British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday demoted his foreign secretary in a major reshuffle, removing his more under-fire colleagues to refocus the government on raising living standards after covid-19.
After months of criticism of several of his top team for missteps and gaffes, Johnson finally started a process some say he wanted to do many weeks earlier, to make the changes he feels he needs to press on with his "levelling up" agenda.
Johnson has made tackling regional inequality a priority, part of an agenda set in 2019 when he won the biggest Conservative Party parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher but which has been eclipsed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dominic Raab, who has faced calls to resign since he went on holiday in Crete as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital, Kabul, lost one of the so-called great offices of state in the foreign office to become justice minister.
To soften the blow, Raab was also appointed deputy prime minister, a role he played in all but name when he stepped in to lead government when Johnson was fighting for his life in hospital with Covid last year.
Liz Truss was promoted from trade to the foreign office, becoming only the second woman to hold the position in Britain. Michael Gove, seen as a key player in the Johnson government, was moved to housing from his position in the cabinet office, a department at the centre of government which drives the implementation of policy.
Raab's and Gove's moves followed the sackings of three others: Gavin Williamson as education minister, Robert Buckland as justice minister and Robert Jenrick as the housing minister.
Critics accused Johnson of choosing Wednesday to overshadow the opposition Labour Party's planned vote in parliament on the government's decision to scrap extra support for low-income families. But some Conservative lawmakers said it had been simply long overdue.