

The title Deputy Prime Minister formalises a role he performed as first secretary of state when he stood in for Mr Johnson while the Prime Minister was in hospital with coronavirus.

Mr Raab accepted the new role following lengthy talks with Mr Johnson in the Prime Minister’s Commons office.

While Mr Raab retains his seat at the Cabinet table, the Prime Minister sacked Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and Robert Buckland.

Downing Street confirmed Mr Williamson had been sacked by the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon, with the same fate being met for Mr Buckland as justice secretary and Mr Jenrick from housing.

The Prime Minister was carrying out a long-awaited shake-up of his top team with plans to put in place a “strong and united” Cabinet following the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Williamson was one of the ministers deemed most at risk of being told to return to the back benches, particularly due to his handling of the exams fiasco during the Covid-19 crisis.

He announced his exit by saying “it has been a privilege to serve as education secretary since 2019”, adding that he will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government.

After receiving the axe, Mr Jenrick pledged to continue supporting the Prime Minister “in every way I can”.

“I’m deeply proud of all we achieved,” he said, thanking his colleagues at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

His sacking from Mr Johnson’s top team followed controversies including the unlawful approval of a Tory donor’s housing development and his eyebrow-raising journeys during lockdown.

Also to go was Mr Buckland, who said it had been an “honour” to serve in the Government for the last seven years, including the last two as justice secretary and lord chancellor.

“I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure,” he said.

The courts system has been under huge strain during the pandemic, but a specific reason for his departure was unclear.

Sir Bob Neill, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, criticised Mr Buckland’s exit, saying: “You deserved better.”

“You did a first-rate job and, importantly, always stood up for the rule of law and the integrity of the justice system,” Sir Bob added.

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