British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began reshuffling his cabinet of senior ministers on Wednesday, as the government hopes to redivert attention on raising living standards after the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic.
Emerging from the biggest Conservative Party parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher in 2019, Johnson made tackling regional inequality a priority for his government. But with the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic, attention shifted.
Seeming like the time when the clouds have cleared a little after months of criticism of several of his cabinet team for gaffes and missteps, Johnson hopes to begin efforts to walking back to his blueprint.
He said on Wednesday that he feels he needs to press on with his “levelling up” agenda.
“We know the public also wants us to deliver on their priorities, and that’s why the prime minister wants to ensure we have the right team in place for that,” Johnson’s spokesman said.
A source in Johnson’s office said he would be appointing ministers “with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.”
Gavin Williamson, Education Minister, was the first to go after being criticised over handling of school closures and exams during the COVID pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is also tipped to be moved from his role.
Johnson has faced calls to sack Raab after the foreign minister went on holiday in Crete as the Taliban advanced on Kabul and amid claims that thousands of emails from people seeking help to leave Afghanistan had gone unread.
Meanwhile, critics have accused Johnson of choosing Wednesday for the reshuffle as an attempt to overshadow the opposition Labour Party’s plan to vote in parliament on the government’s decision to scrap extra support for low income families put in place during the pandemic, a move some of his own lawmakers have expressed concern about.