LONDON: Prime Minister Liz Truss held her first Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday after announcing one of the UK’s most diverse Cabinets, with key frontline posts going to ethnic minority members of Parliament, including Indian-origin Suella Braverman as the Home Secretary.
Another Indian-origin minister in the Cabinet, Agra-born Alok Sharma, retains his climate action job as the COP26 President, as does Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in a new top team that is otherwise a complete shake-up of the old guard.
London-born junior minister Ranil Jayawardena, of mixed Sri Lankan and Indian heritage, has been promoted as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Many senior Tories, who had backed Truss’ rival, British Indian former finance minister Rishi Sunak, find themselves without a job – including former justice secretary Dominic Raab, transport secretary Grant Shapps and health secretary Steve Barclay.
The process of appointing the Cabinet and junior ministerial roles began on Tuesday and will continue into Wednesday, when Truss addresses her first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons.
By her side on the frontbenches will be Braverman, whose Tamil mother had her family roots in Mauritius and Goan-origin father migrated to the UK from Kenya.
Also, by her side will be Ghanian-origin Kwasi Kwarteng as the UK’s first black Chancellor and mixed Sierra Leone and white heritage James Cleverly as the Foreign Secretary, Truss’ own former portfolio.
Truss has packed the top tier of her Cabinet with close allies, such as Therese Coffey as the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Wendy Morton as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and the first Tory female Chief Whip in charge of party discipline.
Former Tory leadership contender Kemi Badenoch is the new International Trade Secretary, with incumbent Anne-Marie Trevelyan shifted as Transport Secretary. Another former contestant Tom Tugendhat has been handed the role of the Minister for Security.
Iraqi-origin Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of Equalities, Brandon Lewis is the new Justice Secretary, and Penny Mordaunt is the Leader of the Commons.
Former junior ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke have been promoted as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Levelling Up and Housing respectively, and former policing minister Kit Malthouse is the new Education Secretary.
“We have huge reserves of talent, of energy, and determination,” Truss said in her inaugural address outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday.
“I am confident that together we can: ride out the storm, we can rebuild our economy, and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be. This is our vital mission to ensure opportunity and prosperity for all people and future generations. I am determined to deliver,” she said.
Her speech followed an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where the 96-year-old monarch formally asked her to form a new government.
Truss has pledged to “transform Britain into an aspiration nation with high paying jobs, safe streets and where everyone everywhere has the opportunities they deserve”. She has acknowledged the tough challenges she faces with spiralling energy bills creating a cost-of-living crisis but insisted that she has a plan to “ride out the storm”.