Cabinet Reshuffle: Dominic Raab axed as Foreign Secretary and Gavin Williamson sacked by PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visiting the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Crisis Centre in Whitehall, London, to see how they are supporting and monitoring the ongoing evacuations in Afghanistan. Picture date: Friday August 27, 2021.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been demoted to justice secretary and deputy prime minister. (PA Images)

Dominic Raab has been demoted and education secretary Gavin Williamson is among a number of ministers sacked as Boris Johnson announced a major cabinet reshuffle.

Raab has been handed the role of deputy prime minister and justice secretary – a step down from his former role as foreign secretary, considered one of the four great offices of state.

His vacated position as head of the foreign, commonwealth and development office will be taken up by Liz Truss in a major promotion from her role as international trade secretary.

Nadhim Zahawi was also given a significant promotion, moving from vaccines minister to replace Williamson as education secretary.

Priti Patel will remain as home secretary, and Rishi Sunak will keep his job as chancellor, Downing Street confirmed.

Here are the major winners and losers from today:

  • Raab demoted to justice secretary – but handed role of deputy prime minister

  • Liz Truss promoted to foreign secretary

  • Nadhim Zahawi promoted to education secretary

  • Gavin Williamson sacked as education secretary

  • Home secretary Priti Patel, chancellor Rishi Sunak, and defence secretary Ben Wallace remain in their roles

  • Michael Gove becomes housing secretary

  • Oliver Dowden becomes minister without portfolio

  • Nadine Dorries appointed secretary for digital, culture, media, and sport

  • Steve Barclay becomes chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet office minister

  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan hired as international trade secretary

In the new-look top team, Michael Gove will move from his roles as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister without portfolio to become housing secretary.

Digital, culture, media, and sport secretary Oliver Dowden will be replaced by Nadine Dorries; Dowden will replace Gove as minister without portfolio.

Raab is the first person to hold the official title of deputy PM since Nick Clegg occupied the role in David Cameron's coalition government.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves Downing Street, London, after the government's weekly Cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday September 14, 2021.
Dominic Raab leaving Downing Street. (PA Images)

The MP for Esher and Walton was appointed as foreign secretary in 2019 at the beginning of Johnson's tenure as prime minister, and stood in as the de facto prime minister when the prime minister was intensive care last year after contracting COVID.

He has been subject to intense scrutiny over his handling of the Afghan crisis after it emerged that he was holidaying on the Greek island of Crete as British troops withdrew from the country and Kabul fell to the Taliban.

The first cabinet reshuffle announcement on Wednesday was the departure of education secretary Williamson.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, following a cabinet meeting the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres, work from home if possible and avoid all non-essential contacts and travel in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gavin Williamson has been sacked as education secretary. (PA Images)

Williamson was widely criticised for his strategy for A-Level and GCSE results during the pandemic which caused immense disruption for hundreds of thousands of students.

The largest teaching union in the UK has said it was not sorry to see him go.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “We can’t pretend we are sorry that Gavin Williamson has gone."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson meeting children from Barrow Island primary school making chairs, during a visit to BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, to make an announcement regarding the Dreadnought programme.
Williamson has been fiercely criticised for his management of examination results during the pandemic. (PA Images)

This is the second time Williamson has been fired from cabinet – he was sacked as defence secretary by Theresa May following a leak from a top-level National Security Council meeting over Huawei's access to the UK's 5G network.

Williamson tweeted:"It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019.

"Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.

"This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government."

Zahawi was bumped up to the post of education secretary following his successful management of the vaccine roll out.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi during campaigning with Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey in Kennington, London, whilst on the campaign trail for the London Mayoral election. Picture date: Wednesday May 5, 2021.
Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed education secretary. (PA Images)

The MP for Stratford upon Avon served as the minister for children and families under Theresa May in 2018.

He became minister for industry at the department for business, energy, and industrial strategy in 2019 under Boris Johnson before becoming vaccines minister.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland was shuffled out shortly after Williamson, and Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for housing and communities, was the third to be sacked.

Amanda Milling also lost her jobs as Conservative Party co-chair.

Robert Buckland MP seen during the interview outside the BBC before appearing on the Andrew Marr Show at Broadcasting House. (Photo by Phil Lewis / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Robert Buckland has been sacked as justice secretary. (PA Images)
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outside BBC Broadcasting House, London, before his appearance on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr show. Picture date: Sunday July 4, 2021.
Robert Jenrick has been sacked as housing secretary. (PA Images)

Buckland was appointed lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice in 2019 at the beginning of Johnson's term.

"It has been an honour to serve in Government for the last 7 years, and as the Lord Chancellor for the last 2," he tweeted this afternoon.

"I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure."

Jenrick came under fire last year when it emerged he approved a large property scheme involving a billionaire Conservative donor.

He insisted "rules were followed" – but Labour described it as "apparent cash for favours."

The sackings come after days of speculation that a reshuffle was on the cards.

For the first time since the 2019 election, some opinion polls have begun to place Labour ahead of the Conservatives as the party wrestles with the fallout from tax hikes to national insurance and cuts to Universal Credit.