The strange statistics behind Rishi Sunak's first Cabinet

New UK PM's top team sees parliamentary records broken and reduction in diversity

Seventeen ministers in Rishi Sunak's cabinet are white and male - a higher number than its previous incarnation. PA
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With the UK changing prime ministers at a rate more associated with changing nappies, it is of little surprise that the resulting chaos has manifested itself in some rather strange ministerial statistics.

Here The National lists some of these statistical quirks and also looks at whether Rishi Sunak's first Cabinet is more or less diverse than its Liz Truss antecedent.

Shapps breaks record and Braverman returns

New Business Secretary Grant Shapps goes into the history books as the shortest-serving home secretary in modern political history.

Mr Shapps was given the job by former prime minister Liz Truss on October 19 and lasted just six days until being replaced by Suella Braverman on October 25.

It represents a very swift return to the role for Ms Braverman, who held the post directly before Mr Shapps but only for 43 days before resigning over a breach of the ministerial code.

She is currently the second shortest-serving home secretary since 1900.

If she manages to stay in the job for another 19 days, she will become the third shortest-serving person to hold the role.

The Coffey paradox

New Environment Secretary Therese Coffey has become the shortest-serving female deputy prime minister with her tenure lasting 49 days. However, given she was the first woman to be appointed to the position, paradoxically she is also the longest-serving female deputy prime minister.

Justice for Raab — again

Ms Coffey's replacement is Dominic Raab who returns to the post he held from September 2021 to September 2022 after his sacking as foreign secretary.

Only three other people have ever been officially appointed to the role: Conservative politician Michael Heseltine (1995 to 1997), Labour's John Prescott (1997 to 2007) and the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (2010 to 2015).

Nick Clegg served as deputy prime minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government between 2010 and 2015. AFP

Five education secretaries in a year

Gillian Keegan has been appointed education secretary, astonishingly the fifth person to hold the post in under a year.

Since 2010, the post has been held by Michael Gove (2010-14), Nicky Morgan (2014-16), Justine Greening (2016-18), Damian Hinds (2018-19), Gavin Williamson (2019-21), Nadhim Zahawi (2021-22), Michelle Donelan (for two days in July 2022), James Cleverly (from July to September 2022), Kit Malthouse (from September to October 2022) and now Ms Keegan.

Another department with an extraordinary turnover since 2010 is the department for work and pensions, with Mel Stride becoming the ninth to hold the position during this period.

He follows Iain Duncan Smith (2010-16), Stephen Crabb (2016), Damian Green (2016-17), David Gauke (2017-18), Esther McVey (2018), Amber Rudd (2018-19), Therese Coffey (2019-2022) and Chloe Smith (2022).

And while not quite at these levels, the department for transport also saw its seventh transport secretary since 2010 in the shape of Mark Harper.

Gillian Keegan leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed UK education secretary, its fifth in 12 months. Bloomberg

Gove gets levelled up

Michael Gove is another surprise comeback, returning to the Cabinet 111 days after he was sacked by former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Gove has now held six different Cabinet posts since 2010: education secretary (2010-14), chief whip (2014-15), justice secretary (2015-16), environment secretary (2017-19), chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (2019-21) and levelling up secretary (September 2021 to July 2022, to which he has now been reappointed)

Diversity reduction

Mr Sunak's status as the first UK prime minister of Asian descent has been fashioned a triumph for British diversity and garnered plaudits from across the political spectrum — as well as from Britain's Hindu community, as shown in this video by The National.

Yet his first Cabinet has actually become less diverse, both in terms of gender and ethnicity.

Just under a quarter (22 per cent) of all people able to attend Cabinet meetings are women.

This is down from nearly a third (32 per cent) at the start of Ms Truss's premiership, which was the highest proportion ever for a prime minister's first Cabinet.

It is also lower than the equivalent figure for Mr Johnson (24 per cent) and Theresa May (30 per cent).

Five of the 31 people able to attend Mr Sunak's Cabinet are non-white, including the prime minister.

This is down from seven out of 31 in Ms Truss's first Cabinet.

The average age of Cabinet ministers is 52, up from 49 under Ms Truss.

At 42, Mr Sunak is one of the youngest members of his own Cabinet, with only two other ministers his age (Ms Braverman and Kemi Badenoch) and just one who is younger (Michelle Donelan, 38).

Some 15 of the 21 full-time Cabinet ministers are aged 50 or over.

To see pictures of every one of Mr Sunak's full-time cabinet ministers, scroll the gallery below.

Rishi Sunak's new Cabinet — in pictures

Updated: October 26, 2022, 11:23 AM
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