Liz Truss to make major UK government changes if she becomes PM

Chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary among the leading positions set to have new faces

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Britain will be governed by a tranche of new figures if Liz Truss becomes the new prime minister, The National can disclose.

Up to nine leading Cabinet members who are Rishi Sunak supporters will likely be out of government when, as expected, Ms Truss wins the Conservative Party leadership contest on Monday.

The three top posts will almost certainly go to Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor, James Cleverly as foreign secretary and Suella Braverman as home secretary.

Several new faces will also appear in the 28 or so ministers who sit around Downing Street’s Cabinet table deciding how to govern Britain.

Ministers from almost every department will soon be involved in tackling the energy crisis that will dominate the early months of a likely Truss premiership.

Candidates who took part in the early rounds of the leadership race, such as Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch, are likely to be rewarded with government posts.

To avoid the in-fighting that cost Boris Johnson his job and to restore the Conservatives' reputation, Ms Truss is likely to carefully choose ministers from across several factions for a more united government.

Chancellor

With Britain on the cusp of severe economic challenges, the Treasury will be under immense pressure to provide some form of relief to households facing annual energy bills that will soon exceed £3,500 ($4,100).

That task will likely fall to Mr Kwarteng, who will be promoted from Business Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer, the second most important job in government.

As a result, the Treasury will be fully economically aligned with Downing Street, with both Mr Kwarteng and Ms Truss strong free marketeers. This was expressed in the book Britannia Unchained they co-authored in 2012 to argue for lower taxes and less regulation. Mr Kwarteng also shares Ms Truss’ circumspection of windfall taxes on energy firms.

Mr Kwarteng, whose parents were migrants from Ghana, is well regarded as a highly intelligent operator. He won a King's Scholarship to the renowned UK school Eton and then achieved a first-class degree at Cambridge University.

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Those intellectual attributes will undergo a forensic examination through an emergency budget expected in the autumn.

In that, he will likely be assisted by John Redwood, who could make an astonishing return to government after 27 years on the back benches. He is set to become either economic secretary or financial secretary to the Treasury, the number three in the department.

They could well be joined by right-wing loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg, currently the minister for Brexit opportunities, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, second to the Chancellor.

Foreign Office

With Ms Truss vacating her post as Foreign Secretary, it is understood that her replacement will be former Middle East minister James Cleverly, who served as her deputy in the department.

She is known to rate Mr Cleverly highly, having seen his work as Minister for State for Europe. This included a leading role dealing with the Ukraine war, following his promotion from the Middle East post last year.

He is acutely aware of the Russia aggression that will probably be his main focus for at least the next year. But his Middle East experience will also give him good grounds to focus on a trade deal with GCC countries.

Mr Cleverly, who will also oversee MI6 as Foreign Secretary, brings solid military experience to the post. He served in the army reserves for 20 years and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Another politician with military experience likely to join him is Mr Tugendhat. He is tipped to become a minister in the Foreign Office, with his time as chairman of the foreign affairs committee giving him an excellent insight into Britain’s overseas challenges.

Mr Tugendhat came fifth in the parliamentary poll, giving him greater public prominence. Some commentators also said he performed well in the television debates, suggesting that a senior Cabinet post could materialise if he proves competent in his first government post.

He is from the “One Nation’ Tories, on the more liberal wing of the party, that will allow Ms Truss to have greater appeal among her MPs. There is also a suggestion he could receive the Security Minister post in the Home Office.

Home Office

Famous for being the graveyard of many politicians, the Home Office will almost certainly have a new chief with Suella Braverman taking over from Priti Patel.

As Attorney General, Ms Braverman will be well versed in the legal details that the new prime minister will hope enable her to overcome the continued illegal immigrant issue.

Ms Braverman, the daughter of Kenyan and Mauritian immigrants, will have to deal with the derailed policy of deporting failed asylum seekers to Rwanda.

As Attorney General, Ms Braverman will be well versed in the legal details that the new prime minister will hope enable her to overcome the continued illegal immigrant issue. PA

Her success will also be measured on whether that policy and any others she introduces clamps down on the number of migrants making the small boat crossings of the English Channel.

An ardent Brexiteer, Ms Braverman carries support among right-wingers and came a respectable sixth in the leadership contest before giving her full support to Ms Truss.

The Home Office is also likely to see a number of new faces who the new PM will want to assess to see if they are able to handle challenging portfolios.

Defence

One question that will never now be answered is that if Ben Wallace had decided to enter the leadership contest, would he have become prime minister on Tuesday?

In July, he led the polls among the Tory membership but instead chose to concentrate on the task of combating Russia in Ukraine as Defence Secretary, rather than deserting his post in pursuit of power.

That cemented the former soldier’s reputation for devotion to Britain’s security and will ensure that he almost certainly remains in his current post. He could even be further rewarded with the additional post of deputy prime minister, a position that has proven transferable among Cabinet ministers.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks after co-hosting a donor conference at Christiansborg in Copenhagen. AFP

While a strong Mr Johnson loyalist, Mr Wallace shares Ms Truss’ antipathy for Russia and her desire to increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP.

He could well be joined in the Ministry of Defence by former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt, who just missed out to Ms Truss in reaching the final pair in the leadership contest.

Currently a trade minister, Ms Mordaunt could be given a role as Mr Wallace’s deputy or another senior security post in Cabinet.

Incoming

Integral to any prime minister’s success is the ability of the ministers they appoint to undertake government work.

Ms Truss values competence highly and on that basis, is likely to promote Ms Badenoch, the daughter of Nigerian parents who proved so formidable during the leadership contest and could be given either transport or education.

Ms Truss’ friend and arch loyalist Therese Coffey is set to be given the task of restoring the heavily frayed internal discipline as Chief Whip.

Kemi Badenoch taking part in Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate, a head-to-head debate between Conservative Party leadership candidates in July. PA

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is another veteran certain to be given a weighty role along with Lord David Frost, the former chief Brexit negotiator.

Nadhim Zahawi’s brief tenure as chancellor will end with him possibly being given the health secretary post.

Nadine Dorries, a fervent Boris Johnson supporter, will probably remain as chief BBC-basher as culture secretary, although could move to the Lords.

Other new faces in Cabinet are likely to be Ranil Jayawardena, Chloe Smith and Simon Clarke.

Outgoing

Victory for Ms Truss will mean defeat for Mr Sunak and his many senior government supporters who know that there will be no place for them in her government.

Michael Gove has already said he is leaving frontline politics while the fate of hardline Home Secretary Priti Patel is also likely to be confirmed. They will likely be joined by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, George Eustice, Steve Barclay, Mark Spencer and Johnny Mercer.

Ms Truss will hope that they chose to avoid the plotting that undid Mr Johnson and allow her to lead both a united party through one of Britain’s most challenging periods.

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Updated: August 31, 2022, 6:00 AM
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