Dominic Raab lost his post as British Foreign Secretary amid a tense government reshuffle led by Boris Johnson.
Raab’s demotion as justice minister follows a lengthy meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday afternoon. He was, however, also appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor.
As chief diplomat, Raab came under heavy criticism last month for delaying his return from vacation in Greece as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
His departure was confirmed by Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s Office, on Twitter. He has since confirmed that Raab’s replacement will be Liz Truss, formerly Commerce Secretary.
There have also been rumors that Home Secretary Priti Patel could lose her job, but this has since been reported to be less likely.
Downing Street has confirmed that Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) Rishi Sunak will remain in office.
Earlier, three ministers appeared to confirm their own departures.
The first to hint he was leaving was Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who himself made an announcement on Twitter. He was quickly followed by Justice Minister Robert Buckland, while Housing Minister Robert Jenrick also tweeted about his exit.
The Johnson government has come under pressure on several fronts and has seen its popularity drop, according to opinion polls. He recently announced a tax hike to fund social care for the elderly; rising coronavirus cases pose a threat to hospitals and the country is plagued by pandemic and Brexit supply shortages.
It was not immediately clear whether Williamson would move to another ministerial post after leaving education, but he made no mention of a new job, so it seems likely he will return to the backbench .
Williamson said he was proud of the reforms in the education of over 16s. However, he has come under heavy criticism for the disruption of exams, school closings and his department’s handling of the pandemic.
In his previous role as Secretary of Defense, he has been ridiculed for saying that “Russia should go and shut up” following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and of his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Robert Buckland’s departure as Minister of Justice sparked some sympathy on social media, especially from a senior opposition MP who thanked him for the changes to domestic violence and violence against women.
Boris Johnson was confirmed earlier to shake up his cabinet on Wednesday, attempting to go through a series of political missteps and U-turns.
His office said the prime minister would appoint “a strong and united team to better rebuild after the pandemic”.
Green MP Caroline Lucas said the reshuffle was a “cheap move,” implying it was intended as a distraction from a planned cut in welfare by the government.
Johnson carried out a sweeping government reshuffle after his victory in the December 2019 election, sidelining lawmakers seen as insufficiently loyal or lukewarm in their support for Britain’s departure from the European Union.
This has left him with a strong pro-Brexit front-line team, but critics say it has excluded many ambitious and knowledgeable lawmakers from the government.