Greg Hands appointed UK energy chief in Boris Johnson's government shake-up

Role considered crucial as Britain gears up to host UN climate conference Cop26 in November

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued the overhaul of his government on Thursday, with Greg Hands appointed Energy Minister and Penny Mordaunt removed from her Paymaster General role.

Ms Mordaunt was replaced by Michael Ellis, who had been serving as the acting Attorney General.

The appointment of Mr Hands, whose official title will be Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, comes at a particularly important time.

Glasgow is set to host the UN climate summit, known as Cop26, in November as the international community assembles to discuss action against global warming.

“Energy, clean growth and climate change – some of the biggest challenges and opportunities for the government as we approach Cop26,” Mr Hands said upon his appointment.

Mr Johnson is expected to continue overhauling the ministerial ranks in the coming days, after a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday.

Dominic Raab was replaced as Foreign Secretary by Liz Truss, who had been in charge of international trade. He was removed from the role after facing intense criticism for his conduct during the rapid takeover of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals last month by the Taliban. Mr Raab was on holiday in Crete when the militants toppled Kabul.

Mr Raab, a lawyer by trade, was moved to Justice Secretary and given the title of Deputy Prime Minister.

Gavin Williamson was sacked as Education Secretary after his handling of the school exams fiasco during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ben Wallace, who retained his role as Defence Secretary, on Thursday said the Prime Minister did not sack any of his top team due to incompetence and said treatment of Mr Williamson had been “unfair”.

“He has removed people from government not because they’re incompetent, not because they weren’t loyal enough et cetera, which are often the narratives you see, but often he has to refresh his team and move people out the way,” Mr Wallace told the BBC.

He insisted his Mr Raab’s holiday was not the reason for his removal.

“Dominic is by trade a lawyer, he started his life in the Foreign Office as a human rights lawyer and he’s gone to the Ministry of Justice which is actually a very, very important role and a role he desperately understands.”

Updated: September 16th 2021, 10:39 AM