2021-09-15 14:17:58 Boris Johnson Set to Reshuffle U.K. Cabinet

Boris Johnson Set to Reshuffle U.K. Cabinet

LONDON: The British government announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would begin a long-awaited cabinet shake-up on Wednesday, in an effort to revitalize a government whose popularity appears to be dwindling.

In recent weeks, much speculation about cabinet changes has centered on Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, whose position has been deemed precarious following widespread criticism of his handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan. His standing was harmed further by his decision to postpone his return from vacation as the Taliban took control of Kabul.

In a statement, Downing Street confirmed the reshuffle but gave no further details. “The Prime Minister will conduct a reshuffle today to put in place a strong and united team to rebuild better after the pandemic,” a spokesman said.

A reshuffle would give Mr. Johnson the opportunity to reshape his government’s top echelons ahead of a party conference next month, where he will try to provide a clearer post-Covid policy agenda. However, with coronavirus case numbers still high, the government is bracing for an increase in hospitalizations in the fall and winter.

On Tuesday, Mr. Johnson outlined his plans for combating the virus as winter approaches, stating that Britain would provide vaccine booster shots to people over the age of 50, as well as first shots to children aged 12 to 15. His government is determined to avoid another lockdown, but if infections rise, he may have to resort to measures such as mask mandates.

Mr. Johnson’s Conservatives surged in opinion polls after a successful start to Britain’s vaccine program earlier this year, but that lead now appears to be evaporating. Mr. Johnson took a risk last week by breaking an election promise not to raise taxes in order to devote more funds to health and social care.

His detractors have also complained about a lack of clarity regarding the government’s main domestic promise of “leveling up,” which means bringing prosperity to economically disadvantaged areas.

Senior ministers who have faced criticism include education secretary Gavin Williamson, home secretary Priti Patel, whose department is in charge of policing and immigration, and housing, communities, and local government secretary Robert Jenrick.

But, until now, Mr. Johnson has been hesitant to move or fire members of a top team that was assembled largely from his own supporters and advocates of Brexit, which he has championed.

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Boris Johnson Set to Reshuffle U.K. Cabinet