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Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson axed: But what took Boris so long to send them packing?

Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson were humiliated last night as they were ousted from their Cabinet jobs in the reshuffle.

Mr Raab was removed as Foreign Secretary in the wake of his disastrous handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.

The minister was shunted from one of the Great Offices of State to become Justice Secretary.

But in a face-saving move, he was given the title of Deputy Prime Minister following lengthy talks with Boris Johnson in his Commons office yesterday.

Mr Williamson was sacked as Education Secretary after his calamitous tenure saw chaos in schools during the pandemic, including on exams.

Mr Raab was replaced by Liz Truss, who becomes only the second female foreign secretary in history, while Mr Williamson’s job was taken by Nadhim Zahawi. 

Robert Buckland, who had been at the Ministry of Justice, was sent to the backbenches.

Mr Williamson (pictured) was sacked as Education Secretary after his calamitous tenure saw chaos in schools during the pandemic, including on exams

Dominic Raab (pictured left) and Gavin Williamson were humiliated last night as they were ousted from their Cabinet jobs in the reshuffle. Mr Raab was removed as Foreign Secretary in the wake of his disastrous handling of the crisis in Afghanistan. Mr Williamson (pictured right on Tuesday) was sacked as Education Secretary after his calamitous tenure saw chaos in schools during the pandemic, including on exams.

Mr Raab’s demotion comes after he faced a huge backlash over his failure to make a crucial phone call to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan. He was in holiday in Crete (pictured) at the time

Mr Raab’s demotion comes after he faced a huge backlash over his failure to make a crucial phone call to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan. He was in holiday in Crete (pictured) at the time

Mr Williamson came under repeated pressure to resign over the fiasco around grading of GCSE and A-level students amid cancelled exams. Pictured: Library image

Mr Williamson came under repeated pressure to resign over the fiasco around grading of GCSE and A-level students amid cancelled exams. Pictured: Library image

Mr Raab’s demotion comes after he faced a huge backlash over his failure to make a crucial phone call to seek urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan.

The Daily Mail revealed last month that senior officials had advised that he should make immediate contact with Afghan foreign minister Haneef Atmar as the Taliban advanced on Kabul.

But the minister, who was on holiday at a five-star beach resort in Crete, did not make the call and it was delegated to a junior minister – although it never actually ended up taking place.

Afghans who risked their lives by working as translators alongside British soldiers accused him of ‘betrayal’ and warned that his failure could cost lives.

Tory MPs denounced Mr Raab for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ and joined opposition parties in demanding he be removed.

Mr Raab finally flew back from his break after Kabul had already fallen. He has since admitted ‘with hindsight’ he should have come back sooner.

But he insisted it was ‘nonsense’ that he was ‘lounging on a beach or paddleboarding’, claiming the sea ‘wasn’t open’.

Mr Raab accepted his new job yesterday following a tense meeting with Mr Johnson in which he attempted to resist being demoted. 

The Prime Minister eventually agreed to add Deputy Prime Minister to his title to cushion the blow.

Mr Raab accepted his new job yesterday following a tense meeting with Mr Johnson (pictured) in which he attempted to resist being demoted. The Prime Minister eventually agreed to add Deputy Prime Minister to his title to cushion the blow.

Mr Raab accepted his new job yesterday following a tense meeting with Mr Johnson (pictured) in which he attempted to resist being demoted. The Prime Minister eventually agreed to add Deputy Prime Minister to his title to cushion the blow.

It formalises a role he performed as First Secretary of State when he stood in for Mr Johnson while he was in hospital with coronavirus. 

He is the first person to hold the title since Sir Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader.

Mr Williamson earlier became the first confirmed casualty as Mr Johnson began his reshuffle after Prime Minister’s Questions. 

‘It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019,’ he tweeted. 

‘Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led.’

Mr Williamson came under repeated pressure to resign over the fiasco around grading of GCSE and A-level students amid cancelled exams.

Last summer he was forced into a U-turn following protests over the downgrading of thousands of results.

Only last week, he faced further ridicule after he said he had met footballer Marcus Rashford online, when he had instead talked to rugby player Maro Itoje.

Before his tenure at the Department for Education, Mr Williamson became known for a tendency to put his foot in his mouth as defence secretary.

He was sacked from that job in May 2019 following an inquiry into the leak of information from a National Security Council meeting about Chinese telecoms firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G mobile network. 

Mr Williamson denied being the source of the leak.

Last night Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, the largest teaching union in the UK, said: ‘We can’t pretend we are sorry that Gavin Williamson has gone.

Robert Buckland (pictured left on Tuesday), who had been at the Ministry of Justice, was sent to the backbenches

Robert Buckland (pictured left on Tuesday), who had been at the Ministry of Justice, was sent to the backbenches

‘He failed to engage with our suggestions on how to make schools safer during Covid – leading to unnecessary disruption to children and young people’s education.

‘His CO2 monitors won’t arrive until very late this term, his laptops took months to reach the children who needed them and he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into providing for children going hungry during school holidays. 

‘The exam debacle in 2020 and 2021 caused huge stress to parents, students and teachers. Many parents and students will never forgive Williamson for this.’

Labour last night said appointing Mr Raab as Justice Secretary ‘shows how little this Government cares about victims of crime’. 

Justice spokesman 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.

‘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 the public depends on.’

Enter the executioner: Minute by bloody minute, how Boris orchestrated his Cabinet cull on a day of grimaces and stunned smiles… but few tears for fallen colleagues

ByJason Groves Political Editor For The Daily Mailand Harriet Line Chief Political Correspondent For The Daily Mailand Claire Ellicot Political Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Dominic Raab grimaced but said nothing as a reporter shouted at him: ‘Are you going to have more time to spend on holiday?’

Technically, Mr Raab was entering No10 to learn if he was to be reappointed as Foreign Secretary in the reshuffle.

But he already knew his fate, having come straight from a tense meeting with Boris Johnson in which the Prime Minister rejected his plea to keep his job. The walk up the street was purely for show.

To complete the humiliation, he then had to pose for a formal picture for his new role as Justice Secretary.

He did not manage a smile. By contrast, his successor Liz Truss positively beamed as she strode up Downing Street to be appointed as the Tories’ first female Foreign Secretary.

And Nadine Dorries looked stunned in her own official portrait after being handed the job of Culture Secretary in one of the surprise moves of the reshuffle.

Earlier, Miss Dorries – a one-time rent-a-quote and former reality TV contestant – had stood and gossiped with reporters about the reshuffle, apparently unaware she was to be handed a Cabinet job.

Yesterday’s reshuffle had a long gestation. When Mr Johnson gathered senior aides in Downing Street on Sunday afternoon to finalise his shake-up it was the culmination of months of planning.  

Yesterday’s reshuffle had a long gestation. When Boris Johnson gathered senior aides in Downing Street on Sunday afternoon to finalise his shake-up it was the culmination of months of planning

Yesterday’s reshuffle had a long gestation. When Boris Johnson gathered senior aides in Downing Street on Sunday afternoon to finalise his shake-up it was the culmination of months of planning

No10: It was nothing to do with Carrie… 

Downing Street denied that the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson had played any role in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle.

It came after it was branded the ‘Carrie reshuffle’ by Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings. 

Downing Street denied that the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson (pictured) had played any role in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle

Downing Street denied that the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson (pictured) had played any role in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle

But when asked if she had been consulted, a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘No.’ 

She has previously been accused of interfering after figures she was believed to be close to were promoted, such as Sajid Javid being made Health Secretary and John Whittingdale as culture minister.

The Prime Minister had been frustrated that key parts of his agenda were not being seen to be delivered, but had felt constrained from acting by the demands of the Covid crisis. 

Aides had first prepared to hold the reshuffle in July. 

But the unexpected departure of Matt Hancock as Health Secretary after being filmed kissing an aide made it less urgent and the PM’s enforced self-isolation at the end of the month made it logistically impossible.

Mr Johnson had toyed with the idea of delaying the shake-up until after next month’s Conservative Party conference, but finally decided at the weekend that it made no sense to give a platform to failing ministers who were destined to be sacked.

After a fortnight of speculation, the Westminster rumour mill went into overdrive yesterday morning as Government drivers were put on standby to whisk ministers to Downing Street.

It was finally confirmed at lunchtime when No 10 took the unusual step of denying claims by former top aide Dominic Cummings that the PM had consulted his wife Carrie on who to hire and fire.

The formal reshuffle did not begin until after Prime Minister’s Questions when the PM and senior aides hunkered down in his Commons office to conduct the sackings away from prying eyes.

As nervous MPs clutched their phones and awaited news of their political futures, journalists swarmed to catch a glimpse of the comings and goings.

Amanda Milling was spotted looking miserable after being sacked as Conservative Party co-chairman and a grim-faced Robert Buckland was also seen leaving after being fired as Justice Secretary.

Amanda Milling (pictured on Tuesday) was spotted looking miserable after being sacked as Conservative Party co-chairman

Amanda Milling (pictured on Tuesday) was spotted looking miserable after being sacked as Conservative Party co-chairman

Education brief for the former child refugee 

Nadhim Zahawi, who arrived in Britain as a nine-year-old boy unable to speak English, was promoted to Education Secretary yesterday, replacing Gavin Williamson.

The former health minister was rewarded with a Cabinet role after the successful rollout of vaccines across the UK.

Mr Zahawi, 54, who fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein with his family when he was a child, gave a double-thumbs up as he left No 10 yesterday after accepting his new job.

The MP for Stratford-on-Avon will face a difficult brief at the Department for Education, which has struggled to manage the virus’s impact on schooling during the pandemic and it will be a tough job to win back the trust of parents.

But, as a former schools minister before his promotion to vaccines minister, he has experience of the department. 

He said: ‘From my own experience, I know what a beacon of opportunity this country can be and I want all children, young people and adults to have access to a brilliant education, the right qualifications and opportunities to secure good jobs.

‘That’s both vital for them and also our economy and is more important now than ever before.’

Mary Bousted of the NEU teaching union, said: ‘We hope that Nadhim Zahawi shows a passion and an interest in education and realises the power that valued education professionals have to transform the lives of young people.’

Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘The Department for Education may now be under new management but the same challenges remain.’

Mr Zahawi was privately-educated at King’s College School in west London. He studied chemical engineering at University College London. 

One of the wealthiest members of Parliament, he set up polling company YouGov. He is said to have a property empire worth around £100million.

Meanwhile, Miss Truss and Oliver Dowden were having a relaxed lunch with colleagues in the Members’ Dining Room before they were handed new jobs by the PM.

But Gavin Williamson had already been told he would be departing as Education Secretary after a miserable run that saw his approval ratings among Tory activists fall to an incredible minus 53.

He gave a farewell speech to staff in his department before the reshuffle was even underway. 

Eyes are said to have remained dry.

When he was summoned to the Commons, the former chief whip made a brief appeal to the PM to return to his former role, but Mr Johnson stamped on the idea immediately.

Friends said Mr Williamson was philosophical about his brutal removal and believed he might yet have one more comeback in him.

Mr Johnson is said to have been ‘pained’ by his conversation with the blameless Mr Buckland.

One senior Tory MP said his only failing was that he was ‘a middle-aged white man’ in a reshuffle that emphasised diversity.

But this was nothing compared to the bust-up with Mr Raab, who battled for more than half an hour to keep his job. He reminded the PM he had stood in for him when his life was in the balance at the height of the pandemic last year.

And he defended his record on Afghanistan, which has faced intense criticism following his decision to stay on holiday as Kabul fell to the Taliban.

The PM was said to be sympathetic but unmoved. 

After what one source described as a ‘negotiation’ between the two men, the PM offered to throw in the grand, but largely meaningless, title of Deputy Prime Minister to soften what was otherwise a harsh demotion.

Downing Street insiders said the PM had planned to move Mr Raab to justice for months, describing the former lawyer as a ‘round peg in a round hole’ there.

His fate was sealed not so much by his conduct over Afghanistan as by his toxic falling-out with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, a close personal friend of the PM.

After the sackings, Mr Johnson was smuggled out of Parliament to Downing Street. Ministers were called in to the Cabinet room one-by-one to be handed their roles by him.

They were then taken to the State Dining Rooms to have their official pictures taken in front of a pair of Union flags. 

Meanwhile, Miss Truss (pictured) and Oliver Dowden were having a relaxed lunch with colleagues in the Members’ Dining Room before they were handed new jobs by the PM

Meanwhile, Miss Truss (pictured) and Oliver Dowden were having a relaxed lunch with colleagues in the Members’ Dining Room before they were handed new jobs by the PM

Downing Street said the reshuffle was designed to create a ‘united’ team and Mr Johnson certainly rewarded loyalty.

Both Miss Truss and Miss Dorries have proved unswervingly loyal to the PM. Michael Gove had made little secret of his desire to move to the Foreign Office, but insiders said the PM had long favoured Miss Truss.

A source said: ‘Michael wanted it, but it was always going to be Liz.’ 

Mr Gove’s official portrait records that, like Mr Raab, he could not muster a smile.

Michael Gove dances off to sort out housing 

Michael Gove has been tasked with delivering on Boris Johnson’s flagship ‘levelling up’ policy as well as solving the housing crisis after being made Communities Secretary

Michael Gove has been tasked with delivering on Boris Johnson’s flagship ‘levelling up’ policy as well as solving the housing crisis after being made Communities Secretary

Michael Gove has been tasked with delivering on Boris Johnson’s flagship ‘levelling up’ policy as well as solving the housing crisis after being made Communities Secretary.

The long-standing minister was moved sideways from his role at the Cabinet Office, but will retain his existing responsibilities for the Union and elections.

The bulging in-tray will be seen as a confidence vote in Mr Gove, 54, by the PM as he entrusts him to deliver on key tenets of the Conservative manifesto.

He replaces Robert Jenrick, 39, who was sacked after a string of controversies, including a ‘cash for favours’ row last year involving former newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond’s plan to build 1,500 homes on the site of the old Westferry print works in east London.

Mr Gove has a reputation in Westminster as a minister who can get a tough job done, having previously led the education and justice departments.

He was tasked with preparing for a no-deal Brexit in the Cabinet Office when Mr Johnson became PM, despite running against him in the Tory leadership race.

The Prime Minister has championed sweeping planning reforms which have sparked a ferocious backlash among backbenchers. 

And he has described his ‘levelling up’ agenda – which he hopes will spread opportunity across the country – as his ‘great project’.

Mr Gove, who grew up in Aberdeen – and was last month pictured dancing enthusiastically at a nightclub in the city – will continue his work defending the Union, chiefly against calls for a second Scottish referendum.

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