Britain’s Prime Minister-elect Liz Truss will spend Monday putting finishing touches to her new cabinet after being elected Conservative Party leader and is expected to unleash a complete shake up of outgoing leader Boris Johnson’s top team.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who lost the vote 57-43 per cent, said he was ‘proud’ of the campaign he ran and indicated once again that he did not plan to serve in a Truss-led Cabinet if offered a job.
“It’s a real privilege to have the job that I’ve had, to have been chancellor at a time of enormous difficulty for our country and I am proud of my record as chancellor, helping safeguard our economy through the biggest [pandemic] shock it experienced in something like 300 years,” he told the BBC in an interview after the election result.
“I’m now going to be focussed on supporting my constituents first and foremost in North Yorkshire and continuing to be their member of Parliament as long as they’ll have me and giving Liz Truss my full support as the new Conservative government gets on with grappling with the challenges ahead of us now,” the British Indian former minister said, responding to questions about his future plans.
Truss will take formal charge as the United Kingdom’s third female Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday late afternoon after an audience with the Queen in Scotland.
Following an inaugural speech to set the tone for her government, the announcements of the key ministerial portfolios are expected to start pouring in by Tuesday evening.
Attorney General Suella Braverman is likely to be the only Indian-origin MP in the Liz Truss cabinet, as the Goan-origin former leadership contender is expected to be promoted to replace Priti Patel as home secretary.
The 42-year-old Cabinet minister had thrown her weight behind 47-year-old Truss after being knocked out in the second round of ballots of fellow Tory MPs in mid-July and called on her supporters to follow suit.
After enjoying a prominent role in the Johnson cabinet as one of his close allies, Indian-origin Patel is believed to be headed to the backbenches.
Among the other key posts in the new Cabinet, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng — a close ally — is being lined up as Chancellor of Exchequer and Education Secretary James Cleverly is to be promoted to take over Truss’ current portfolio of Foreign Secretary.
Other former leadership hopefuls such as British Pakistani Sajid Javid might be offered Northern Ireland Secretary and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi could be shifted to the role of cabinet office minister.
A handful of incumbent ministers, such as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, are expected to retain their jobs.
Therese Coffey, a close friend of Truss, is expected to replace Steve Barclay as health secretary.
According to UK media reports, besides the cabinet, a widespread change of guard is also due within Downing Street with some of Johnson’s senior-most aides set for an exit or reshuffle.
According to The Times, many of the 40 or so political staff working for the outgoing prime minister are not expected to be retained.
Some of these will be replaced by existing Truss aides such as Jamie Hope, her policy adviser in the Foreign Office, and Adam Jones, her media adviser.
Other roles are expected to stay vacant as the new prime minister reduces the size of the Downing Street operation in an effort to set an example across government quarters.
One Conservative Party source told the newspaper there was going to be a ‘bonfire of special advisers and officials in Downing Street’.
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