Several British government ministers have been fired in a drastic reshuffle by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The list includes the names of:
- Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister)
- Julian Smith, minister for Northern Ireland
- Chris Skidmore, minister for science and university
- Esther McVey, minister for the House
- Andrea Leadsom, minister for economic affairs
- Theresa Villiers, Minister for the Environment
- George Freeman, Minister for Transport
- Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general
- Nusrat Ghani, Undersecretary for Transport
Are all sacked from their respective positions.
Smith’s dismissal was greeted with greater surprise than the others, because he was considered one of the most competent members of the government and the one who had contributed most to solving the three-year government crisis in the region.
Almost all dismissed ministers had been in office since July 2019, when Johnson’s first government took office. Their replacements have already been partially announced: among others, Suella Braverman is the new procurator general and Rishi Sunak is the new finance minister. They are both 39 years old.
The reshuffle had been widely anticipated in recent days by the British media, and was justified by sources close to Johnson with the need to “promote a new generation of talent for the next few years,” wrote the Guardian (although most those fired were not really that old). The political motivation behind the reshuffle is primarily to strengthen Johnson’s leadership and move the executive’s business after the three and a half year deadlock following the Brexit referendum.
After the British elections last December, in fact, Johnson had left his government practically intact, waiting for a more favorable moment after January 31, that is when Brexit officially took place. In the UK, reshuffles are more frequent and less traumatic than they are in Italy, for example, because ministers can be fired by the prime minister, without many formal steps.