Get To Know The Cabinet

40 mins read

THE UK government cabinet is the top table in politics and is where the policies of the future are discussed and agreed on.

The last cabinet reshuffle was February 13th. At the moment that probably feels like a lifetime ago and there is little memory of who was even in the jobs beforehand.

In Tony Blair’s cabinets, it was often the case that ministers would serve very long tenures and become policy experts in their roles. Gordon Brown was Chancellor for 10 years, John Prescott was Deputy PM for the same amount of time. The current members have an average of fourteen months experience in the cabinet positions, and Johnson is already on his second Chancellor in under a year. Very useful for a national crisis.

There are currently more cabinet members who have been accused of editing their own Wikipedia page (two) then there are members who are black (zero).

There are currently more cabinet members who faced allegations of treason or leaking state secrets and then given another cabinet position (two) than there are members who are black (again, zero).

The cabinet works best with a mixture of fresh faces and experience, a mixture of friends and enemies. Collective responsibility means the cabinet should stand by the party line and be the first to obey the rules set by government.

The current cabinet seems to reflect inexperience, incompetence, and misplaced loyalty over anything else. You would imagine scandal would not be something that allows you to get into a top cabinet position, never mind keep it. However, as you move down the list you will realise the less scandal you have, the less important role you are given.

Credit: BBC

Prime Minister – Boris Johnson

Johnson seems like the kind of person who would rather be king, not PM. Boris probably never wanted all of this national crisis stuff, he just wanted to go down in history and probably was wishing for a ceremonial role with lots of state dinners and no working on the weekends.

Had Boris been PM during a time when nothing really happened and there was a strong economy (something hard to ever imagine now) he would have probably been seen as a success.

However, national crisis calls and Johnson does not seem to be up for the job. Before the Domonic Cummings story broke, Johnson was hardly seen at all. If Theresa May was still PM, she would have done every briefing and sacked Cummings the same day.

Constituency: Uxbridge and South Ruislip (2005, London)

Alma Mater: Oxford (Classics)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Foreign Secretary (also previously Mayor of London)

Resigned/Sacked Previously: Resigned as Foreign Secretary due to disagreements with Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

Scandals: Generally you would like to think the question of how many children a person has is not quite a mystery, but for Johnson it is actually not known how many children he has.

Various reports would say it is at least six, but this is not set in stone. In his different articles written when a journalist and in politics he has called black people “Piccaninnies” with “Watermelon Smiles”, gay men “tank top bum boys”, and compared Muslim women to “letter boxes”.

One of Johnson’s friends was once a bit annoyed at what a journalist had reported about them, luckily Johnson was there to give information and help arrange that fellow journalist be beaten up.

Has allegedly given public money away in a conflict of interest to a woman (Jennifer Arcuri) who he was potentially in relationship with. Recently refused to sack a special advisor (Dominic Cummings) for allegedly breaking the government’s own lockdown rules. He was sacked as a shadow minister in 2004 due to lying about an extra marital affair.

(Scandals as reported in the Guardian, Telegraph, BBC News)

Credit: Yahoo Finance

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rishi Sunak

It’s important to know that, other than being the best looking in a bad bunch and bank rolling the entire economy, Sunak is actually still a Thatcherite and would likely be less popular than George Osbourne if he truly got his way.

Sunak has had an incredible rise from first election as an MP to a Great Office of State in under five years, but a high riser does not always equal a competent Treasury with a heart. When the next decade is likely spent in worse austerity than the last, remember a time people liked the Chancellor because he could make coherent sentences and was okay looking.

A simpler time. Sunak just wants to be PM, you can see this in how every statement he releases on current affairs is often broad and vauge, meaning he does not have to take a side, but can still appear to be active.

Apparently his manoeuvres for the job have already started. However, is he actually doing this or is he just semi competent and that translates for some as being sneaky? Maybe replacing Javid with Sunak was a fatal error.

Constituency: Richmond (2015, Yorks)

Alma Mater: Oxford (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics) & Stanford (Master of Business)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: His predecessor resigned for not agreeing to be at the mercy of Dominic Cummings; would appear Rishi is a ‘Yes Man’ who was more concerned with getting a job in a Great Office of State than having independent ideas for the Treasury.

He is one of the richest MPs in Parliament and married into a family worth billions. Whilst this is not really a scandal in itself, it’s a bit of a stretch to think he could imagine ordinary people’s struggles when making policy.

(Scandals as reported from the former Chancellor’s (Sajid Javid) Twitter account, as well as Guardian, PoliticsHome and The Huffington Post)

Credit: Gov.uk

First Secretary of State & Foreign Secretary – Dominic Raab

Raab was likely given his position in order to stop backbench plotting to bring Johnson’s premiership to an early end. He is designated survivor and was brefily incharge when Johnson was unwell. However, if that was a taste of how he would lead then we can assume the first and second in command of the UK run things through incomptenece and waiting to be told what to do by close advisors.

Constituency: Esher and Walton (2010)

Alma Mater: Oxford (Jurisprudence) & Cambridge (Master of Law)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Brexit Secretary

Sacked/Resigned Previously: Resigned as Brexit Secretary due to disagreements with other Cabinet members over Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

Scandals: Settled a Libel case to the cost of £20,000 alleging bullying of staff, has been named in dossiers alleging sexual assault by several Conservative MPs; Raab obviously denies this. Often newspapers will describe Raab’s actions as ‘punchy’; used by the press to hint at awareness allegations, but not going any further due to potential libel claims.

He has also been Foreign Secretary for the entire case of Harry Dunn. If your memory fails you, that was the where an American diplomat’s wife drove on the wrong side of the road and collided with Dunn, resulting in his death at the age of 19. She claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the country. Since then it seems Rabb has just hoped we all forget. However, the trial brought by Dunn’s parents starts this week, so expect trouble ahead for Rabb

(Scandals reported in BBC, PoliticsHome, and Sky News)

Home Secretary – Priti Patel

Can you imagine being in a prestigous well paid job and deciding to commit a crime that used to come with the death penatly? You’d assume you would be sacked and it would take what felt like a lifetime to get up the ladder again.

Well that is the thing of the past, just allegedly break the ministerial code and lay low for a few months and you will be given a great office of state. It also does not seem to matter if you continue to bring the government into disrepute or how you treat staff, the normal rules of cabinet do not seem to be a thing anymore. However, rumour has it a demotion is on its way for Patel, after she failed to defend Dominic Cummings breaching lockdown.

Constituency: Witham (2010)

Alma Mater: Keele University (Economics) & Essex University (Postgrad in British Government and Politics)

Previous Cabinet Positions: International Development Secretary

Sacked/Resigned Previously: Sacked for treason.

Scandals: Resigned after meeting with Israeli officials without informing the government. Ironically, Patel is one of the biggest supporters for bringing back the death penalty as a form of punishment for serious crimes. I wonder if she included committing treason Patel has a long history of allegations of bullying staff and civil servants. Whilst at the department of International Development there were accusations of belittling staff in her office.

This came to a head when she allegedly forced out the most senior civil servant in the Home Office. She is also criticised for attempting to create an immigration system in the UK that is unworkable and would go to such lengths that, if it was in place when her parents moved to the UK, they would not have been allowed into the country.

Patel has this habit where she will announce a policy to appear tough and play to the right of her party, but the truth is in the detail. Whilst she says you will need to isloate for two weeks if you enter the country and you need to earn certain amounts before you can move here, if you check the finer details of these then you see a long list of exceptions to both that actually just mean they are nothing more than a headline with no substance or purpose.

(Scandals reported in The Guardian, BBC News, and The Huffington Post)

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – Michael Gove

Gove is by far the most experienced cabinet minister after serving in varying briefs and being one of the only OGs from David Cameron’s first cabinet all those years ago. You can now catch him blindly defending the actions of Dominic Cummings at a cost of all his professional integrity. I have no idea what Domminic Cummings has on all these people but damn, it must be juicy.

Constituency: Surrey Heath (2005)

Alma Mater: Oxford (English)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary; Justice Secretary; Chief Whip; Education Secretary.

Resigned/Sacked Previously: Allegedly demoted from Education to Chief Whip by David Cameron. Sacked as Justice Sec by Theresa May when she took office.

Scandals: Was heavily involved in the 2007 expenses scandal as was seen to be manipulating the system of MPs expenses to use public money in order to renovate properties and then selling them for personal profit. Often seen as disloyal for declaring intention to run for leader of the Conservative party the day his ally (Johnson) was intending to declare. He admitted to taking cocaine when he was in his twenties but was against drug liberalisation in his time as Justice Secretary. He has heavily defended Dominic Cummings action during lockdown and even going as far to agreeing that driving to test personal eyesight is a logical thing to do.

(Scandals reported in The Telegraph BBC News, The Guardian and The Spectator)

Credit: BBC

Health & Social Care Secretary – Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock really should have just stayed a junior minister. Back then he was seen as harmless and a bit of a dork who really likes karaoke. However, his career ambitions meant he had to leave his integrity behind and be a sell out at any given opportunity.

When you go from a remainer to a hard brexiteer, and then you go from saying lockdown rules are instructions to saying they are more of a suggestion because your friend gets caught, its obvious to see a lack of substance and back bone.

Constituency: West Suffolk (2010)

Alma Mater: Oxford (Politics, Phiosophy, Economics) & Cambridge (MPhil Economics)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Has endorsed private healthcare companies whilst Health Secretary which is in breach of the Ministerial Code and would usually lead to sacking. Fiddled the figures for Covid-19 tests in order to reach the 100,000 a day target by the end of May; said over 120,000 tests had taken place, but 40,000 of these had been sent in the post and there was no information of how many had actually been taken.

In the middle of a national crisis where people were dying in care homes and health workers were desperate for PPE, he decided a “Care” badge was the best solution. Former colleagues have described him as “slippery as a bar of soap”. He called for the police action against Neil Ferguson, the professor who had helped to give the government scientific advise for lockdown but then broke these rules. Hancock took a much different opinion for when Dominic Cummings broke the rules.

Was a Remainer in the Brexit campaign, but his opinion shifted slowly to advocate for a possible no-deal Brexit; this was likely to gain promotion and put him in a good position for the Tory leadership election. He was not elected leader and was not promoted.

(Scandals reported in The Guardian, The Mirror, and The Independent)

Creddit: Mirror

Defence Secretary – Ben Wallace

As someone who likes politics and consider it my main hobby, I just have one question about Wallace: Who?

Constituency: Lancaster and Wyre (2005). Constituency then changed to Wyre and Preston North which he has served in since 2010.

Alma Mater: Did not attend

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Was discovered to be paying his wife £29,000 in parliamentary expenses to be a research assistant. Often votes against better regulation of the private renting sector, probably due to the fact he profits from being a landlord in the loosely regulated market.

(Scandals as reported in The Guardian, the Telegraph, the Mirror and TheyWorkForYou.com)

Credit: The Times

Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Secretary – Alok Sharma

Sharma just seems like your basic template for any conservative politician; previously worked at Deloitte, governer of a free school in England, prevously chaired a right leaning think tank. If anything he would make a good Conservative prime minister because he has the values and none of the scandal.

The most interesting thing that seemed to happen to him was recently having a hot flush in the House of Commons leading people to believe he could have covid-19 and several people, including the PM, would need to isolate for two weeks after coming into contact with him. His test results were negative.

Constituency: Reading West (2010)

Alma Mater: University of Salford (Applied Physics with Electronics)

Previous Cabinet Positions:  International Development Secretary

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Sharma appears to have managed to make it into front line politics and a seat at the Cabinet table with essentially no scandal. Must be a lonely existence compared to the other members who sit around the table.

Credit: The Standard

International Trade Secretary & Minister for Women and Equalities – Elizabeth Truss

With all the other current members of cabinet and their history, its almost hard to forget Truss was the OG when it comes to gaffes and incompetence. Another member of the cabinet, she it most likely remembered for gifs of her saying its a disgrace how much cheese the UK imports. If she had avoided the Justice Secretary position she may have been in a better role at the moment. However, getting to go around the world begging countries to do trade deals with you maybe wouldn’t be the worst gig ever.

Constituency: South West Norfolk

Alma Mater: Oxford (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Justice Secretary; Environment, Food and, Rural Affairs Secretary

Sacked/Resigned: Move from Justice Secretary to Chief Secretary to the Treasury was seen as a demotion. This was likely due to scandal after scandal during her time in the Justice department.

Scandals: Faced calls to resign after admitting breaking a court order and continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. An easy mistake to make? Probably not, which raises the question of why this happened three times. Not everyone can say they have breached international law, so she has that at least. She faced deselection in her constituency in 2009 after an extramarital affair with another MP (Mark Field). She failed to defend court judges during her time in the as justice secretary when Brexiteers declared war on the courts. She has written articles for right leaning think tanks that claim Britons are the most ‘idle workers’ in the world.

(Scandals as reported in The Telegraph, The Guardian, LegalCheek.com, and Belfast Telegraph)

Credit: ITV

Work and Pensions Secretary – Thérèse Coffey

Coffey seems like a character from Ashes to Ashes that has come to life, walked off the set, and somehow wondered into a government position and is just to afraid to say anything now. Usually seen with a cigar in one hand and a pint of Guiness in the other, she seems to be stuck in an age where you could be agaisnt marriage equality and support bad policy because you just hate everyone. One thing that is surprising is how she has not given any daily breifings on behalf of the government. Work and Pensions seems like one area a lot of people would be concerned about at the moment. She is currently keeping herself busy by arguing against a policy to give school children meal vouchers in a

Constituency: Suffolk Coastal

Alma Mater: Oxford (Chemistry) & UCL (Chemistry PhD)

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Coffey is a divisive figure and often supports reactionary policy. She would like to lift the ban on smoking in public places, bring back limitless betting odds on addictive gambling machines, and is an opponent of gay marriage. With her addition to the cabinet, it meant a majority of cabinet members have now voted against same sex marriage, something not reached since the 1990s.

(Scandals reported in the Morning Star, bylinetimes.com, The Sun and the Daily Mail. Yes, I know the final two publictions are not everyone’s idea of a reliable source, but is interesting to see them brief against a Conservative minister)

Credit: The Times

Education Secretary – Gavin Williamson

Remember how with Priti Patel it seemed committing treason got you promoted eventually? Well it seems allegations of leaking state secrets ain’t that bad either and would not get in the way of a cabinet position. When Williamson was chief whip he kept a tarantula on his desk to intimidate MPs into towing the party line. However, now he is just someone who wishes he had a different job and makes unusual confessions about having an extramarital affair whilst a fire place salesman. That last bit sounds fictitious but that actually did happen.

Constituency: South Staffordshire (2010)

Alma Mater: University of Bradford (Social Sciences)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Chief Whip, Defence Secretary

Sacked/Resigned Previously: Was asked to resign as Defence Secretary, he refused and was sacked by Theresa May.

Scandals: Allegedly leaked government secrets with regards to Huawei. Many MPs saw him as the hurdle in dealing with sexual harassment and abuse whilst he wasin the Whips office. He believed the best way to deal with current Russian aggression was to tell them to “go away and shut up”.

(Scandals as reported in The Independent, BBC News, The Guardian, and The Times)

Credit: The Times

Housing and Local Communities Secretary – Robert Jenrick

Jenrick has taken a comprehensive control of his brief during the crisis and has recieved praise for his initiative. However, it seems if you had to describe him in one word it would probably be ‘headache’. His first gaffe was breaking lockdown rules but his excuse seemed to largely give him a pass. However, it now seems he is tendering projects to which ever tory donor speaks to him after he has had a drink. It looks like Jenrick will probably continue to cause problems for the government, but it does have to be said it is impressive feat how quickly opposition parties have called for his resignation.

Constituency: Newark (2014)

Alma Mater: Cambridge (History) & College of Law (Graduate Diploma in Law)

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Travelled to a second home during lockdown and broke the rules made by his own government. Accepted a housing contract from a tory donor to build a housing complex against local government advice; the local government sought legal advice and the Secretary of State’s position has been called into question. Jenrick allegedly changed his own Wikipedia page from within the House of Commons in order to hide embarrassing information about himself. Jenrick claims £100,000 from the taxpayer for a third home in his constituency that he rarely uses.

(Scandals as reported in The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph)

Credit: The Times

Environment, Food and, Rural Affairs Secretary (DEFRA) – George Eustice

Eustice is another name in cabinet who seems to have come from nowhere. His job was probably awarded due to resigining as a junior minister under May due to her Withdrawal Agreement. His name wouldn’t have seemed to pop up much before his time in cabinet, but that does not mean he hasnt had a few scandals.

Constituency: Camborne and Redruth (2010)

Alma Mater: Did not attend

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Preciously: N/A

Scandals: For a man with such little front-line experience, this man comes with some scandals. Refused as DEFRA secretary to ensure food standards are maintained in a trade deal with America – opening the door to chlorinated chicken. He was accused of failure to declare election spending in his constituency and was included in a group that was accused of over spending. In August 2016, Eustice was one of two Conservative environment ministers who were accused by environmental campaigners of having a conflict of interest over receiving subsidies on their family businesses whilst being involved in developing the plans for the replacement system to EU farming support.

(Scandals reported in Cornwall Live, Farmer’s Guardian, and the Daily Mail)

Credit: The Standard

Justice Secretary – Robert Buckland

Justice never seems to get the recognition it deserves. David Gauke was the first solicitor to actually hold the post. You would think the government would try and put someone with meticulous competence and attention to detail to this role. The courts ruled the porogation of parliament to be illegal and are ready for a fight if the government tries to start appointing politically leaning judges. You’d think the government would have picked someone better than a nobody with some tax avoidance under his belt.

Constituency: South Swindon

Alma Mater: Durham (Law)

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Has a history of investing in tax avoidance schemes and using blind trusts to hide personal finances. One of the cabinet ministers with the least baggage.

(Scandals reported in The Telegraph and The Guardian)

Credit: ITV

Transport Secretary – Grant Shapps

Shapps has been in and out of various government roles for the last 10 years and seems to have managed to impress no one, make no lasting impact, and also be complicit in a youth campainers suidcide. Quite an achievement really.

Constituency: Welwyn Hatfield (2005)

Alma Mater: Manchester Polytechnic (Business & Finance)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Housing and Local Communities Secretary; Conservative Party Chair; Minister Without Portfolio

Sacked/Resigned Previously: Sacked from the Cabinet role of Minister Without Portfolio and demoted to a Minister of State.

Scandals: Stood down as Minister of State due to overlooking bullying which has been linked to the suicide of a Youth Campaigner (Elliot Johnson); not to worry about how this must have affected Shapps, he received a pay-out for resigning and he is not dead like the Youth Campaigner.

Previously used a pseudonym in order to not declare a second job as an MP, denied allegations of this before having to admit he had a second job within a ‘get-rich-quick’ pyramid scheme.

Allegedly edited his own Wikipedia page from within his parliamentary office to cover up embarrassing information. Was the Cabinet Minster to give the government briefing after the story of Dominic Cummings broke; allegedly agreed to this in return for promotion.

(Scandals reported in The Guardian, The Telegraph, and Channel 4 News)

Credit: BBC

Northern Ireland Secretary – Brandon Lewis

Lewis is one of those poeple who you kinda know who they are but you have no idea what they do or why. Usually the Nothern Ireland post is fobbed off on someone who needs rewarding for loyalty or experience, but you don’t want them making any big desicions.

The previous Northern Ireland secretary was actually doing a good job and managed to get a powersharing agreement back in the devolved administration. However, as Johnson’s cabinet shows, competence is not essential.

Constituency: Great Yarmouth (2010)

Alma Mater: University of Buckingham (Economics, and then an LLB), & KCL (Master of Business Law)

Previous Cabinet Positions: Minister Without Portfolio & Party Chairman

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Stood on a platform of “clean expenses”, it was then revealed that he had claimed £37,000 for “research briefing and other parliamentary associated assistance”.

Expenses are vital for an MP to carry out their work and run an effective office in their constituency. However, for Lewis this was to pay for London Hotels.

(Scandals reported in Great Yarmouth Mercury, and the BBC)

Credit: Daily Record

Scotland Secretary – Alister Jack

Of all the Scottish Tory MPs, this is the one you will never had heard of. The next crisis after covid-19 will likely be Scottish Independence and it would make sense to have a safe pair of hands who people know and respect in this role. Johnson obviously does not share that opinion.

Constituency: Dumfries and Galloway (2017)

Alma Mater: Did not attend

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Has over £70,000 of shares in a firm in world’s ‘worst’ tax haven. Other than this, he does not seem to have found trouble during his three years in Parliament.

(Scandals reported in The Scottish Herald)

Credit: Wales Online

Wales Secretary – Simon Hart

Hart is another cabinet member who you have to stop and ask: who? The role of Wales Secretary is probably one of the easier roles. No contentious sectarian issues and independence is not really an issue at present. Kinda makes sense as to why there would’t be a heavy player in this role.

Constituency: Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (2010)

Alma Mater: Royal Agricultural College

Previous Cabinet Positions: N/A

Sacked/Resigned Preciously: N/A

Scandals: Criticised MPs who employ family members, and then went on to employ his wife. Took money from cigarette companies after opposing curbs on smoking.

Alleged he had been targeted in offensive graffiti on campaign signs in the last two elections, but it was noticed it was the same sign in the 2017 election and the 2019 election with slight differences, casting doubt on any actual vandalism.

(Scandals reported in The Mirror and Parliament Website)

Credit: Guardian

Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport – Oliver Dowden

Dowden was fromerly David Cameron’s cheif of staff and has been compared to the Tory equivelant of Alisatir Campbell. He must be less persuasive than Campbell, being given such a non-role wouldn’t really happen to Campbell.

Dowden has been giving some of the government’s daily covid-19 breifings which seems to show trust in his speaking abilities at least. Given his department is not really one that springs to mind when dealing with the current crisis, its not likely thats why he has been allowed to speak at the breifings.

Constituency: Hertsmere (2015)

Alma Mater: Cambridge (Law)

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Shameless defended Dominic Cummings breaching lockdown rules, no doubt looking for promotion. Allegedly received election expenses from public money in the 2015 election.

(Scandals reported in mynewsmag.co.uk and The Huffington Post)

Credit: Guardian

International Development Secretary – Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Trevelyan has never really done anything of interest apart from be a hard brexiteer. Likely given this role to appease that side of the party, Trevelyan has said she does not actually think her department should exist and is a waste of money that could be spent at home.

Johnson apparently shares some of this thinking; watch out for a potential announcement in the coming days about whether the Department for International Development is to be merged into the Foreign Office.

Constituency: Berwick upon Tweed (2015)

Alma Mater: Oxford Polytechnic (Maths)

Previous Cabinet Positions: None

Sacked/Resigned Previously: N/A

Scandals: Was involved in allegations of overspending at the 2015 election. Was accused of abandoning local interests in her constituency due to her resignation from a junior minister post after disagreeing with Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.

(Scandals reported in The Chronicle Live and The Northumberland Gazette)

Featured Image Credit: New Statesman

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