Boris Johnson always avoids that he can accelerate decisions or give upsets, even if it is to his political rivals. Or avoided it, until now. As he heads towards the middle of his term, a poorly finished Brexit and a devastating pandemic have stopped the main electoral promise of the charismatic conservative politician in his tracks: to redistribute wealth throughout the country and consolidate the support of all Labor voters who gambled. by him in December 2019. The intense reshuffle of Government imposed this Wednesday by Johnson pursues an image of purification and refreshment.
It gets rid of some of the ministers with the worst image, such as Dominic Raab, who left the Foreign Ministry after the Afghanistan fiasco, or Gavin Williamson, responsible for a disastrous management at the head of Education. And it promotes two key figures at the helm of two strategic ministries. Michael Gove, one of the most astute and decisive politicians of the Conservative Party, will stop directing the Prime Minister’s Cabinet to take charge of Housing and Local Communities. This implies money and projects to satisfy all the constituencies in the north of England whose support Johnson wants to secure. And Liz Truss, the hitherto Minister of International Trade, becomes the new Foreign Minister. One of the women most loved by tories, that at the head of his department has been closing trade agreements with other countries. The last, with Australia. Small victories for his boss, who could thus defend the promised advantages of leaving the EU. The arrival of Truss at the forefront of British diplomacy consolidates the idea pursued by the prime minister of a Global Britain (Global Britain) able to freely establish new links with the rest of the world.
Downing Street has tried to sell the remodeling of the Government -changes of this dimension always confirm the suspicion that something was not working- with the message that it was pursued “to form a strong and united team, to rebuild better [el país] after the pandemic, ”according to a spokesperson for Johnson’s team. The prime minister, who has missed much of his popularity in the past year, needs to attend the Conservative Party’s next annual congress, in early October in Manchester, with some pieces to deliver.
Williamson was an announced casualty. His continuous mistakes at the head of Education – especially the sloppy solution he offered for the selectivity exams, in the midst of the pandemic – roused teachers, parents, students and conservative deputies. The biggest surprise, due to the relevance of the position and the political weight of the character, has been the removal of Raab from the Foreign Office. A Brexit advocate from the start, pampered for years by the hard-line conservatives, and even Johnson’s rival in the party’s primaries, his erratic handling of the Afghanistan crisis has thrown him out of favor. Especially his reluctance to abandon his Crete vacation during the first days of chaos in Kabul.
Johnson has wanted to console his irritation with a relevant double position: Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister. In British politics, Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t mean much. It was relevant when the role was occupied by the Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, whose party held the coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives. In the case of Raab, the prime minister has allowed him, to save face, to maintain a consolation position that he already held since April 2020, when Johnson was admitted to the ICU for coronavirus and a possible replacement was quickly sought. The minister then maintained impeccable loyalty that has now been rewarded. At the expense of Robert Buckland, the Minister of Justice who has been deposed, despite the fact that he had the congratulations of his fellow MPs and the legal world.
Raab is a lawyer, and at the time he specialized in humanitarian causes, but he has been received with suspicion, because he is the eighth Minister of Justice in 10 years. The bloc opposition has charged against his appointment. “There is not the least justice in this promotion. Raab is the latest member of this conservative government to be rewarded for his failure. After his catastrophic handling of the crisis in Afghanistan, he should be out of the Executive, ”said Wera Hobhouse, the justice spokeswoman for the Liberal Democratic Party.
Brexit and the red wall
The two appointments that embody Johnson’s strategy for the remainder of his term are those of Liz Truss and Michael Gove. The policy that the Secretary of State for International Trade has carried out until now is at number one on the list of favorites of conservative militants. She is hard-working, loyal to the prime minister, and has managed to close new trade deals. Agreements viewed with great suspicion by the UK agricultural or livestock industry, due to the competition they entail, but which are the delight of all Brexit advocates who promised a bright future after getting rid of the “EU chains”.
By placing Gove in charge of Housing and Local Administrations, Johnson instructs his most devious political agent to, once and for all, put into motion the great electoral promise of territorially distributing wealth, to consolidate the electoral support that the “wall red ”(the north and center of England) gave him almost two years ago. “He will assume inter-ministerial responsibility for rebalancing the regions, and will also retain his mission of preserving the Union,” says the Downing Street note confirming the appointment. Gove has been key in the response strategy to the Scottish independence challenge.
Two designations have special coloring in all the entrances and exits of politicians. Baghdad-born Nadhim Zahawi has been responsible for one of the Johnson administration’s greatest successes: the vaccination program. From now on, he will be the new Minister of Education. And Nadine Dorries, controversial writer, outspoken MP, participant in some reality TV contest, staunch defender of Brexit and Johnson, will be the new Culture Minister, replacing Oliver Dowden. Bets are already circulating on how long it will take Dorries to have his first confrontation with the world of the arts.