Cabinet Reshuffle: Will It End Government Shambles Post Covid-19?

In recent weeks, some members of the Johnson government have come under fire. Following the criticism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to reshuffle his cabinet. He began the cabinet reshuffle with the removal of five ministers, hoping the government will now focus on improving the living standards of the people after the Covid-19 pandemic. “The government I have appointed today will work tirelessly to unite the whole country,” Boris Johnson tweeted. The shortage of food on the shelves of stores, increased tax rates, homelessness, and joblessness during the Covid-19 and post-Brexit periods have sounded the alarm in this country with only a few months left until Christmas.


Cabinet Reshuffle in Brief

The prime minister announced that income tax, including low-income earners, will increase by about 1.5%. Mr Johnson, who had repeatedly said in his campaign that payroll taxes would not increase, justified this shift in policy with the urgent need to fund the country’s health during Covid-19. Some Conservatives hope that the cabinet reshuffle will reduce public dissatisfaction with the tax increase.

In recent weeks, some members of the Johnson cabinet have come under fire. Following the criticism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to reshuffle his cabinet. The prime minister has not seriously changed his cabinet since winning the elections in December 2019.

Two important changes took place during this period: one in February 2020, when Sajid Javid resigned as Minister of Finance and was replaced by Rishi Sunak, and another in July when Matt Hancock was forced to resign from the Ministry of Health and Sajid Javid returned to the cabinet as the new Minister of Health.

“The government I have appointed today will work tirelessly to unite the whole country,” Boris Johnson tweeted, reiterating his campaign promise to disadvantaged areas in the north of England who voted for Labour candidates in 2019. “We will rebuild better after the pandemic and respond to your priorities,” he added.

“We know that the people want the government to implement their priorities and that is why the prime minister wants to bring the right people to the cabinet to implement these plans,” said a spokesman of the prime minister.

Boris Johnson reshuffled the cabinet with the removal of five ministers, hoping the government would now focus on improving the living standards of the people after the Covid-19 pandemic. These developments come at a time when the results of the latest opinion polls show that the ruling Conservative Party’s popularity has dropped to its lowest level since the general election two years ago.

According to a joint report by the Times of London and the YouGov Institute, Boris Johnson’s popularity has dropped by 5% to 33%. In contrast, the popularity of the main opposition party increased by 1% to 35% for the first time since the beginning of this year (2021).

Dealing with the imbalance in living standards in different parts of the country has been one of the main slogans of Mr Johnson since his election as prime minister in 2019, but the Covid-19 outbreak has delayed the rollout of many of these plans.

Education Minister Gavin Williamson was the first ousted member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet. Covid-19 was the most important issue during Gavin Williamson’s tenure and his actions were strongly influenced by the outbreak. He had been in charge of education since 2019 and was widely criticised for failing to manage the Covid-19 crisis in schools and making contradictory and hostile remarks about two black sportsmen who worked for the children. Under Mr Williamson, education in Britain was unprecedentedly disrupted, and his performance in dealing with the crisis was repeatedly called into question. Kate Green, the shadow education minister, said of Gavin Williamson that he “Failed one of the greatest tests in history.” Williamson, who previously headed the Department of Defence, tweeted that his cooperation with the government during the Covid 19 pandemic was an honour and that he would continue to support the prime minister and his government. Johnson has not considered a position for him in the new cabinet. His removal was followed by that of Justice Minister Robert Buckland and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Robert Jenrick, whose trip outside London made headlines at the height of the Covid-19 restrictions, was fired from the Department of Housing and replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Gove. Housing Minister Robert Jenrick also lost his stance in public opinion months ago because of his active role in proposing a large construction project owned by a conservative-backed financier.

The musical chairs led to the promotion of Nadhim Zahawi, the advising minister in charge of vaccinations. He was appointed as Minister of Education after succeeding in the British immunisation campaign against Covid-19.

Nadhim Zahawi was previously Deputy Minister of Health in charge of Covid-19 vaccinations. Born in Baghdad of Kurdish origin, Mr. Zahawi was previously known as the “Minister of Vaccines.” The high speed of vaccination in the UK and the efficiency of the system that was implemented earned praise for Mr Zahawi’s performance.

Forty-one-year-old Rishi Sunak, the young and popular finance minister praised by the conservative press, has remained in office, the same as Secretary of Defence Ben Wallace.

But Nadine Doris became the new culture secretary, a sensitive position at a time when the government wants to reform the BBC and privatise Channel 4.

Home Secretary Priti Patel also remained in office despite criticism of her inability to reduce the influx of illegal immigrants through the English Channel. Priti Patel was retained in her position contrary to expectations. She is tightening immigration rules these days and recently warned France to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the UK through the English Channel.

Britain agreed to help France with £54 million to curb illegal immigration through the dangerous channel. Under the agreement, a copy of which was published on the British government website, the French agreed to double the number of their agents along the coast and, by purchasing appropriate equipment, increase their area of ​​control to prevent migrant traffic to Britain.

But Patel, dissatisfied with the influx of immigrants through the channel, said: “If the French want to get this money, they have to act. Payment is conditional on the outcome of the work, and we have not yet seen a tangible result”.

As for the FCDO, the British media had speculated that Dominic Robb would lose his post even before the changes took place. Robb has now been appointed deputy prime minister and will continue to serve as justice secretary. For Robb, however, the change is a “demotion.”

Robb: Still in Power?

The 47-year-old foreign minister, a major loser in the British cabinet reshuffle aimed at consolidating ranks for the post-Covid era, must step down and be replaced by 46-year-old Liz Truss, a figure known for her popularity among conservatives. She was in charge of foreign trade. In a strategic position, she is the second woman to hold the post, as Britain seeks to strengthen its position on the international stage after the election.

Dominic Robb has come under fire for his inaction on the Taliban coming to power and staying on holiday in Crete as Kabul fell in August. He then appeared to blame the military for some of the mistakes made in the evacuation operation in Afghanistan, which were carried out with an apparent lack of plans and preparedness, angering many conservatives.

Robb was criticised by the British public opinion as foreign secretary after the Taliban took control of Kabul in Afghanistan. He was on vacation at the time, and opponents say he returned too late. But Johnson appears to be giving him support by appointing him justice secretary and deputy prime minister in the cabinet reshuffle. Robb led the government in the spring of 2020 when Boris Johnson was hospitalised for Covid-19.

From the beginning of Boris Johnson’s premiership, Dominic Robb has always been number two in the cabinet after the head of state. Mr Robb has now been formally appointed deputy prime minister. But in his day job, he will be working as justice secretary.

The BBC’s political secretary, Laura Kuenssberg, says that although a bubble has been created in the name of the deputy prime minister, it is undoubtedly a step down for Dominic Robb.

“I am deeply proud of all the achievements I have made,” Robert Buckland, who was replaced by Dominic Robb in the Justice Department, tweeted. Mr Buckland is leaving the Justice Department as British courts are hearing 58,000 cases.

Robb has been replaced by Liz Truss as the new Foreign Secretary. Ms Truss will continue to head the Ministry of Women and Equality, which has headed since September 2019. Liz Truss, 46, a graduate of philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, joined the British Conservative Party in 1996. As Minister of International Trade, she has already concluded several post-election trade agreements with various countries around the world. Britain must reconsider all trade relations it has already established as a member of the European Union and make new treaties. Ms Truss is the second female foreign secretary in British history after Margaret Beckett under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

People’s Hardships in the Post-Covid-19 Era

A quarter of British citizens are suffering from financial problems due to the outbreak of the Covid-19. One-third of people lost their income in the first week of the quarantines, and one-fifth have serious problems paying their current living expenses. Half of the population also predicts that their financial situation will worsen in the next 12 weeks. According to YouGov polling institute, one in 20 Britons has lost their job due to the pandemic in recent weeks to join the ranks of the unemployed.

Speaking at the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak said the outbreak had left more than four million people homeless, citing huge financial losses due to the crisis. He added that 25% of companies in the UK have ceased operations and that 500,000 companies have resorted to government subsidies to pay their employees. Sunak said that 1.5 million unemployed people have applied for living allowances since the beginning of the quarantine. The Chancellor of the Exchequer described the country’s economic situation as “extremely dire” and warned that the situation could be more difficult than it is.

According to the Standard Life Foundation, 7.9 million British households (28% of the population) have been struggling financially since the outbreak of Covid-19. These include employed people who are temporarily homeless and have lost their income, or are self-employed and lost most of their income. The Standard Living Foundation’s findings also show that half of households in the country are worried about their financial situation during the outbreak, and 7.7 million households expect their incomes to decline in the next three months. One in five households has resorted to using credit cards to pay for essential items.

The BBC has reported on a family with four children between the ages of two and thirteen who are barely able to feed themselves with 30£ a week help from the government. While food prices in the UK have risen sharply since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the British family’s usual diet is 30 eggs for £5 so they can get through the week.

In another survey, the Kantar poll found that one-third of British households said they would need government assistance to survive for the next three months as the current situation continues. The poll also shows that 65% of the population believed that the economic situation will worsen in the next three months.

The shortage of lorry drivers has also become a major problem in Britain these days. Many drivers have become homeless due to the pandemic, and the European workforce is struggling to work in the UK after Brexit.

Under the circumstances, London councils have difficulty collecting waste and incinerate recyclable waste, an action that has provoked strong protests from environmentalists. Peter Andrews, a member of the British Green Party, says that the council’s action is unprecedented and they have taken the easy way out.

A spokesman for the South London borough of Sutton also said that garbage collection services from street litter bins had been suspended due to a shortage of lorry drivers. He stated that this situation has caused serious problems for the council.

Supermarkets and restaurants, as well as supply industries, have been affected by this problem and the cumbersome regulations of Brexit. There is a lack of about 500,000 employees out of the previous 4 million, said Ian Wright, managing director of the Food and Beverage Federation. He attributed part of the problem to the departure of the European workforce following Brexit.

These days, empty store shelves and the removal of some foods from the restaurant menu are becoming more and more prominent. The British Distribution Consortium (BRC) has warned that the situation will get worse from October, when new rules on imports of animal products from the UK take effect.

Jonathan Owens, a procurement and support expert at the University of Salford, says Christmas and New Year specials are on their way to the UK, and many companies are competing to reserve space on ships coming from China, which is still the main source of goods.

Most companies try to adapt to the conditions. The supermarket chain Tesco and e-commerce giant Amazon have no hesitations to promise perks in the UK to attract the drivers or salespersons they need to serve their customers. The British meat industry is considering to work with the temporary release programme of inmates to bring some prisoners into the work cycle.

The combination of these developments, along with rising income taxes to offset the “unpredictable and catastrophic” costs of Covid-19, has pushed the ruling Conservative Party’s popularity to its lowest level since the general election two years ago.

Boris Johnson’s popularity has dropped by 5% to 33%. This is while the popularity of the main opposition party has increased by 1% to 35% for the first time since the beginning of this year (2021).

Johnson unveiled a plan to transform the UK health care system, which will be funded by taxpayers. Under the plan, the share of employee insurance will increase by 1.25% from April 2022 to offset the staggering costs of the pandemic. He hopes to add 12£ billion to government revenue to help owe the National Bank’s heavy debt, which is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The UK economy suffered the most annual damages in nearly three centuries last year (2020) due to the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, shrinking the economy by 9.9% .

The shortage of food on the shelves of British stores due to working conditions during the Covid-19 and post-Brexit periods has sounded the alarm in this country with only a few months left to Christmas. The Guardian wrote this is the worst situation observed in the UK due to shortages of supply and labour affecting retailers.

Steve Murrells, manager of a well-known chain store in the UK (Co-op), said the shortage of food on the shelves was the worst it had seen recently due to a shortage of supplies and workers. “The shortcomings are worse than ever,” Murrells said.

These problems are partly due to post-Brexit laws that have made life and work for EU citizens difficult in the UK. In addition, many employees have been forced to isolate themselves due to exposure to Covid-19. The UK was facing a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers as compared to the pre-pandemic period. The British government, meanwhile, has reduced the number of hours drivers can temporarily work to improve the situation.

Richard Walker, CEO of Iceland Chain Stores, warned British shoppers that Christmas would be affected this year if supply chain issues continued into December. According to the publication, a shortage of chicken has been reported in some British restaurants.

Final Word

The Covid-19 crisis has caused a great deal of unrest in the United Kingdom. Many people have lost their jobs, many have become homeless and many more have become hungry. The government was forced to raise income taxes to compensate for the damage caused by the pandemic, creating a great deal of dissatisfaction. On the other hand, the poor performance of several Boris Johnson cabinet ministers and pressure from opposition political parties and groups forced Boris Johnson to make cabinet changes. People hope that these changes will help improve their living conditions.

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