‘Boris wields the axe’: what the UK papers say about Johnson’s ruthless reshuffle

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Watch: Boris Johnson's reshuffle: How does his Cabinet look?

The Boris Johnson’s ruthless reshuffle, which has been compared to Margaret Thatcher’s 1981 “purge of the wets” – appears across Thursday morning’s front pages.

The Guardian headline reads “PM’s ruthless reshuffle lays ground for next election”, and details how education secretary Gavin Williamson and foreign secretary Dominic Raab were the highest-profile victims. 

It says Williamson had been widely expected to be offered an alternative role but was instead dispatched straight to the backbenches. Raab who moves to justice, has been replaced by Liz Truss, champion of free markets. Michael Gove emerged as housing and local government chief where he will take the key job of making “levelling up” a reality for sceptical voters.

The Daily Telegraph goes to the point “Raab and Gove lose out as Truss promoted”. It reports that the reshuffle was “more extensive than expected”. “Mrs Truss’s promotion, becoming the Tories’ first female foreign secretary, leaves her well positioned should she one day seek the leadership,” the paper reports.

The Times’ headline is “Johnson wields axe in cabinet reshuffle” in what it calls “an attempt to refocus his premiership beyond the pandemic”. It reports that “unlike most ministers in the reshuffle Gove was sounded out first by Johnson about his new role”.

The FT’s take is that the reshuffle was to “revive faith in reform agenda” and “revive Britain’s standing on the world stage”.

The Daily Mail had apparently been hoping for this for some time. Its headline is “At last, Boris wields the axe”. It brands Dorries and Truss the “new queens of the jungle” and calls the reshuffle “brutal”. It describes Raab’s removal as a “humiliating demotion” and says he was “savaged”.

The i’s headline is “Johnson sacks blundering Cabinet allies”. It reports that an “angry” Raab refused to accept demotion until Johnson threw in the title of deputy prime minister as well.

The Daily Express is characteristically subtle, with “PM’s ruthless cull to deliver Britain’s future”. Its strapline above the main headline reads: “In his biggest shake-up yet Boris vows to ‘unite and level up the whole country’”.

In Scotland, The National describes Johnson as using the reshuffle to “demote key figures and ‘reward failure’” – the SNP’s words.

The Daily Mirror’s front page is focused on climate change, with a small spot for Johnson’s “Cabinet clear-out”.

Metro says it is “time to go away and shut up… or take a foreign holiday”.

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