The Sunak Cabinet: 26 October 2022
By Atticus Partners
After an “Afternoon of the Long Knives”, Rishi Sunak has appointed his new Cabinet. You can find a list of the appointments below, as well as our take on Sunak’s approach to forming a new Government and what comes next.
- Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP re-appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP as Deputy Prime Minister,
Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice
- Rt Hon Simon Hart MP as Parliamentary Secretary
to the Treasury (Chief Whip)
- Rt Hon James Cleverly MP re-appointed as
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
- Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP re-appointed as Secretary of State for Defence
- Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP as Minister without Portfolio, Chair of the Conservative Party
- Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP as Secretary of State for the Home Department
- Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP re-appointed as Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the House of Commons
- Gillian Keegan MP as Secretary of State for Education
- Rt Hon Mel Stride MP as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
- Rt Hon Michael Gove MP as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations
- Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP re-appointed as Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade. She also becomes Minister for Women and Equalities
- Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP re-appointed as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP re-appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
- Rt Hon Alister Jack MP re-appointed as Secretary of State for Scotland
- David TC Davies MP as Secretary of State for Wales
- Rt Hon Lord True CBE reappointed as Lord Privy Seal, and Leader of the House of Lords
- Victoria Prentis MP as Attorney General
- Rt Hon Mark Harper MP as Secretary of State for Transport
A high percentage of cabinet ministers kept their positions or returned to work in their prior positions, signalling that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is intent on forming a “unity Cabinet” to quell dissent within the Conservative ranks.
The Prime Minister unsurprisingly gifted appointments to his closest political allies who had supported him throughout the previous leadership contest even after it became evident that he would lose to Liz Truss. The list includes Dominic Raab, who is back in his previous roles as Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary under the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Long-time ally Simon Hart will take over as chief whip, managing MPs and maintaining discipline within an unsettled parliamentary party.
Ten members of Truss's cabinet, including Chief Whip Wendy Morton and Secretaries of State Kit Malthouse (Education), Chloe Smith (Work and Pensions) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), either jumped ship or were pushed. Surprisingly, Suella Braverman was reappointed as Home Secretary despite being dismissed for a security breach only a few days earlier. As a means of signalling to the right of the Party that this was a ‘unity Cabinet’, many contend that other appointments would have been wiser than Braverman, who is a controversial figure in the eyes of the public.
The stability in three of the top positions, Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor, James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary, and Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary, is another noteworthy aspect of this reorganisation. Sunak wants to reassure both Parliament and the markets that he can deliver stability, especially in light of the recent fiscal event and the conflict in Ukraine which continues to destabilise the continent.
The Prime Minister was resolved not to make the same error as Truss. While his predecessor undoubtedly created a Cabinet of loyalists to enact a bold agenda, Sunak is bringing in outsiders with independent views and agendas. One clear example of this is the return of Michael Gove to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in a clear nod to the party’s 2019 manifesto.
The Prime Minister has a challenging inbox. There may be a return to austerity as the Chancellor and Prime Minister have discussed the necessity for "difficult decisions” to balance the nation’s finances. The Prime Minister finds this politically challenging since he will be unable to separate himself from the effects of the decisions he made as Chancellor. At a time when the Conservatives are already unpopular and have been widely mocked for U-turns, this is a difficult position for the new Prime Minister.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, suggested this morning that Rishi Sunak could postpone the release of the government's medium-term budget plan over the initially planned date of October 31. The Foreign Secretary stated that the Chancellor, and the Prime Minister will "want to take some time to work on the detail." However, as investors reacted favourably to Sunak as Prime Minister, gilt rates rose to levels last seen before Truss's contentious "mini" Budget in September. The 30-year gilt yield decreased to 3.67%, signalling a sigh of relief for both financiers and pension funds after a period of heavy turbulence.
Given their current situation, the Conservatives are unlikely to call a general election on their own. Instead, they will likely focus on strengthening their Red Wall stances and party unity until they are compelled to face a general election in two years. Until then, Sunak needs to focus on getting the country – and his party – through the winter months and the challenges ahead.