Government Cabinet Reshuffle 2020

Cabinet Reshuffle


Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered his much-anticipated post-Brexit Government cabinet reshuffle. It saw the departure of many prominent ministers, some expected whilst others were perhaps a little surprising and one was very unexpected. The cabinet reshuffle sent a clear message overall that Johnson will only enter post-Brexit negotiations with ministers loyal to his party whip, by his side. Some of the more headlining departures and promotions have been listed below.

Perhaps the most unexpected news came from Sajid Javid. Whilst the he was given the option to stay as Chancellor the offer came with some painful conditions including the loss of all the political advisors in the Treasury After a long meeting in No.10, Javid finally turned down the offer and resigned and is believed to have said, ‘no self-respecting minister would accept those terms’ and refused to give in to Johnson’s demands.

Javid has been replaced by Rishi Sunak, former Chief Secretary of the Treasury, and also favoured by the Johnson’s chief adviser Cummings. It would be interesting to see how he will deliver on the budget with less than three weeks to go. It is widely believed that the appointment of Sunak was a move by No.10 to take back control of the Treasury. The move to create No.10 Treasury advisors is interesting, it can be seen as part of a move which includes switching Spads in other departments too, breaking the links with ministers and quietly drawing more power to No.10.

In delicate times for Northern Ireland and only after a few months into his position, Boris Johnson sacked Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith. The firing of Smith has been perceived as hugely unpopular and was met with shock by Northern Ireland’s political sphere. SDLP leader Eastwood expressed his disappointment with Johnson’s decision to “sack the most successful secretary of state in a decade”. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP tweeted; “Spoke with @JulianSmithUK a short time ago to thank him for his help in getting devolution restored. We may not have always agreed (we did sometimes) but his dedication to the role was incredible. Best wishes to him and his family. Always welcome in Fermanagh.”

Smith’s sacking is believed to be linked to his comments at the height of the Brexit tensions last autumn, when he told MPs that no deal would be “very, very bad” for NI. Indeed, Smith and Johnson have never seen eye to eye on Brexit and other Northern Ireland matters. Johnson’s decision to sack Smith serves as a reminder that Number 10 places the highest price on loyalty and a willingness to adhere to party lines.

Brandon Lewis has been confirmed as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This has served as an interesting choice as he comes into the role with an advantage some of his predecessors did not have – devolution is restored at Stormont. However, Lewis is still expected to face challenges in his new role as the newly returned Northern Ireland Executive begins to implement some of the pledges and commitments made by the parties and UK and Irish governments in the New Decade, New Approach deal.

Esther McVey was also relieved from her duties as Housing Minister. The sacking of McVey, however, does not come as a surprise. Various sources have reported internals clashes in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Moreover, McVey, who declared herself in favour of more council housing, whereas Jenrick favoured a direction more towards home ownership.

McVey cleared the ranks for Christopher Pincher, who replaced her as Housing Minister. Pincher who is the MP for Tamworth, has become the tenth housing minister in the last decade, continuing the seemingly endless revolving door associated with the role. Pincher comes as a curious appointment as he joins as a former Minister of State for Europe and the Americas and the deputy chief whip. He tweeted, “This Government will deliver on our commitment to build the housing that people need. Looking forward to getting stuck in alongside @RobertJenrick”. It will be interesting to see what changes he will bring about to the MHCLG.

Others, such as Universities minister Chris Skidmore and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, were sacked supposedly for lacking dynamism. Skidmore described his sacking in a tweet as a “promotion to be better dad”, While Villiers said she was “sad” to have been removed from her post. Former farming minster George Eustice has been promoted to fill Villiers’ post, becoming the tenth DEFRA Secretary. He is expected to bring fresh wind in a department that will play a critical role in the post-Brexit trade negotiations.

Below is a list which summarises Thursday’s major cabinet reshuffle.


  1. Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor. He was replaced by Rishi Sunak.
  2. Nicky Morgan resigned as Culture Secretary. He was replaced by Oliver Dowden.


  1. Julian Smith was sacked from his position as Northern Ireland Secretary. Replaced by Brandon Lewis.
  2. Andrea Leadsom was sacked from her position as Business Secretary. Replaced by Alok Sharma.
  3. Theresa Villiers was sacked from her position as Environment Secretary. Replaced by George Eustice.
  4. Geoffrey Cox was sacked from his position as Attorney General. Replaced by Suella Braverman.
  5. Esther McVey was sacked from her position as Housing Minister. Replaced by Christopher Pincher.
  6. Chris Skidmore was sacked from his position as Universities Minister. Replaced by Michelle Donelan.
  7. Both Nusrat Ghani and George Freeman were sacked as Transport Ministers.


  1. Priti Patel stays on as Home Secretary.
  2. Dominic Raab stays on as Foreign Secretary.
  3. Robert Buckland stays on as Justice Secretary.
  4. Liz Truss stays on as Trade Secretary.
  5. Robert Buckland stays on as Health Secretary.
  6. Robert Jenrick stays on as Secretary for MHCLG.
  7. Ben Wallace stays on as Defence Secretary.
  8. Gavin Williamson stays on as Education Secretary.
  9. Grant Shapps stays on as Transport Secretary.
  10. Alister Jack stays on as Scottish Secretary.
  11. Simon Hart stays on as Welsh Secretary.

If you would like to discuss the cabinet reshuffle further please contact Liam Herbert