The Foreign Secretary was moved to Justice Secretary and replaced by promoted minister Liz Truss in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle – while Gavin Williamson, Robert Buckland and Robert Jenrick were all sacked
Dominic Raab has been demoted from Foreign Secretary but clung on at the very top of government as Boris Johnson kicked off his long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Raab, who deputised for the PM when he was in hospital with Covid-19 last year, had been expected to be sacked after staying on holiday as Kabul fell to the Taliban.
But after tense reshuffle talks with Mr Johnson in his Commons office, the Karate black belt was spotted striding into Downing Street – and emerged as a newly-titled Deputy Prime Minister.
While this is similar to his previous job as First Secretary of State, it means Mr Raab is now officially the first Deputy PM to hold the job title since Lib Dem Nick Clegg in 2015.
However, he was also demoted from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary – and was seen sporting a furious scowl as he walked to the door of No10, followed by a forced smile as he left.
He was replaced as Foreign Secretary by free marketeer Tory Liz Truss – who gained her fifth Cabinet job since 2014 and the first in the four ‘great offices of state’ at the top of government.
A Labour source observed Mr Raab had “done a Rayner” – after Angela Rayner put up a similar fight against her own demotion by Keir Starmer, and ended up becoming “Deputy Leader, Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work”.
Under-fire Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was the first casualty of the reshuffle, followed by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Tory Party co-chairwoman Amanda Milling and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.
It comes after a torrid month for the Foreign Secretary, who was blasted for staying on holiday at a five-star Crete resort as Kabul fell to the Taliban.
AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Raab has tried to defend his holiday, insisting he had taken part in meetings including COBRA from his beachside locale – and refusing multiple times to say when his break began.
But he was confronted with a Foreign Office ‘principle risk report’ from July 22 – long before he set off on holiday – highlighting “rapid advances” by the Taliban.
It stated: “Peace talks are stalled and US/NATO withdrawal is resulting in rapid Taliban advances.
“This could lead to the fall of cities, collapse of security forces, Taliban returned to power, mass displacement and significant humanitarian need … The embassy may need to close.”
It took days after Kabul fell to get a Foreign Office diplomatic response team into the city, and Mr Raab admitted many were left behind.
A Foreign Office spokesperson later said: “The Principal Risk Register is a standard monthly report for the management board which does not contain intelligence assessments.
“It is simply wrong and misleading to suggest this document is in any way at odds with our detailed assessments of the situation in Afghanistan or our public position throughout the crisis.”
Mr Raab also clashed privately with Boris Johnson over aid cuts to the world’s poorest nations. He reportedly opposed them in private before having to defend them in public.
But Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said: “Appointing a failed Foreign Secretary who was fired for being missing in action to be the sixth Justice Secretary in six years shows how little this government cares about victims of crime.
“Under this government, the Crown Court backlog has reached a record-high, while the number of rape convictions are at a record-low.
“Victims need a Justice Secretary who is capable of fixing the courts crisis the government created, not one who has been open about his opposition to the fundamental rights and freedoms that the public depends on.”
Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: “There is no justice in this promotion. Raab is the latest member of this Tory Government to be rewarded for failure. After his catastrophic handling of the Afghanistan crisis, he should be out of Government altogether.
“Raab has spent his career attacking the Human Rights Act and trying to undermine our cherished British freedoms. Liberal Democrats will not let him use his new position to roll back our rights.”
It comes after weeks of speculation that the Prime Minister would carry out a long-awaited reshuffle of his top team.
Mr Johnson hauled doomed ministers into his Commons office straight after Prime Minister’s Questions, with the full Cabinet expected to be unveiled later today.
Boris Johnson Cabinet reshuffle
The PM has been keen to regain control of the agenda after the Covid pandemic dominated his first two years in power.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson are thought to be in the firing line due to a series of blunders, while Home Secretary Priti Patel could also be vulnerable.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and International Trade Liz Truss have both been tipped for promotion.