5 Controversial Things You Probably Didn't Know The New Cabinet Once Said

Just in case you thought Liz Truss' "pork markets" clip was the main highlight from our new government.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Suella Braverman are both in Liz Truss' cabinet
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Suella Braverman are both in Liz Truss' cabinet

Liz Truss’ new cabinet certainly has interesting past when it comes to revealing their thoughts on difficult subjects.

The new prime minister has completely reshuffled the Conservative cabinet since she won the leadership election at the start of September.

Truss herself is known for certain public speeches – she went viral for becoming passionate over the “disgrace” of the UK’s cheese imports and excitedly pushed to open new pork markets – but she has also made rather outlandish claims in recent months.

She refused to say whether French president Emmanuel Macron was a “friend or foe”, and a leaked recording from 2019 revealed her claiming UK workers lack “graft”.

However, it seems out her new colleagues might be able to give her a run for her money when it comes to making an unfortunate PR blunder – here are just the top five from her new cabinet appointments.

1. British Empire was, on the whole, ‘a force for good’

Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Who: Suella Braverman, now home secretary

When: Braverman made the eyebrow-raising remarks only in May this year during an interview with The Times.

While describing herself as a “child of the British Empire”, as her father was from Kenya and her mother from Mauritius, she said: “They came to this country with an admiration and gratitude for what Britain did for Mauritius and Kenya, and India, where we have our ancestral origins.

“The British Empire is sometimes seen very negatively and as a source of shame. There’s a trend to start apologising, decolonising, cancelling, erasing that part of our history. And of course, there were some aspects which were bad, but on the whole, I believe the British Empire was a force for good.”

“We’ve also got to remember that Britain ended slavery as well and was a force for abolitionism.”

2. Grenfell fire victims ‘lacked common sense’

Secretary for business, energy and climate change, Jacob Rees-Mogg
Secretary for business, energy and climate change, Jacob Rees-Mogg
Rob Pinney via Getty Images

Who: Jacob Rees-Mogg, now business secretary

When: Back in 2019, when Rees-Mogg was the leader of the House of Commons, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building.

“It just seems the common sense thing to do and it’s such a tragedy that that didn’t happen but I don’t think it’s anything to do with race or class.”

Within hours, Rees-Mogg issued a statement to the Evening Standard, apologising. He explained: “What I meant to say is that I would have also listened to the fire brigade’s advice to stay and wait at the time.

“However, with what we know now and with hindsight I wouldn’t and I don’t think anyone else would.

“I would hate to upset the people of Grenfell if I was unclear in my comments. With hindsight and after reading the report no one would follow that advice. That’s the great tragedy.”

3. ‘Mental health assessments’ for women looking for abortions

Deputy prime minister and health secretary Therese Coffey
Deputy prime minister and health secretary Therese Coffey
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Who: Therese Coffey, new health secretary

When: In 2010, Coffey was a backbencher and introduced a motion in parliament calling for women to get a “mental health assessment” if they wanted an abortion.

Coffey has since said that abortion access in England will continue while she’s in her current role.

In June 2022, when charities raised their concerns about her views on abortion, she told Sky News: “Abortion law isn’t going to change in this country.”

4. Brits are ‘among the worst idlers in the world’

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Who: Kwasi Kwarteng, new chancellor, along with other top Tory MPs

When: Kwarteng contributed to a book in 2012 called Britannia Unchained which labelled the British as “among the worst idlers in the world”. It has since became infamous. He wrote it along with Liz Truss, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab when they were all backbenchers.

Kwarteng has not publicly commented on the book since.

5. Liberal Democrat deputy leader ‘is a dick’

Foreign secretary James Cleverly
Foreign secretary James Cleverly
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Who: James Cleverly, new foreign secretary

When: Cleverly tweeted that then deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats “is a dick” back in 2010. The full tweet read: “We may be coalition partners but it doesn’t stop me thinking Simon Hughes is a dick.”

He also wrote on his blog that Hughes was a “fool” and his idea to give backbenchers a veto on coalitions government’s policies was “bone-headed”.

He was the deputy leader of the London Assembly Conservatives at the time, and the coalition government was marking its 100th day in office. He later apologised.


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