Rishi Sunak To Announce Cabinet Reshuffle As Troubles Mount

Prime minister considering major changes to government departments as Tory right pushes for tax cuts.
Rishi Sunak during a Q&A session at Teesside University in Darlington.
Rishi Sunak during a Q&A session at Teesside University in Darlington.
Oli Scarff via PA Wire/PA Images

Rishi Sunak is set to announce a reshuffle of his cabinet on Tuesday in what could be interpreted as a reset a little over 100 days into his premiership.

Reports suggest the prime minister is also considering major changes to government departments as part of the overhaul.

It comes almost a week after Sunak sacked Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi over his tax affairs, and an investigation into alleged bullying by deputy prime minister Dominic Raab continues.

Meanwhile, the ghosts of his two predecessors – Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – loom large as he faces pressure from the Tory right to cut taxes in next month’s budget.

The reshuffle was reported by the Times, the Sun and the Telegraph.

The government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy could be broken up to “reflect Sunak’s priorities”, Times reporter Steven Swinford said on Twitter, adding that its Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport could also see a revamp.

A reconfiguration would affect the composition of the cabinet, raising questions over the future of business secretary Grant Shapps and international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch.

Raab is expected to survive, as Sunak has indicated he would wait for the outcome of an inquiry into his deputy’s conduct before taking any action.

Raab, who is also the justice secretary, is being investigated by senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC over bullying allegations – with dozens of officials thought to be involved in eight formal complaints. Raab has denied the bullying allegations.

Cabinet ministers thought to be under consideration to succeed Zahawi include Shapps, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and trade minister Greg Hands.

The prime minister – who promised to govern govern with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” – sacked Zahawi after an investigation by Sir Laurie Magnus, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, concluded that he had breached the ministerial code by failing to be transparent about the multimillion-pound settlement with HM Revenue & Customs reached while he was chancellor, which included paying a penalty.

On Monday, Downing Street said Sunak would always listen to former PMs when questioned about Truss’s return to the fray.

But No 10 also appeared to rebuff Truss’s suggestion that the UK’s “fiscal policy is in a straitjacket” and that a “worrying economic consensus” is threatening growth.

On Friday, Johnson threw his weight behind calls for tax cuts to kickstart growth and boost the Tories’ chances of winning the next general election.

The former prime minister said he had “no doubt” the government would start to get the tax burden down “when the time comes” and would reap the reward at the ballot box.

Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt have been resisting demands from some Tory MPs to cut taxes in the budget, insisting they have to get inflation down first.

The Tory poll rating has barely moved since Sunak took over after Truss’s disastrous 49-day spell, with Labour frequently ahead by 20-points or more.


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