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News | Published December 17 2019

Minor reshuffle results in positions for Morgan and Hart

Following his victory in this month’s general election, Boris Johnson has carried out a minor reshuffle of his Cabinet.

With most of the prominent Cabinet members, such as Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab, keeping their positions, the biggest change is the appointment of Simon Hart as Welsh secretary. 

Hart replaces Alun Cairns who stepped down at the beginning of the election campaign over claims he was aware of a former aide’s attempts to “sabotage” a rape trial.

Many have speculated this limited reshuffle is in advance of bigger changes which are predicted to happen in February. 

Changes are predicted across a number of departments, including the Home Office (Priti Patel), the Department for International Development (Liz Truss) and the Department for Exiting the European Union (Stephen Barclay).

Despite the limited nature of the changes made, this reshuffle has attracted significant criticism, particularly centring around the re-appointment of Nicky Morgan as culture secretary. 

Nicky Morgan announced she would not be standing in last month’s election and is thus no longer an MP.

However, as Johnson has awarded her a life peerage, she will now be sitting in the Lords and can continue as a Cabinet minister. Some have predicted that Morgan will only remain in post until the rumoured February reshuffle.

However, the decision has been met with strong criticism from Opposition parties. Responding to Morgan’s appointment, Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat cultural spokesperson, described Morgan’s appointment as a reward for “sycophancy” and Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff Central, called the decision “absolutely disgraceful.”

Criticism is likely to intensify in the coming days as it is rumoured Zac Goldsmith, who lost his Richmond Park seat in the election, is also to be awarded a life peerage and will continue to sit in Cabinet. 

Goldsmith is an ally of Johnson and is close friends with Carrie Symonds, the prime minister’s girlfriend.

While it is not common for unelected individuals to hold Cabinet positions, it is not without precedent. 

Under Theresa May’s 2017 government, excluding the Leader of the House of Lords, there were no peers in the Cabinet. 

For all ministers more widely, many of whom do not attend Cabinet meetings, 21 per cent came from the House of Lords. This marked a decrease from 23 per cent at the start of the Cameron government but an increase from the beginning of the coalition government where the percentage of ministers stood at 20 per cent.

Under the last Labour government, Gordon Brown appointed two Secretaries of State from the House of Lords: Lord Adonis as Transport Secretary and Lord Mandelson as First Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Since 1979, the number of peers in the Cabinet has been steadily decreasing from a high of three to just one (the Leader of the House of Lords). If rumours are proven true, Johnson would have three peers within his Cabinet including the Leader of the House of Lords. 


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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
@theparlreview
December 17 2019

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