23 July 2019

The United Kingdom welcomes a new prime minister. The Institute for Government team – Dr Catherine Haddon, Tim Durrant, Gavin Freeguard, Aron Cheung, Lee Wratten and Melissa Ittoo – provide insight, comment and charts as events unfold.

31 July 2019 18:49

Government formation summary, part three – diversity

Much of the briefing before the government formation was about how diverse the new government would be. Is it?

More women are full Cabinet ministers than under May, but the gender balance has tilted towards men.

Gender Balance of Cabinet before and afterAnd the key Brexit Cabinet committee is all male.

Just under a third of all ministers are female…

Gender balance across government - before and after

…and the Treasury and DExEU are among a number of all-male departments.

Gender balance by departmentGender balance by department - before and afterThere are more minority ethnic ministers attending Cabinet than in the rest of British political history combined.

Minority ethnic Cabinet attendees - 2002 to 2019

We have our first Cabinet ministers from the 2017 (Alister Jack) and 2015 (James Cleverly) intakes…

Intake…and six posts across government are occupied by those elected for the first time in 2017.

Intake across governmentIntake by departmentThat’s it from us. We’ll see you for the next reshuffle/government formation, whenever that might be... Until then:

A huge thanks for following over the last week and a bit, and to all our IfG colleagues for their insight and support.

31 July 2019 18:35

Government formation summary, part two – the rest of government

As hours stretched into days and days stretched into, and beyond, the weekend, junior ministerial appointments started trickling through (unhelpfully, they weren’t tweeted out by Number 10 as the Cabinet appointments had been).

The full list of government ministers was published yesterday (Tuesday) evening.

Block chart - 30 July 2019 1630

We expect more details of what individual ministers will be responsible for in the coming days. It now seems that Seema Kennedy will be the parliamentary under secretary of state responsible for immigration policy – in recent times, ministers of state attending Cabinet have been responsible for the area, something of a downgrade.

Some departments – notably the Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland and Scotland Offices – have more ministers than before. Others – including DExEU and the Wales Office – have fewer.

Change in number of ministerial posts by department July 2019

The Cabinet Office/DExEU changes may reflect work on preparing for no deal moving from DExEU to the CO – DExEU's responsibilities are slightly unclear.

Two-thirds of all ministers across government are new to their roles as of the last week.

Which PM appointed to current post

Although five - Cairns (Wales), Gibb (DfE), Howe (deputy Lords leader), Younger (Lords whip) and Keen (advocate general for Scotland) – remain in the posts given to them by David Cameron.

Only two departments – the Wales Office and the Office of the Leader of the House of Lords – are not welcoming any new ministers.

All the ministers at MHCLG and in the Scotland Office are new to their role (though Jake Berry was promoted within the former).

As we’ve noted often during the last week, excessive ministerial turnover can be disruptive to the business of government, as ministers get to grips with new briefs and civil servants adapt to new priorities and personalities.

31 July 2019 18:25

Government formation summary, part one – the Cabinet

Almost exactly a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson started forming his government, with some surprise exits from the Cabinet, and more than a week after we kicked off this live blog, we’re going to bring things to a close.

But not before a quick summary of the key points. Here are some charts. (Obviously.)

33 Cabinet ministers were appointed last Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900

19 ministers left the Cabinet, a record in recent handovers of power between two prime ministers of the same party…

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 25 July 2019 0900

...with many experienced ministers departing...

Cabinet experience ministers attending cabinet

…and with many ministers new to their roles, and new to Cabinet altogether.

Churn at Cabinet reshuffles - 1997 to 2019

Ten ministers who resigned under May are back in government.

Non-reshuffle resignations - LINE - 18 July.png

Eight – Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Jo Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, George Eustice, Chris Heaton-Harris, Nigel Adams – resigned over Brexit. Priti Patel and Amber Rudd are the other two.

The Cabinet is as large as it’s ever been…

Cabinet attending full Johnson May Cameron Brown Blair Major Thatcher 1989 2019

…although a lot of key decisions are likely to be taken by Cabinet committees, the number of which has fallen from 24 to just six.

CC existence bar (29.07.19)

The key committee is the EU Exit Strategy (XS) ‘war cabinet’, consisting of six people: Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid (HMT), Dominic Raab (FCO), Stephen Barclay (DExEU), Geoffrey Cox (attorney general) and the minister in charge of no deal planning, Michael Gove.

30 July 2019 18:35

End of day 6

We’re going to have to end it there for the day – but we do have some more charts and analysis to come on various characteristics of our new crop of ministers.

Here’s one such chart, of when ministers attending Cabinet first entered parliament:


The 2010 intake predominates in both Theresa May’s final Cabinet, and in Boris Johnson’s first one. But we have members of the 2015 intake (James Cleverly, Rishi Sunak, Oliver Dowden) and 2017 intake (Alister Jack) in Cabinet for the first time. The only person from before 2005 left? That’s the prime minister himself (2001), although he has left and re-entered parliament in the meantime (as has housing minister, Esther McVey).

Anyway, here’s a two-chart summary…

The full line-up of government ministers has now been confirmed…

Block chart - 30 July 2019 1630


…with the Scotland and Northern Ireland Office among those with more ministers before, and DExEU and the Wales Office among those with fewer.

Change in number of ministerial posts by department July 2019

(Though note that the drop of one at DfID reflects the fact that equalities ministers – Baroness Williams and Victoria Atkins – are now counted elsewhere.)

30 July 2019 18:17

A sense of direction

Elsewhere, Civil Service World reports that:

Departmental permanent secretaries must ask for ministerial directions if they feel that government spending to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit does not represent value for money, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Starmer has written to cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to urge him to ensure that perm secs across government ask for ministerial directions if their planned spending on no-deal preparations does not meet Treasury guidelines.

‘What’s a ministerial direction?’, I hear you ask. We do, of course, have an explainer for that:

Ministerial directions are formal instructions from ministers telling their department to proceed with a spending proposal, despite an objection from their permanent secretary.

Each permanent secretary – the most senior civil servant in each department – is also the ‘accounting officer’ for their department: the person who Parliament would call to account for how the department spends its money. They have a duty to seek a ministerial direction if they think a spending proposal breaches any of the following criteria:

  • Regularity – if the proposal is beyond the department’s legal powers, or agreed spending budgets
  • Propriety – if it doesn’t meet ‘high standards of public conduct’, such as appropriate governance or parliamentary expectations
  • Value for money – if something else, or doing nothing, would be cheaper and better
  • Feasibility – if there is doubt about the proposal being ‘implemented accurately, sustainably or to the intended timetable’

The permanent secretary of a department writes to their Secretary of State expressing their concerns, seeking a direction.

In response, the ministerial direction instructs the permanent secretary to implement the decision. As a result of this direction, the minister, not the permanent secretary, is now accountable for the decision.

More recently, ‘technical directions’ have been used to allow departments to spend money on Brexit before the relevant legislation has been through parliament.

One to keep an eye on…

Ministerial direction dot plot - 25 July 2019

30 July 2019 18:07

Departmental ups and downs

Now that we have a full list of the ministers who make up the new government (although it's still unclear, as yet, as to what some of their responsibilities will be), we now know which departments have gained and lost ministers.

Change in number of ministerial posts by department July 2019

Of particular note is the loss of two ministers at the Department for Exiting the European Union, and the gain of three at the Cabinet Office. This may reflect work on preparing for no deal moving from DExEU to the CO - DExEU's responsibilities are slightly unclear, as we nopted at 15:51 yesterday. An additional minister for both the Northern Ireland Office and Scotland Office may also underline PM Johnson’s stated commitment to the union and restoration of power sharing in Northern Ireland - although the Wales Office has lost a minister. Along with these changes BEIS, DfID, MHCLG, DfE, and DIT have all lost a minister.

Although the Home Office has the same number of ministers, it doesn't seem that there is an immigration minister, as we've become used to in recent years.

Immigration Ministers - 2010-19Joe has some views on that in the thread below:

Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle was v efficient (brutally at times)

But he's still not appointed an immigration minister.

Despite some big announcements, Johnson's approach to immigration looks a bit... confused...

— Joe Owen (@jl_owen) July 30, 2019

30 July 2019 16:47

Your new government, in full

Nearly six days after it started, it looks like the process of appointing ministers is over. Here’s your new government:

Block chart - 30 July 2019 1630

A few highlights:

  • Only the Wales Office and Office of the Leader of the House of Lords have had no new appointments (though Lord Bourne quit the former)
  • DExEU (down from five ministers to three), DIT (the Lords minister position vacated by Baroness Fairhead in May remaining unfilled), DfE (Anne Milton not being directly replaced), and the Wales Office (Bourne not being replaced) have fewer ministers than before. The number of Lords whips is also lower than it has been
  • Caroline Nokes doesn’t appear to have been directly replaced as immigration minister
  • The Northern Ireland Office has gained a minister
  • Of the seven ministers appointed to their roles by David Cameron, five – Cairns (Wales), Gibb (DfE), Howe (deputy Lords leader), Younger (Lords whip) and Keen (advocate general for Scotland) – remain in post. Lord Taylor (former Lords chief whip) and David Mundell (former Scottish secretary) departed government last week.

30 July 2019 12:11

Midday ministerial moves update

A very small update to bring you – eagle-eyed tweeter @HoHoHoWto has spotted that Baroness Buscombe, previously a minister at DWP (and before that, a Lords whip) is no longer listed as part of the government.

Block chart - 30 July 2019 1200

We already knew Baroness Stedman-Scott had moved from the Lords whips’ office to DWP, so now presume that was to replace Buscombe.

30 July 2019 10:58

30 July 2019 10:44

Day of Brecon-ing

Our 18:20 update yesterday looked at the erosion of the government's working majority. It could dwindle further if the Conservatives lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election this Thursday.

Here's Lee with a useful thread on by-elections back to 1945.

30 July 2019 09:54

Day 6

Good morning!

Well, here we are again. It feels like we’re now pretty close to having a full roster of government ministers, with a number of Lords ministers and whips being confirmed in post or appointed last night.

Block chart - 30 July 2019 0900


  • It seems having a surname beginning with ‘B’ is helpful if you want to be a Lords whip, with Baronesses Berridge and Bloomfield and Lord Bethell being appointed
  • Baroness Stedman-Scott moves from the whips’ office to DWP.

Confirmation in post:

  • Lord Elie as advocate general for Scotland (and Lords justice spokesperson)
  • Baroness Blackwood at DHSC
  • Earl of Courtown as deputy chief whip
  • Lord Young – George Young – as a whip. That means he serves his fifth prime minister, having held office under Thatcher, Major, Cameron and May as well.

A few other bits and pieces of relevance this morning…

I have some words in The Times, in their story, ‘High pace of ministerial turnover is new normal’. They find that the Cabinet Office has had the most ministers since 1997 – 18.

Gavin Freeguard, of the Institute for Government, said the high turnover of ministers is “damaging for government departments” because it disrupts the delivery of policies.

“Every new minister that comes in will need time to get to grips with their new brief, and their civil servants will need time to adapt to new priorities and personalities,” he said.

“Since 2010 we’ve seen seven secretaries of state for justice and seven prison ministers, when prisons have been a public service under real pressure.”

Playbook reports that:

Michael Gove will today chair the first daily meeting of the new no-deal Cabinet committee as Whitehall gets serious about leaving the EU in three months’ time. He will gather senior ministers including Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak at 3.45 p.m. in the Cabinet Office briefing room normally used for emergency COBRA meetings.

CC existence bar (29.07.19)

The new Cabinet committee line-up was announced yesterday, with just six bodies compared to 24 committees, sub-committees and taskforces under May. (We’ll keep an eye on whether they proliferate at any point. The other key committee is expected to be EU Exit Strategy (XS) ‘war cabinet’, which has just six members.

Playbook also reports that senior No. 10 adviser Dominic Cummings has vetoed one of Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay’s choices as a new special adviser – while his former spad, Kenny Ferguson, has also left.

DExEU bar

Since it was created in 2016, and even before this government formation, there’s been a large amount of turnover of both ministers (Robin Walker – there since the start – has now moved, along with James Cleverly and Kwasi Kwarteng) and officials.

And the New Statesman reports that Mark Garnier has joined Steve Baker (who turned down a return to government) and Harriet Baldwin (who left her joint ministerial post at the Foreign Office and DfID) in the race to replace Nicky Morgan as Treasury select committee chair. You can read our interview with Garnier on his time as a minister here – and indeed, Nicky Morgan’s Ministers Reflect interview here.

This is what Morgan had to say about being promoted in a reshuffle (to education secretary, in July 2014):

Nicola Hughes: You were saying before about when you get a ministerial job you’re straight into it. What was it like going straight over to the new role?

Nicky Morgan: I think I went back to the Treasury, picked up my stuff and said ‘I’m off’ and then literally within about half an hour I was arriving at the Department for Education [DfE]. None of the civil servants in the DfE expected there to be a move either, although I think they knew that their previous Secretary of State had been headline news for a bit, and so they were busy trying to sort of sort things out. They did remarkably well, given that it was a shock for everybody concerned. Of course you don’t have the luxury of having been in opposition and then being elected to government to think ‘OK I’ve had time to prepare my policy programmes and what I want to do’ you’ve got to hit the ground running. You’re inheriting other people’s policies and then potentially making changes, because obviously normally the PM will say ‘I’d like you to do more of this or less of that’ or whatever it is. So you’re trying to make the machine do that. The only saving grace was that actually it was just at the end of the Parliamentary term, July, so I think I had about a week and then it was recess and then the pressure was off a bit. Nobody expects to hear from you that often in recess.

29 July 2019 20:01

End of day 5

Well that was nearly an anti-climax (or more of an anti-climax). Here’s a quick summary of the day:

Junior ministerial appointments were made over the weekend, with Commons whips being appointed this evening.

Block chart - 29 July 2019 1900We’re now just waiting for the Lords whips, and any other odds and ends to be tidied up.

There are only six Cabinet committees, down from 24 similar bodies under May.

CC existence bar (29.07.19)

Cabinet committees are groups of ministers smaller than full Cabinet that can take decisions binding across government. What looks to be the key committee - EU Exit Strategy (XS) – has just six members. More in our 11:19 and 11:58 updates.

We published a report on preparing for a no deal Brexit.

You can read the whole thing here, or read a thread from Joe summarising it below:

See you tomorrow, when we might have the full government line-up for you.

29 July 2019 19:17

Following the whip

You wait all day for a ministerial announcement…

(and are halfway through a ‘that’s all for today, wasn’t it an anti-climax?’ update…)

Block chart - 29 July 2019 1900

It looks like the Commons whips positions have all been filled. To the senior appointments made over the weekend (check out our 10:53 update) we can now add promotions within the whips’ office for Michelle Donelan; confirmation in post for Mike Freer, Rebecca Harris, Nusrat Ghani (which we knew from the announcement of her other, new role), Kevin Foster (ditto), Iain Stewart, and David Rutley (although the government seems to be announcing that as an appointment, both GOV.UK and parliament.uk say he’s held the role for a while); and appointments for Colin Clark (which, again, we knew earlier), Leo Docherty, Tom Purslove, James Morris, Nigel Huddleston and Marcus Jones (previously a minister at DCLG).

That probably leaves us with just the Lords whips' to confirm, unless there are any other appointments we've missed.

29 July 2019 18:20

Parliament: nothing has changed?

Prime minister Boris Johnson ‘has exactly the same parliamentary arithmetic to deal with as May’, noted Tim in a comment picked up all over the place last week.

Cast your mind back to 2015. An election shortly after a divisive referendum delivered an unexpected result – a small majority for David Cameron.

Cast your mind back to 2017. An election shortly after a divisive referendum delivered an unexpected result – this time, a minority government led by Theresa May with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party.

HoC Mosaic 22 July 2019 (with 2015).png

Since then, things have only become more complicated, with government MPs defecting to (and then from) The Independent Group/Change UK, and other MPs resigning the whip or having it withdrawn.

HoC working majority mosaic 29 July 2019.png

The Government’s working majority is currently 4 and is likely to shrink again later this week at the results of the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

Government working majority since 2017.png


Added to the wafer-thin majority was a growing willingness among Conservative MPs to defy the whip on key votes: as Theresa May’s majority in Parliament dwindled, she faced an increase in parliamentary defeats.

Govt defeats 22 July 2019

And in removing so many of May’s ministers from government, Prime Minister Johnson may have created a further group of rebels willing to defy the whip on key votes. What is certain is that he will face similar challenges to his predecessor in seeking to pass important legislation – whether Brexit-related or not.

29 July 2019 16:30

Joint ventures

Johnny Mercer’s appointment yesterday as ‘minister for defence people and veterans’ in both the Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office (overseeing a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs) is one of a number of joint ministerial appointments.

Joint ministers by department 2019Indeed, there are now more joint ministers than at any point since David Cameron was prime minister.

Joint Ministers 1998-July 2019

But what are they?

As we noted in Reshaping Government, there are (broadly) three types:

  • Genuine ‘ministers sans frontières’ – as described in our 2010 report Shaping Up – with cross-cutting portfolios (e.g. Minister of State for Trade, split between FCO and BIS or predecessor departments, before the creation of DIT)
  • Ministers holding different briefs in different departments (e.g. David Laws was Minister of State for Schools at DfE while also holding a strategic cross-government policy role in the Cabinet Office)
  • Some whips who also hold junior ministerial positions; the Public Administration Select Committee suggested these ‘nominal’ positions could be used to work around statutory limits on the number of whips.

Many of those appointed this time round seem to fall into the first category (think Jo Johnson as universities minister, or Zac Goldsmith’s new role, as well as Mercer). And the recent tradition of joint ministers between DfID and the Foreign Office continues (indeed, three of the five current DfID ministers are joint ministers).

Opinion is divided as to how effective they are. New Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, was generally “quite a fan of having double-hatted ministers”, reflecting on her time at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where nearly all of the team were shared with other departments. This, she argued, “worked quite well in preventing the silo mentality” and “different linkages being made” across government. Another former BIS minister, Mark Prisk – though not himself a joint minister – was less convinced:

Some of the departments still have a silo mentality. I’m not wholly sure that having ministers across two departments actually changes that. I think that’s superficial, what it means is no one is quite sure whether the person is in their department or the other department.

Nick Boles worked as a joint minister between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education as Minister of State for Skills between 2014 and 2016. He said that

I worked out that the beauty of being skills minister across two departments was that neither Secretary of State was my boss, completely

But there was a risk of extra bureaucracy around joint appointments,

if you interpret them as having an office in two departments, it can become a huge waste of time. I used to refuse to go to the DfE except for the weekly meeting. This idea of having two offices and a private office, all moving when the buildings were 150 yards apart, I just thought all that was nonsense.

Nonetheless, he thought there was some value to the idea:

if there’s real substance in it [the joint appointment] that you can make more happen, then I think it’s worth doing

The role of joint minister can create some ‘"surreal moments’", as Damian Green, former Minister of State at both the Home Office and Ministry of Justice explained:

There was one point where I was required to write to myself as one minister in a department to another, demanding that something happen, which I was tempted to do just to see how the system would cope with this!

29 July 2019 15:51

All change at DExEU?

The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) kept its secretary of state, Steve Barclay, in this reshuffle. But with the departure of Robin Walker to a joint ministerial role at the Scotland and Northern Ireland Offices, it has now lost the only remaining minister who had been in the department since it was created after the 2016 referendum.

DExEU 29 July 2019Two former DExEU ministers have moved to other roles in Government (James Cleverly to the Cabinet Office and Kwasi Kwarteng to BEIS). We do not yet know if their vacancies at DExEU will be filled. Of the other two junior ministers, Lord Callanan has served at DExEU for almost two years; and James Duddridge has rejoined the Government as a parliamentary under-secretary of state at DExEU, having held the same rank at the Foreign Office 2014-2016.

Reports over the weekend suggested that the Cabinet Office, under Michael Gove, is now managing preparations for a no deal exit. Co-ordinating preparations for no deal was something that DExEU had previously been in charge of, but it’s not yet clear if or how this change will affect the department’s role or whether its staff will be moving to the Cabinet Office. Given there is not long before 31 October, rearranging responsibilities between departments is probably not the best use of this time, as Tim wrote a few weeks back:

Restructuring risks more than financial costs – it can hinder the smooth running of government. Would-be prime ministers need to recognise that while civil servants are managing the project of creating new or reorganised departments, they will not be able to devote the same amount of attention to dealing with the issues the new body was created to address.

Previous DExEU ministers have spoken about the quality of the work done by its officials, despite the uncertainty they face and the political changes they’ve weathered. David Jones, who was a Minister of State at DExEU until the 2017 General Election, said that:

I was hugely impressed by the professionalism of the civil service... The civil service is one of the greatest national resources of this country. The sheer professionalism of the officials who were taking on the biggest challenge that this country has had since the Second World War, and being quite prepared to deal with it, was so impressive.

29 July 2019 14:51

More on no deal – in three charts and two media appearances

We mentioned our new report on preparing for no deal earlier (at 11:45 to be precise).

As well as talking about it on the Today programme, Joe’s also been on BBC News…

…and on Sky News:

There are also three charts in the report, and you know how much we love charts, so…

No deal will have a huge impact on UK relationships beyond the EU

IAs RAG 25 07 19.

Civil servants have been working to ‘roll over’ – replicate in a new agreement – the 36 free-trade agreements (FTAs) that the UK is party to as an EU member state. The government had hoped to have all of these ready to go on exit day but has made far less progress than it wanted. It has managed to roll over 13, but many of those are considered to be incomplete – they do not offer full continuity. The government has said that engagement is ongoing on all the remaining 23, but it seems highly unlikely it will get close to the total number by 31 October…

There are also agreements covering other areas of co-operation. It has made better progress on these. It has for example signed air-services continuity and nuclear co-operation agreements with key countries, including the US and Canada. Although government analysis shows there are still a large number of agreements outstanding, the final few months will be an opportunity to try and fill those gaps.

But again there are areas where the other country does not want to simply roll over the existing deal. The US, for example, though rolling over nearly all of its existing agreements with the EU, has not agreed to do the same for some of the most controversial ones – such as on data sharing.


The government will not pass all its Brexit bills before 31 October

Brexit bill tracker 25 07 19

No further legislation is needed for the UK to leave the EU without a deal. When Parliament passed the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act in 2017, it gave the prime minister the legal authority to trigger Article 50, which, under EU law, started a two-year negotiating period with a deadline of 29 March 2019 (subsequently extended to 31 October). If the deadline is not extended again, then under international law the UK will leave the EU on 31 October.

Parliament has also already passed the main bill needed to manage the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on the domestic side. The EU Withdrawal Act 2018 repeals the European Community Act 1972, ‘copy and pastes’ EU law into UK law – creating a new category of ‘retained EU law’ – and gives ministers powers to amend that law to make sure it will continue to be functional after the UK has left the EU…

Although ministers’ powers under the Withdrawal Act should ensure there are no significant gaps in domestic law even under a no-deal situation, failure to pass the legislation setting out new policy frameworks after Brexit means UK law is essentially ‘frozen’ and ministers have limited ability to either update laws in line with developments or to implement policy changes. So while the government has been able to put off passing these bills as tensions in Parliament have increased, all of this legislation will have to return to the Commons at some point.


A quick and easy deal with the EU is unlikely

EU FTAs chart 24 07 19

Even if Johnson could persuade the EU negotiators to offer him his perfect deal in the months that follow a no-deal Brexit, he will face an almighty headache with a new ratification procedure. Outside the Article 50 process – which was deliberately designed to facilitate a smooth exit by requiring only a ‘qualified majority’ of EU member states to agree – a more complex process will be needed. Whether a limited deal on an issue of shared competence like citizens’ rights or a more comprehensive deal closer to the level of the UK’s ambition, ratification would need the unanimous support of all EU27 leaders. The UK therefore risks being held hostage by the demands of just one state.

The process of parliamentary ratification becomes more complicated in this scenario, too. Any agreement would need a majority in the European Parliament (i.e. over 350 MEPs) and then ratification by national and, in some cases, regional parliaments in the EU. Where ratification on the UK side was what sunk Theresa May’s deal, it would be EU leaders and their parliaments standing in the way of a new deal for Johnson.

29 July 2019 13:51

Still no immigration minister

No immigration minister has (yet) been appointed at the Home Office. Under Theresa May, this role was one of the highest profile junior ministers, with successive appointees attending Cabinet (most recently, Caroline Nokes). The new Prime Minister has signaled that he intends to drop May’s immigration target, and the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, wrote an op-ed over the weekend setting out her vision for a new immigration system. This system appears to be very different to the one envisioned under the previous Prime Minister, which was set out in a white paper last year and which the Home Office has been discussing with businesses and other interested groups. That system was intended to be up and running in early 2021.

Immigration Ministers - 2010-19We wrote earlier in the year about the challenges the Government faces in setting up a new, post-Brexit migration regime, because currently the Home Office is not ready or able to meet the challenge of ending free movement after we leave the EU. Our report lays bare the flaws in the immigration system that have led to a series of crises and to reorganisations designed to solve the last set of problems rather than address future needs:

‘Taking back control’ of immigration is about much more than just designing and implementing a new immigration system. Over the past 15 years, the UK has come to depend on the free movement of workers from the EU to meet skills gaps and labour shortages. Large numbers have moved to the UK from the EU without coming into contact with the UK immigration system.

The task of managing immigration completely changes in both scale and strategic importance once free movement ends. Government policy decisions – which will need to balance the concerns of voters with the demands of businesses – will be even more significant for the economy. This new challenge comes at a time when, because of high-profile failures, public confidence in the Home Office is low.

When the immigration minister is appointed, they will be busy guiding the legislation for the new system through Parliament. Damian Green, who served as immigration minister 2010-12, told us about the volume of legislation he was responsible for – and the amount of time he spent dealing with legal challenges – during his time in the role:

There must have been more JRs [Judicial Reviews] against me than anyone else in the country during the period I was doing that. So all the time, and a lot of the life of an immigration minister is trying to devise the laws, SIs [Statutory Instruments] and so on, and stop the will of the government being frustrated by judges trying to make legislation, and not just primary legislation but secondary legislation, watertight so it can’t be over-interpreted by judges. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.

29 July 2019 11:58

Cabinet committees in context

Some quick reactions to the publication of the list of Cabinet committees (see our 11:19 update)…

Headlines from Cath:

PM chairs 4/6

Gove chairs no deal

Rees-Mogg (as is normal) chairs PBL

I suspect more will come/ grow, but cabinet committees very much in need of some rationalisation

Here's the link: https://t.co/1myp2Jitas https://t.co/whsAi3xaHl

— Dr Catherine Haddon (@cath_haddon) July 29, 2019

A thread from Jill:

some thoughts about the Cab Cttee list.. arguably reflects Cummings view that key decisions can only be made with 6-7 people.. true of XS - but also smaller NSC (I think) https://t.co/XjpeCFdDjs

— Jill Rutter (@jillongovt) July 29, 2019

And from me… I wrote about Theresa May’s switch from command to compromise in her approach to Cabinet committees for Civil Service World last summer (and there’s some more in Whitehall Monitor 2019).

29 July 2019 11:45

Preparing for no deal

This morning, we published a new report looking at what the Prime Minister will need to do in the next 94 days to prepare for no deal, and what he will have to do after 31 October if the UK has left the EU without a deal.

In short, it finds that to be ready for no-deal, PM Boris Johnson:

  • Must kick-start the Government’s no deal preparations immediately – moving thousands of civil servants into operational centres and starting extensive communications to business. Ministers, new in post, should not rip up existing no deal plans and policies.
  • Cannot assume the UK – particularly businesses – are ready for no deal (indeed, they may be less ready for no deal in October than in March).
  • Must bring in legislation to introduce direct rule in Northern Ireland with immediate effect from 31 October if the Executive has not been restored. Other Brexit bills stuck in Parliament are not strictly required until after no deal.
  • Accept there is no such thing as a ‘managed no deal’ and rely instead on EU unilateral measures.

But the paper argues that a no deal Brexit would not be a clean break but would dominate government for years to come:

  • The Union will come under unprecedented pressure – with Northern Ireland most acutely affected by the economic impact and facing major constitutional effects.
  • Major showdowns in Parliament would continue, on the Budget or Queen’s Speech – both due shortly after 31 October.
  • It will drain Whitehall’s capacity – at least 16,000 officials will be working on Brexit by the Autumn and numbers are likely to rise after no deal.
  • The UK would still need a deal with the EU on future trade, but that would be more complex and harder to agree.
  • Struggling or failing businesses will look to the Government for support.

Here’s Joe talking about the report on the Today programme:


Read the full report here.

29 July 2019 11:19

Government by committee

Cabinet committees have been in the news over the weekend.

What’s a Cabinet committee? I’m glad you asked (and, of course, we have an explainer for that).

In short:

Cabinet committees are groups of ministers that can “take collective decisions that are binding across government”. They are partly designed to reduce the burden on the full Cabinet by allowing smaller groups of ministers to take decisions on specific policy areas.

They’re where a lot of government business gets done.

The Sunday Times reported on the new Brexit ‘war cabinet’ yesterday:

In a Whitehall revolution, Johnson will make every decision on Brexit policy with a team of just six senior ministers — all of them Brexiteers who support no deal.

Those six ministers – all men – are PM Johnson, chancellor Javid, foreign secretary Raab, Brexit secretary Barclay, attorney general Cox and the minister in charge of no deal planning, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove. Other secretaries of state will attend as necessary. That’s considerably smaller than the committee’s 13-strong predecessor (this would have been the line-up had it continued in that form). It’s much closer to the ideal view of Cabinet espoused by Dominic Cummings, now a senior adviser in No. 10, summarised by Civil Service World:

“You have to shrink the cabinet,” Cummings said in 2014. “The idea of a cabinet of over 30 people is a complete farce; it should be maximum of probably six or seven people.”

Note that the current Cabinet has 33 attendees.

According to Playbook,

The other important new Cabinet committee to get your head around is Gove’s daily no-deal planning group, which will meet every weekday morning starting tomorrow. This will be known officially as the “daily operations committee,” or XO for short. In a Cabinet conference call yesterday Gove told colleagues these meetings will be a serious business. “He told Cabinet that there will be clear lines of accountability, that XO will agree actions, make decisions and solve problems — and all with specific deadlines,” a source said. XO “will kick important issues up to either the PM direct, or XS where necessary.” Among those on the committee will be the new chief secretary to the Treasury, Brexiteer Rishi Sunak, whose presence is designed to ensure full Treasury buy-in to this brave new world. The daily XO meeting will be held in the Cabinet Office briefing rooms which gave emergency COBRA meetings their name. The message to the public is clear — the government is now in crisis mode.

The membership of that has just been published. As well as Gove, Raab and Barclay, it will include Patel (Home Office), Hancock (DHSC), Leadsom (BEIS), Villiers (Defra), Shapps (Transport), Smith (Northern Ireland), Jack (Scotland), Cairns (Wales), Sunak (chief secretary to the Treasury), Dowden (Cabinet Office) and – interestingly – an official, the chief executive of HMRC.

If the list of Cabinet committees just published captures all of them, then it’s a dramatic break with recent practice. There are just six Cabinet committees – the two described above, and on EU Exit, Economy and Trade, on Domestic Affairs and the Union, on Parliamentary Business and Legislation, and the National Security Council.

Cabinet committee existence January 2019

That’s down from 24 bodies at the end of May’s administration. Gone are previous committees, previous sub-committees and the ‘implementation taskforces’ – designed “to monitor and drive delivery of the Government’s most important cross-cutting priorities” – introduced by David Cameron and continued by Theresa May.

29 July 2019 10:53

Live blog – day 5

Good morning, and welcome back.

There were a number of ministerial appointments over the weekend. Unfortunately, Number 10 have not been as helpful as they were when they were tweeting out each and every Cabinet appointment, so we’ve constructed the list of weekend moves from @PARLYapp tweeting various press releases (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and checking GOV.UK.

We think this is the current state of the government…

Block chart - 29 July 2019 1000

…and that the ministerial merry-go-round is as follows:

  • Lord Duncan retains his role as parliamentary under secretary PUSS at NIO, but is now joint with BEIS rather than, as before, Scotland
  • Jo Churchill moves from the Commons whips’ office to DHSC, replacing…
  • Seema Kennedy, who moves to the Home Office
  • Heather Wheeler has moved from MHCLG to the Foreign Office
  • Luke Hall enters government as a junior minister at MHCLG
  • Appropriately well-travelled for a new transport minister is Paul Maynard – whose role as a whip had been unfilled after he moved MoJ in the mini-reshuffle resulting from Gavin Williamson’s sacking as defence secretary in early May
  • Wendy Morton moves from the whips’ office to fill Paul Maynard’s role at MoJ
  • Baroness Barran moves from the Lords whips’ office to DCMS, where she replaces Lord Ashton – newly-installed as Lords chief whip
  • Mims Davies – who had been at DCMS – moves to DWP
  • Matt Warman moves from the whips’ office to DCMS – he has experience on the science and technology select committee and as technology editor of the Telegraph to bring to his digital role
  • Robin Walker – the only minister to have been at the Department for Exiting the European Union since its creation in July 2016 – has moved, to the Northern Ireland Office. He’ll be minister for the union (a title the new prime minister has also taken for himself, as per Jill’s comments at 17:40 on Friday)
  • James Duddridge – a whip and junior FCO minister under David Cameron – returns to government as a junior minister at DExEU. Three junior ministers have left DExEU in the last few days – as well as Robin Walker, they are James Cleverly (to party chair and minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office) and Kwasi Kwarteng (BEIS), both attending Cabinet
  • Nadine Dorries – a former nurse who supported Boris Johnson in the 2016 leadership contest – becomes a junior minister at DHSC
  • Zac Goldsmith – long-time environmental campaigner, member of the environmental audit committee and former candidate for mayor of London – becomes a junior minister at Defra and DfID
  • Simon Clarke – who entered parliament in 2017 – also enters government for the first time. He becomes exchequer secretary to the Treasury, replacing Robert Jenrick, who entered Cabinet at MHCLG on Wednesday evening
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan enters government as a junior defence minister. She resigned from her role as a parliamentary private secretary (to ministers at the Department for Education) over Brexit in November 2018
  • Kemi Badenoch replaces Nadhim Zahawi as parliamentary under secretary of state for children and families after he moved to BEIS
  • Colin Clark – another member of the 2017 intake of MPs, and a member of the Treasury select committee (already looking for a new chair after Nicky Morgan’s return to government) – becomes a junior minister at the Scotland Office and a government whip
  • Viscount Younger of Leckie replaces Lord Bourne as the Lords minister in the MHCLG team. GOV.UK reckons he continues as a whip, a role he was appointed to by David Cameron
  • Simon Hart becomes a parliamentary secretary (a junior minister) at the Cabinet Office. He was previously a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee
  • Amanda Milling is promoted within the Commons whips’ office to replace Christopher Pincher (now a junior foreign officer minister) as deputy chief whip
  • Jeremy Quin also moves up within the whips’ office, replacing new chief whip Mark Spencer as Comptroller of HM Household
  • Stuart Andrew returns to the Commons whips’ office in place of Craig Whittaker. Andrew had been a junior minister at MoD, and previously served as a whip (and a junior minister at the Wales Office). PARLY has some more details on what his role, Vice Chamberlain of HM Household, actually involves
  • Johnny Mercer enters government in a joint ministerial role between the Cabinet Office and MoD, as minister for ‘defence people and veterans’.

Judging by GOV.UK’s updates, a few ministers have left roles:

  • Mark Field, who had been suspended from his role as foreign officer minister
  • Earl Howe leaves the MoD but remains deputy leader of the Lords
  • Jackie Doyle-Price, DHSC
  • Lord Henley, BEIS
  • David Rutley, Defra
  • Andrew Jones, DfT.

That means we're most of the way there - though there are a fair few roles in both whips' offices that appear vacant as things stand. Do tell us if we've missed anything.

26 July 2019 18:10

End of Day 4

It’s almost inevitable that, as soon as I publish this, a full list of the new Government will be released.

But assuming that doesn’t happen, we’re bringing the live blog to a close for another day. We’ll be back on Monday with a full analysis of Boris Johnson's government.

Have a wonderful weekend, thank you for following, and here are six charts summarising what’s happened so far.

33 Cabinet ministers were appointed on Wednesday and early Thursday morning…

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900

…making it the largest Cabinet ever, despite rumours it would shrink.

Cabinet attending full Johnson May Cameron Brown Blair Major Thatcher 1989 2019

More Cabinet ministers left than in any comparable recent transfer of power…

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 25 July 2019 0900

…meaning a high percentage are new to their roles, and to Cabinet altogether.

Churn at Cabinet reshuffles - 1997 to 2019

There are more non-white Cabinet attendees than ever before, but the gender balance is worse than under May.

Gender Balance of Cabinet before and after

Junior ministerial appointments are continuing, with some roles yet to be replaced.

Block chart - 26 July 2019 1545

26 July 2019 17:52

Purdah, she wrote​

I’m sure that, at the end of this long, dramatic, uncomfortably warm week, this may be the last thing you want to think about, but…

What if there were a general election before 31 October, the day the UK is due to leave the European Union?

Dr Catherine Haddon argues that it could cause big problems for no deal preparation, and for the civil service, in a new comment:

A general election campaign before 31 October Brexit deadline would mean that no deal preparation is happening while restrictions on government activity are in place. This would both undermine those preparations and place the civil service in an unprecedented and very difficult position.

And Dr Haddon has also answered all of your questions on these restrictions, often referred to as ‘purdah’, in a new explainer.

26 July 2019 17:40

On deals and devolution​​

The EU won’t alter the Brexit reality for Boris Johnson, writes Georgina Wright in a new comment for the IfG website:

Boris Johnson’s recent Cabinet appointments, along with a promise to ramp up no deal planning, leave no doubt that his government is more ready than its predecessor to contemplate a no deal Brexit. But that has not changed EU minds. The EU thinks it is better placed to weather a no deal than the UK, can support Ireland – which would be worst affected – and may see better UK preparations as helping both sides. If the Prime Minister is hoping this tactic will get the EU to blink then it is not having that effect – yet. 

Meanwhile, Jill Rutter notes that the new Prime Minister has apparently delivered on a promise to give himself the title ‘Minister for the Union’ (the UK, rather than the EU):

Dominic Raab had notoriously not read the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement. Has the new PM?

He has added Minister for the Union to his title. That is undoubtedly designed to send a signal to the Scots – that he is determined not to see the Union unravel on his watch as a result of his sort of Brexit.

But has he thought about the signal it sends in Northern Ireland? It was the Downing Street declaration under John Major in 1993 that opened the door by saying that the UK had “no selfish no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement made that concrete in the section on constitutional issues:

“1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

(i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland;

(ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

The PM has now put himself on one side of the debate – pro-Union. That may help send a message to Scotland, but unlikely to help in Northern Ireland. It will not go down well with the Irish government (already unhappy with his approach to Brexit – but also key to unlocking any sort of deal) or with the non-unionist parties in the North where Johnson and his new NI secretary Julian Smith are already seen as close to the DUP rather than the honest brokers they are supposed to be.  And the repercussions may not stop there: the Irish/Democrat bloc in the US Congress is already watching the UK’s treatment of Ireland and Northern Ireland and could stymie a possible trade deal if they think the UK is not living up to its commitments.

And a question for Whitehall – is this oversight or intention? While we have been interviewing for our Northern Ireland project people have told us that Whitehall sees devolution issues principally through a Scottish/SNP lens and does not get its different role in Northern Ireland.

26 July 2019 16:48

The new Cabinet, in three charts

We’re now deep into the junior ministerial appointments. But as we wait for those to come through, let’s return to the top of the ministerial tree: the Cabinet.

Here are three more charts my IfG colleagues have put together.

Cabinet churn

Churn at Cabinet reshuffles - 1997 to 2019

We already know that this week’s government formation saw more Cabinet ministers exit than during any other recent transition between two prime ministers of the same party. This chart comes at the same story from a different direction, showing the percentage of all ministers attending Cabinet that are new to their post, and new to Cabinet altogether. Both figures are high compared to recent experience.

Gender balance

SoS gender 1997 to 2019 (July)

The Treasury is the only department never to have been led by a woman. The Ministry of Defence had a female secretary of state for all of 85 days at the end of the May administration.

No woman has ever been deputy prime minister, but one has held the roughly-equivalent title of first secretary of state: Barbara Castle.

Cabinet cartography

Map of Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet Constituencies

North, south, rural, urban, nations, regions, nieghbours – there’s lots to explore in these maps showing Cabinet, and Shadow Cabinet, constituencies.

26 July 2019 16:07

From resignation to return

Remember this chart?

Non-reshuffle resignations - LINE - 18 July.png

Theresa May experienced a record number of resignations in her three-year premiership – 36 – more than Thatcher and Blair did in over a decade.

Ten of those 36 have returned to government as part of Boris Johnson’s appointments (so far). Two – Priti Patel and Amber Rudd (who’s been back since November 2018) – quit over other issues, but eight resigned over Brexit.

Boris Johnson was of course one of them, resigning in July 2018:

We have postponed crucial decisions - including the preparations for no deal, as I argued in my letter to you of last November - with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.

It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws.

His brother Jo Johnson, now attending Cabinet as universities minister, resigned in November 2018, rejecting the ‘false choice between the PM’s deal and “no deal” chaos’ and writing that:

it is entirely right to go back to the people and ask them to confirm their decision to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, to give them the final say on whether we leave with the Prime Minister’s deal or without it.

Later that same week, Dominic Raab – now foreign secretary – and Esther McVey – now housing minister – were two of four ministers to resign on the same day. Raab said that he could not support the deal negotiated with the EU for two reasons – first, because ‘the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom’ and second, because of the ‘indefinite backstop arrangement’ where ‘the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit’. McVey also had concerns about ‘the integrity of the United Kingdom’ and felt the deal put before the Cabinet ‘does not honour the result of the referendum’ or meet the tests set by May from the start of her premiership.

George Eustice is now back at Defra, having resigned from there in February 2019 following the decision to extend Article 50 – with Parliament ‘in direct control of events’, he wanted ‘to be free to participate in the critical debate’ ahead.

Nigel Adams, appointed as minister of state at DCMS yesterday, resigned as a whip and from the Wales Office in April 2019 over the then-PM’s decision to talk to the Labour party:

I and many others agreed with your previous position that no deal is better than a bad deal.

It now seems that you and your cabinet have decided that a deal – cooked up with a Marxist who has never once in his political life, put British interests first – os better than no deal.

I profoundly disagree with this approach and I have therefore decided that I must reluctantly tender my resignation.

Chris Heaton-Harris – now a minister of state at Transport – resigned the same day, saying he could not support any further extension of Article 50.

Finally, new business secretary Andrea Leadsom quit her role as leader of the Commons in May 2019 (she spoke here at the IfG last week):

I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result, for the following reasons:

1. I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed;

2. I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the government willingly facilitating such a concession. It would also risk undermining our union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened;

3. There has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brexit-related legislative proposals have not been properly scrutinised or approved by cabinet members;

4. The tolerance to those in cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the government's position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.

There could have been an eleventh return, but former DExEU minister Steve Baker turned down the offer of a role yesterday.

For a bit of late Friday light relief, you can see the final version of Heidi’s data stitchification of our resignations spreadsheet on Twitter. Or learn a bit more about the cats of Whitehall here.

26 July 2019 15:48

Ministerial move: Zahawi to BEIS

The reshuffle has moved to the lowest rung of the ministerial ladder: parliamentary under secretary of state.

Nadhim Zahawi moves from DfE to BEIS.

Block chart - 26 July 2019 1545

A number of other ministers have been confirmed in post: Kelly Tolhurst at BEIS, Graham Stuart at DIT, and Victoria Atkins at the Home Office (also minister for women). The ever-useful @PARLYapp twitter account also confirms a number of ministers of state in post.

26 July 2019 15:05

Two down, one confirmed in post

Block chart - 26 July 2019 1445

Defence minister, Tobias Ellwood, is leaving government:

We saw earlier that former Scottish Conservative leader, Baroness Goldie, had been promoted. Former Welsh Conservative leader, Lord (Nick) Bourne, has tweeted that he has resigned over the government's Brexit position:

Interesting fact: Bourne lost his seat in the National Assembly for Wales (the Senedd) in the 2011 elections, after the Conservatives did better than expected - their strong performance in constituency votes meant Bourne lost his list seat.

We've also had confirmation that John Glen remains Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister.

26 July 2019 14:12

How to be an effective minister

With a number of MPs entering the Government for the first time, they may want to hear from their predecessors on how to do the job well.

Our report, How to be an effective minister, draws on interviews from our Ministers Reflect archive to provide advice to those taking on ministerial roles about how to get the most out of their time in office. It has six key pieces of advice:

  1. Have a clear sense of purpose – it’s important for ministers to know what they want to do in the role, rather than simply reacting to events
  2. Prioritise – it’s easy for ministers to get swamped with all the policy areas they’re responsible for – they need to choose which ones to focus on
  3. Make good, timely decisions – ministers need to use their political judgement to make the right call – and explain to officials how they like to work
  4. Encourage teamwork and challenge – ministers who invite challenge from officials make better decisions
  5. Win public support – ministers can build support for their decisions by talking to those affected and getting seen in the media
  6. Earn the respect of Parliament – Parliament is key to getting government business done, so working with colleagues there is essential to the ministerial role.

George Freeman, just appointed as a minister of state at the Department for Transport, gave some advice at the end of his Ministers Reflect interview:

Well, firstly I think to take the time at the beginning to make sure that the prime minister, your secretary of state and other ministers that you have to work with understand the agenda, mission that you have been given by the prime minister. And similarly with officials, to think about the officials and the departments and the officials who lead them who are going to be involved in the delivery of your programme and taking the time and trouble when you’re first appointed to go and see them or invite them in. If you’re wondering about whether it’s a good idea to have an away-day – it is! And I would take your director generals and your directors to it, make the time, find the funding, insist on it if you’ve got a set of reforms that you’re implementing, so that everybody understands the mission.

Secondly, in the end, the way the system works is officials administer according to their own minister’s expressed or implicit political priorities. And as a minister your most effective mechanism for getting your agenda driven is to make sure that ministers in the relevant departments understand and support it and make sure their officials understand it. British civil servants are phenomenally loyal to their ministers, not to you. If their ministers say it’s a priority then it is more likely to happen, then if you let them know it is a priority for you.

I suppose obviously enough, a third piece of advice would be to be very strategic and pick two or three things that you can do and focus on them and prioritise. Whitehall works on clear priorities and making sure you have two or three and everyone understands what they are is part of the job of being a minister.

26 July 2019 13:49

New appointments

Some more appointments to bring you.

Block chart - 26 July 2019 1330

Commons people

We wondered what had happened to former policing minister, Nick Hurd – he’s gone to the Northern Ireland Office.

George Freeman – once chair of Theresa May’s policy board and a former minister at DH and BIS – becomes minister of state at the Department for Transport. He replaces…

Michael Ellis, the new solicitor-general (a post vacated by new prisons minister, Lucy Frazer).

Peer review

We have a new chief whip in the Lords: Lord Ashton of Hyde moves from DCMS to replace Lord Taylor.

Baroness Goldie, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, joins the Ministry of Defence as minister of state.

And a few other Lords are confirmed in their existing minister of state posts: Baroness Williams at the Home Office (and as an equalities minister), Lord Ahmad at the Foreign Office, and Lord Callanan at the Department for International Trade.

26 July 2019 12:32

What are the different ranks of ministers?

In this reshuffle we’re seeing a number of promotions within the junior ministerial ranks, as parliamentary under-secretaries of state (PUSS) are promoted to ministers of state (MOS). These include Andrew Stephenson, who has moved from PUSS at BEIS to a join MOS role at the Foreign Office and DFID, and Thérèse Coffey who has been promoted from PUSS to MOS at Defra.

Former ministers told us about their experience of the different ministerial ranks in our Ministers Reflect programme. Lynne Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat minister during the Coalition Government, said that when she started out as a minister:

“I was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State which I found out is really the lowest of the low and you end up with a portfolio that is constructed of everything that other people didn’t want and you do everything that the secretary of state doesn’t want to do themselves.” 

Jacqui Smith, who became Home Secretary in 2007 but started her ministerial career as a parliamentary under-secretary of state, said something similar:

“quite a lot of the other work of my ministerial life was, for example, events where the invitation letter had written on the top ‘The Secretary of State doesn’t want to do this event, ask Estelle’. [laughter] And in Estelle Morris’ handwriting it said ‘No thanks, ask Jacqui’. So you sort of realised where you are in the pecking order.”

George Young talked about his move from PUSS to MOS in Margaret Thatcher’s government, noting that the new role brought more responsibility:

“I think that actually the big jump for me was going from PUSS to Minister of State under Heseltine, partly because there was a lot of delegation to ministers of state. That was quite a big jump from doing the adjournment debates, getting the bills through, signing the letters to actually driving policy; that was quite a bit step, perhaps almost a bigger step than back-bencher to PUSS.”

Whatever their ranks, junior ministers are part of a departmental team led by their secretary of state. Alan Duncan served as a minister of state at DfID during the Coalition and then again at the FCO under Theresa May, quitting when Boris Johnson became leader. He told us about what makes a good secretary of state from the point of view of a junior minister:

“Because secretaries of state can get very bossy and say you can and cannot do certain things. ‘Yes, you can go on that trip’, ‘No, you can’t and that responsibility is mine’, ‘You are not allowed to talk to Number 10’, ‘I am going to see the Prime Minister’, all that kind of stuff. And a good secretary of state will bring out the best in their ministers and enjoy their success. A poor one will be a control freak who tries to hog everything for themself and in the end they are resented, of course.”

26 July 2019 12:08

Travel plans

What can we learn from the new prime minister’s travel plans for his first few days in office, compared to his predecessor? Here’s Jill:

When she became Prime Minister, Theresa May’s first visits were to the devolved administrations – she saw Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood two days after taking over; and went to Cardiff to see Carwyn Jones within five days. She went to Belfast to see the then functioning power sharing executive a week later. May said her choice of Scotland as first port of call was to emphasise her commitment to the union – and offer an inclusive approach to Brexit. That was an early promise she singularly failed to deliver, and relations with the devolved administrations worsened. Yesterday the first Ministers of Scotland and Wales wrote to the new Prime Minister warning against the “catastrophic consequences” of no deal, demanding UK support to see them through it – and demanding a role on both international negotiations and in future migration policy.

The Johnson travel schedule (paywall)  is shaping up rather differently. After his speech yesterday in Parliament, he is today off to the West Midlands to launch his policing plan (which raises interesting questions in itself on the role of the Home Office and the Police and Crime Commissioners that were introduced by the Coalition government). Then we are told he is off to the North West and then early next week to Glasgow with a group of Ministers. Not yet clear whether Nicola Sturgeon is on the list. Further visits to Wales and Northern Ireland appear in the pipeline. One big difference for Boris Johnson is that there is no First Minister or Deputy First Minister for the new PM to meet in Belfast.

The new Northern Ireland secretary is reportedly off to Belfast today. He will need to be briefed on the consequences of no deal for Northern Ireland – which Michael Gove, now in charge of no deal planning, warned would necessitate the reimposition of direct rule. We warned before that neither leadership candidate seemed to be taking the risks in Northern Ireland seriously enough.  

But Julian Smith will also be keen to see if there is any prospect of the talks on the restoration of power sharing succeeding – a new Executive would mean ministers there could make decisions – rather than have to take them from Whitehall. To succeed he needs to be seen to be even handed between the major parties in Northern Ireland – Jess warned that his reported closeness to the DUP may not be an asset (and there’s more from Jess on power-sharing talks here). Just a reminder that Northern Ireland has been run by its civil servants since January 2017. Here is the head of the NICS talking about what that feels like earlier this month.

A reminder, too, that as well as new Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith, we have a new Scottish secretary in Alister Jack. Alun Cairns continues as Welsh secretary.

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900

At junior ministerial level, John Penrose has left his junior ministerial role in the Northern Ireland Office. We’re awaiting any other changes.

And this year marks 20 years of devolution – do check out our dataviz-driven Devolution at 20, and our new essay collection.

26 July 2019 11:22

Day 4

Good morning, and welcome back to our government formation live blog.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a number of ministerial appointments yesterday evening. These were at minister of state level, the next rung down the ladder from secretary of state (more in our government ministers explainer).

We think this captures the current state of play:

Block chart - 26 July 2019 1030Here’s a summary:


Stephen Hammond has left his role as Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care:

He’s replaced by Chris Skidmore, previously Universities Minister between the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (and who was attending Cabinet, covering Claire Perry’s role as Minister for Energy and Clean Growth). Caroline Dinenage retains her Minister of State role.


Nick Gibb remains Schools Minister. Obviously.

At the end of the May administration, he was one of seven ministers still in the post they were appointed to by David Cameron. Two of the others – Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Lords Chief Ehip) and David Mundell (Scottish Secretary) – have gone. One of the others – Alun Cairns – remains Welsh Secretary. The others are Earl Howe (MoD and Deputy Leader of the Lords, Lord Keen of Elie (Advocate General for Scotland) and Viscount Younger of Leckie (Lords Whip).

Foreign affairs

Christopher Pincher has been appointed Minister of State at the Foreign Office. He was previously in the Whips’ Office.

Andrew Stephenson moves from his role as Parliamentary Under Secretary at BEIS to become Minister of State at the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. He replaces Harriet Baldwin. Andrew Murrison retains his job as the other joint minister of state between the two departments.

Conor Burns becomes Minister of State at the Department for International Trade. He was previously Boris Johnson’s Parliamentary Private Secretary when the new Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary. We think that’s in place of George Hollingbery.

Prisons and police

Lucy Frazer replaces Robert Buckland, the new Justice Secretary, as the Minister of State at MoJ responsible for prisons. She’s the seventh minister in that role since 2010 – and there have been seven justice secretaries in that time, too.

Kit Malthouse, former Housing Minister and the deputy mayor responsible for policing when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, is the new Policing Minister at the Home Office. No news yet on Nick Hurd, who previously held that role.

Everywhere else

Jesse Norman remains Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

John Penrose remains the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption champion (see more details on that role) but has left his position as Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

Two Defra appointments to tell you about. George Eustice – who resigned from the department back in February – returns. Thérèse Coffey MP has been promoted, from Parliamentary Under Secretary to Minster of State.

Chris Heaton-Harris, a former whip who resigned from DExEU back in April, is now a minister of state at the Department for Transport.

Nigel Adams becomes Minister of State for Digital and Sport at DCMS. He replaces Mims Davies (sort of – she covered sport and civil society as a Parliamentary Under Secretary).

Do let us know if you think we’ve missed anyone!

25 July 2019 20:14

End of Day 3

Alright, we're going to stop here for this evening. Ministerial appointments seem to be continuing, but nothing official is coming from Downing Street. We understand that George Eustice is back in Defra and Conor Burns, formerly Boris Johnson's Parliamentary Private Secretary, has joined the International Trade team. 

This is where things stand now: 

Block chart - 25 July 2019 1952.png

At least one minister has already turned down a job offer - Steve Baker, who was a junior DExEU minister and resigned alongside David Davis in July last year.

With regret, I have turned down a ministerial job.

I cannot repeat my experience of powerlessness as a junior @DExEUgov minister with the work done in @cabinetofficeuk.

I have total confidence in @BorisJohnson to take us out of the EU by 31 Oct.

Disaster awaits otherwise.

— Steve Baker MP (@SteveBakerHW) July 25, 2019

We'll be back tomorrow morning to see how the rest of the Government shapes up - see you then! 

25 July 2019 19:19

Housing ministers heading to Cabinet...

Housing is always an important issue in politics, but that hasn't stopped a high degree of turnover in the minister responsible. Since 2010, there have been 8 of these ministers. What's interesting to see is how many of those are now in, or attending, Cabinet - 4 of the last 8 (Shapps, Lewis, Sharma, Raab). 

The chart below shows the holders of this important role going back to 1951 until Kit Malthouse, who has now moved to the Home Office. The current housing minister, Esther McVey, also attends Cabinet. 

Housing ministers - to Malthouse.png

25 July 2019 19:09

Still many ministerial jobs to fill 

Here's the latest picture we have of the Government following the latest appointments, including Lucy Frazer at MoJ and Kit Malthouse taking on the policing brief at the Home Office. He was of course Johnson's Deputy Mayor for policing at City Hall

Block chart - 25 July 2019 1850.png

25 July 2019 18:56

New Minister of State at MoJ

We understand Lucy Frazer is now a Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, with responsibility for prisons. Our Performance Tracker publication has been looking at how prisons are performing - they are one of two public services that we are most concerned about, with violence raising: 

PT Prisons chart.pngDamian Green served as a junior minister at the Ministry of Justice (alongside the Home Office) during the Coalition and said that:

The MoJ works at the speed of the judiciary; it is very slow and laborious, and took an age to get everything done


25 July 2019 18:48

How to be an effective junior minister

Now that the lower ranks of the ministerial pyramid are filling up, it's worth taking a moment to consider what these individuals do. As Stephen Hammond (who has left the Government today) said, they do a lot of the legwork of a department - in Parliament, on visits, answering letters and so on. minister-reflect-stephen hammond.pngA few years ago we looked at how junior ministers can get things done

What will help today’s cohort of junior ministers thrive in their roles? The interviews in Ministers Reflect offer a number of insights:

  • As Andrew Mitchell put it, “the route to enjoyment as a junior minister is to find an area where you can drive forward the policy and where you’re not always having to report to the secretary of state.” This requires a secretary of state who is able to recognise individual strengths, delegate responsibility, and resist the urge to micro-manage.
  • Ministerial teams function best, as Mark Prisk observes, when secretaries of state see themselves as “team leaders”, maintain constant dialogue through regular meetings, and allow junior ministers to be the public face of specific initiatives.
  • “Less chopping and changing of ministers in the mid-term” was also seen as critical to enabling junior ministers to deliver on the ground (Nick Harvey) – a point the Institute has made in the past. Many regretted not having the opportunity to finish what they started.

25 July 2019 18:33

Departures continue

More junior ministers are leaving the Government - and appointments are starting. It's been reported that Nigel Adams has been made a junior minister at DCMSBlock chart - 25 July 2019 1830.png

DCMS is one of the smallest government departments, and as Hugh Robertson, a junior minister there during the Coalition, it is a close-knit place:

At the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, everybody knows everybody else. The directors and the ministers are quite close; the ministers are very, very close. 

25 July 2019 18:29

Here we go again...

Looks like things are getting going again - junior ministers are beginning to leave the Government. Will PM Johnson replace the majority of them, as he did with the Cabinet yesterday? We'll keep an eye on all the moves. 

Here's Gavin with the latest on departures:

So Hammond and Penrose have left junior ministerial roles so far.

Any we've missed?

(Now with a couple of corrections, and it may be missing some ministers who will stay in govt - e.g. we think McVey has replaced Malthouse as housing minister, but not sure where the latter is) pic.twitter.com/TLWNuj05MP

— Gavin Freeguard (@GavinFreeguard) July 25, 2019

And here is the graph of government ministers - pink signifiies those who have left Government

Block chart - 25 July 2019 1820.png

25 July 2019 15:18

Pressing pause

Given this...

Don’t expect MOS reshuffle until this eve

— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) July 25, 2019

...which means we'll be waiting a few hours for Ministers of State to be reshuffled, we're going to pause the live blog for a bit. We'll be back when appointments start again.

Until then, here's a brief summary of where things stand.

33 Cabinet ministers have been appointed...

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900

...making it one of the largest ever

Cabinet attending full Johnson May Cameron Brown Blair Major Thatcher 1989 2019

That goes against a lot of the briefing in recent weeks, which suggested it might be smaller than ever. Check out our 10:31 update for more analysis.

More women are full Cabinet ministers than under May, but the gender balance has tilted towards men

Gender Balance of Cabinet before and after

But there are more non-white politicians attending Cabinet than in the rest of British political history put together.

More ministers left Cabinet than in any recent comparable formation of government

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 25 July 2019 0900

The numbers show it was as dramatic as you thought it was. The other key story was the large number of ex-Cabinet ministers returning to the fold.

Cabinet experience ministers attending cabinet Only Michael Gove was at the top table nine years ago at the start of the Coalition Government led by David Cameron. At the other end of the spectrum, five Cabinet members (and seven attending ministers) have never been in Cabinet before.

These are some of the roles that need filling

Block chart - 25 July 2019 1000

And, before we sign off for a bit, we've just published a new comment piece by Joe Marshall, on that most magical of government traditions - take out the trash day. Here's a taster:

To some extent, it is inevitable that there will a last-minute rush of activity before Parliament breaks up. Politicians and civil servants will be keen to finish pieces of work before the holidays, and the timing of some reports is out of the Government’s hands. It would also be unfair to say that these announcement always bring bad news, as many are relatively routine or even positive for the Government. However, as the Institute for Government has previously highlighted, ‘taking out the trash day’ is bad for scrutiny and transparency.

See you later!

25 July 2019 14:48

How have the new Cabinet's views on Brexit changed over time? 

Prime Minister Johnson has made taking the UK out of the EU by 31 October his number one priority, with or without a deal - and signing up to this pledge was apparently a prerequisite for those wishing to serve in his Cabinet. But that doesn't mean they've always thought that way. In fact, as the chart below shows, views over both the referendum question and the 'meaningful votes' on Theresa May's deal varied quite considerably amongst the new Cabinet:

Cabinet Brexit Stances

25 July 2019 14:41

More thoughts on the changing responsibilities for Brexit

Jill Rutter has been tweeting about the reported changing ministerial roles on Brexit that Downing Street have announced - check out her tweet thread here: 

25 July 2019 14:24

The civil service must speak truth to Boris (and his Cabinet)

Jill Rutter has blogged about the importance of the civil service being frank to the new Government and avoiding the temptation of sugar-coating difficult messages as they seek to build successful working relationships with their new political masters. She notes that officials may not want to speak truth to power, given the previously-expressed attitudes of several of their new ministers:

Many of the new appointees have spent much of the May Government on the backbenches, where they have built up form in rubbishing evidence from officials. The Treasury may think it dodged a bullet with the appointment of Sajid Javid as Chancellor – and with the Office for Budget Responsibility tasked with producing the official forecast to accompany the Budget. But the new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has already decried the value of Treasury forecasts, and the new Leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, used his position on both the Treasury Select Committee and the Exiting the EU Committee to take on the Bank of England over its gloomy forecasts. 

25 July 2019 14:09

Changing responsibilities on Brexit

ITV's Joe Pike is reporting that Michael Gove, new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster at the Cabinet Office, will be taking over no deal preparations, while Stephen Barclay, Brexit Secretary, will remain the key ministerial negotiator in day-to-day talks with the EU, and Boris Johnson will be the overall chief negotiator. Until now, Barclay's Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) has been in charge of no deal preparations.

More details from No 10 on EU roles:

*Gove - No deal planning and coordination (taken off Barclay) incl ‘big’ no-deal marketing campaign

*Barclay - remains ministerial negotiator with EU

*PM - chief negotiator

Some EU officials likely to be move elsewhere to sort trade deals

— Joe Pike (@joepike) July 25, 2019

In our recent report looking at the next phase of negotiations with the EU, we argued that a lack of clarity over who was doing what was partly to blame for the failure of Theresa May's negotiations: 

Split responsibilities between No.10 and the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) caused tensions and ultimately proved unsustainable. The Prime Minister lost two Brexit secretaries during the negotiation – they were unhappy about being cut out of decisions and felt sidelined by the Prime Minister and her Europe adviser and chief official negotiators. This feeling of division at the top of the negotiating team was compounded by the secretive approach adopted by the Prime Minister and her advisers

Being clear on exactly who is doing what on Brexit will be important for Prime Minister Johnson if he is to achieve his objectives. 

25 July 2019 13:49

Experience of the new Cabinet

Prime Minister Johnson has used his reshuffle yesterday to bring lots of new ministers into the Cabinet (whether full members or 'attending'). Of the current Cabinet, only Michael Gove was at the top table nine years ago at the start of the Coalition Government led by David Cameron. At the other end of the spectrum, five Cabinet members (and seven attending ministers) have never been in Cabinet before. And yesterday's resignations and dismissals marked the departure of many long-serving Cabinet members (including, of course, Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt, who have been in Cabinet without a break since 2010):

Cabinet experience ministers attending cabinet

As we've already seen, the number of ministers attending Cabinet has increased under Johnson compared to May and Cameron (in his majority Government days):

Cabinet attending full Johnson May Cameron Brown Blair Major Thatcher 1989 2019

25 July 2019 13:24

What are the benefits of ministers working across departments? 

Over recent years we’ve seen an increase in the number of ministers working jointly across two (or sometimes more) departments. This can bring benefits as it means that a greater focus can be brought to policy areas that might otherwise fall between the gaps of departmental responsibilities, or where one department takes a different approach to another.

Justine Greening, reflecting on her time as Secretary of State for International Development and her work with other departments, told us that

people in other departments, particularly the Foreign Office, didn’t always spend the aid wisely. It’s as simple as that. They would sometimes be prepared to put money into quite nugatory, non-strategic projects that weren’t really going to change anything. And then they weren’t always managed and controlled.

Since her time at DFID, there have been a number of joint Foreign Office-DFID ministers appointed (including Alistair Burt, who resigned from Theresa May’s Government in March this year).

Nick Boles worked as a joint minister between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education as Minister of State for Skills between 2014 and 2016. He said that

I worked out that the beauty of being skills minister across two departments was that neither Secretary of State was my boss, completely

He also said that there was a risk of extra bureaucracy around joint appointments,

if you interpret them as having an office in two departments, it can become a huge waste of time. I used to refuse to go to the DfE except for the weekly meeting. This idea of having two offices and a private office, all moving when the buildings were 150 yards apart, I just thought all that was nonsense.

But he did think there was some value to the idea:

if there’s real substance in it [the joint appointment] that you can make more happen, then I think it’s worth doing

However, the role of joint minister can create some ‘"surreal moments’", as Damian Green, former Minister of State at both the Home Office and Ministry of Justice (and later Work and Pensions Secretary), explained:

There was one point where I was required to write to myself as one minister in a department to another, demanding that something happen, which I was tempted to do just to see how the system would cope with this!

We already have at least one joint minister in the new Government – Jo Johnson, the Prime Minister’s brother, has returned to his role at the Departments for Education and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which he held under Theresa May before being moved to the Department for Transport in 2018. Will the elder Johnson replicate the joint minister model across other departments?  

25 July 2019 12:26

The role of junior ministers

Yesterday saw big changes in the Cabinet, with the majority of posts changing hands. But what will today hold for the junior ministerial ranks?

There is a big case to be made for keeping many of the current jobholders in post – they know the issues and will be able to guide their new Secretaries of State as they get up to speed with their briefs. As Jill Rutter wrote earlier in the week,

the Prime Minister should be inclined towards some stability among ministers of state if a secretary of state has moved

And our Ministers Reflect interviews show how beneficial it is to keep junior ministers in post. Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State at Defra 2010-2012, said that

If you’ve got a very technical brief and you’ve got a rookie secretary of state, I think you want some experience on the ministerial team, in a perfect world

And while Secretaries of State rarely get to choose their ministerial team, successful working relationships are essential if the department is going to achieve its objectives. Kitty Ussher, a junior Labour minister at the Treasury, told us that:

As a junior minister you’ve only got partial sight, you’ve only got partial influence and actually sometimes, you just really need to understand what your role is in the team

And Stephen Hammond, who was a junior minister at the Department for Transport during the Coalition, said that:

Junior ministers tend to be the workhorses of the department

Junior ministers do a lot of the parliamentary heavylifting, answering questions and shepherding legislation; they also delve into the nitty-gritty of policy detail in a way that secretaries of state are unable to other than on a few key priorities.

There are a number of vacant junior minister roles, after the resignations earlier in the week, and it's entirely possible the new PM will want to make more changes lower down the ranks as well:


Minister Cabinet departments vacancies

So while today’s appointments will be lower profile than yesterday’s Cabinet ministers, they will tell us a lot about how the Government will actually go about its business; and the degree of turnover will give us an idea of how long it will take the new team to get up to speed.

25 July 2019 12:11

Spads spads spads spads spads

Something else to look out for over the coming days…

According to reports this morning (Times, paywall), 10 Downing Street is trying to impose discipline on special advisers (spads) by having all departmental spads report to Dominic Cummings, newly-installed as a senior adviser at No. 10. (Civil Service World has some other details here.)

Here’s Jill’s take:

This has long been an aspiration of Prime Ministers – particularly where they see secretaries of state using their own advisers to promote themselves rather than the government and government policy. In the past, the only power that No. 10 had was the power of veto – to stop spads being employed.  Once in post they clearly answered to their employer, not No. 10.  One reason relatively few ministers took up Francis Maude’s idea of Extended Ministerial Offices was the requirement to have someone there who would report into – Francis Maude. 

How this works out will tell us a lot not just about Cummings’ authority, but also the new PM’s. He presides over a Cabinet of unequals. No Cabinet minister has an independent power base to speak of and they all owe their positions to Johnson (and he showed yesterday the price for any chirp of dissent not followed by complete obeisance). So while it would have been inconceivable for Gordon Brown’s spads, Ed Balls and Charlie Whelan, to feel they reported into Jonathan Powell or Alastair Campbell in Tony Blair’s government, rather than to the Chancellor himself, it is just possible that a combination of Johnson’s authority in the Cabinet, Cummings’ force of personality  and the primacy given to unity in the Cabinet mean that No. 10 might be able to pull it off this time.

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of ministerial stability – it takes time for ministers to get to grips with new briefs, and for civil servants to adapt to new priorities and personalities. We’ve also written extensively about the damage excessive civil service turnover can do. The same goes for special advisers, who are temporary civil servants. As in the past, we might expect to see a fair amount of change as a new administration beds in:

Spad turnover Dec 18

25 July 2019 11:51

PM's speech to the Commons

Boris Johnson has just finished giving his first speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister. Jeremy Corbyn is now responding. It covered similar ground to his speech yesterday - here's what we wrote after that:

Beyond Brexit, there was quite the laundry list of other pledges. A few days ago, Joe Marshall wrote that ‘The next Prime Minister will need to limit their ambitions beyond Brexit’:

With a fragile and unstable majority, and deep parliamentary divisions over Brexit likely to dominate the coming months, the ability of the new occupant of Number 10 to pass legislation – or fend off his opponents – will be limited. He will need to make a choice. Either, like Theresa May, he accepts these constraints and limits his ambition beyond Brexit. Or, as Boris Johnson is said to be considering, risk a general election to try and improve his majority. Either way, a parliamentary reality check awaits.

Johnson mentioned various public services, from the police to GPs, hospitals to social care, and education. Our Performance Tracker project has (as the name suggests) been tracking the performance of those public services over the last few years, if you want to explore the context.

On Brexit, the new Prime Minister reiterated his pledge that the UK would leave by 31 October – without a deal if necessary. Tim Durrant noted a few weeks ago that the Tory leadership contest had been turning into a no deal arms race, while Joe Owen has written about how the UK is less prepared for no deal now than in March. Johnson also said he would replace the Northern Irish backstop – Alex Stojanovic asked if ‘alternative arrangements’ could viably replace it last week.

The new PM pledged "a new partnership" with Europe, as "warm, close and affectionate" as possible. Back in April, our Brexit team looked ahead to the UK’s talks on a future relationship with the EU.

And the new PM also mentioned the importance of another union – the UK itself. Our recent Devolution at 20 report and essay collection look at how successful devolution has been to date.

And on the subject of Brexit, here's a reminder of the number of Brexit-related workstreams by department. Four of the top five departments have new secretaries of state - BEIS (Leadsom), Defra (Villiers), DCMS (Morgan) and DfT (Shapps).

Brexit workstreams

25 July 2019 11:32

How diverse is the new Cabinet?

A lot of the briefing before the new Cabinet was appointed focused on its diversity. Here’s the gender balance, before and after:

Gender Balance of Cabinet before and afterThere are actually more women in Cabinet now – eight versus six – but the percentage of women as all Cabinet attendees has fallen. However, a higher percentage are full Cabinet members, leading government departments, than before. Priti Patel became the fourth female Home Secretary yesterday, after Jacqui Smith, Theresa May and Amber Rudd – that’s more women than have held the other great offices of state put together (PM – Thatcher and May, foreign secretary – Beckett, chancellor – still never held by a woman).

Women attending Cabinet since 1997

The percentage of women attending Cabinet was at its highest under Gordon Brown (many of those were ‘attending’ or ‘attending when their responsibilities were on the agenda’).

There’s also been a lot of coverage about ethnic diversity. There are a record number of non-white ministers attending Cabinet: two of the great offices of state, in Priti Patel and Sajid Javid; Alok Sharma at the Department for International Development; minister without portfolio, James Cleverly; and attendees Rishi Sunak and Kwasi Kwarteng.

We think that the only other non-white politicians to attend Cabinet have been Paul Boateng, Valerie Amos, Patricia Scotland, Sadiq Khan and Sayeeda Warsi.

The Sutton Trust have looked at the educational background of the new Cabinet. And here’s a constituency map of the new Cabinet, courtesy of Elliott.


25 July 2019 10:55

Junior appointments

There’s always a lot of excitement around Cabinet appointments – and here’s some analysis from Jill on Channel 4 News yesterday:

But today, we expect Boris Johnson to start making junior ministerial appointments. They may not seem as exciting, but – as I wrote for Prospect last year – they matter:

While Secretaries of State might crowd round the cabinet table, set their department’s direction and be its public face, junior ministers do much of the heavy lifting. In parliament, they are the ones to answer adjournment debates and parliamentary questions and pilot bills through to Royal Assent. In their departments, they are the ones who deal with correspondence, drive policies through and chase their progress and keep stakeholders on board. It may be “unglamorous” and “an awful lot of the routine stuff, the nuts and bolts,” as former minister Bob Neill put it, but they are the ones that get things done.

Various Cabinet appointments and resignations at the end of Theresa May’s premiership mean there are some gaps to fill, as well as any other changes the new PM wishes to make:

Block chart - 25 July 2019 1000And there is another vacancy created by yesterday’s moves – chair of parliament’s Treasury select committee, a post previously held by new culture secretary Nicky Morgan.

25 July 2019 10:31

Cabinet clear-out – recap

So what happened yeterday? (And very late last night, and early this morning.)

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900

These are all the Cabinet moves that have been announced so far. 19 ministers – including former prime minister Theresa May – left government yesterday.

Those replacing them include nine ministers returning to Cabinet. That number includes five ministers – Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey – who were amongst the record 36 non-reshuffle resignations during May’s premiership. Boris Johnson’s brother Jo, who attends Cabinet for the first time, was also one of those 36. And we shouldn’t forget Gavin Williamson, the only Cabinet minister since 1979 to be sacked outside a reshuffle.

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 25 July 2019 0900

Comparing yesterday’s events with other recent changes of prime minister between the same party – Thatcher to Major in 1990, Blair to Brown in 2007, Cameron to May in 2016 – shows just how unprecedented the clear-out was. The number of ex-Cabinet ministers coming back into the fold is also at a record high.

Full and attending since 1997 - 25 July 0900

And for all the briefing that the Cabinet might shrink in size, it’s actually the largest it’s ever been, owing to ten ministers being granted ‘attending Cabinet’ status. (The main difference between them and full members is the pay.)

MoG changes 1975-2017

Part of the reason for that is the lack of machinery of government (MoG) changes – that is, Whitehall departments being merged, abolished or created (there had been various rumours including a new infrastructure department, and DfID and DExEU being folded into other departments). Tim wrote about why MoG changes aren’t usually to be recommended here.

It means the appointment of the leader of the Commons was the only Mogg change yesterday.

25 July 2019 09:37

Day 3

Good morning, and welcome back to our live blog, charting all the ministerial moves and providing comment and analysis as prime minister Boris Johnson forms his government.

We've had another appointment this morning - Jake Berry, formerly Northern Powerhouse minister between the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will now attend Cabinet as a Cabinet Office/MHCLG minister.

Cabinet moves - 25 July 2019 0900A meeting of the new Cabinet started at 0830, and we're expecting the new PM to address parliament at around 1130.

He won't be the only person making their Commons debut in a new position - new leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, will be taking business questions at 10.30, while new environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, will be facing departmental questions any moment now. 

Here are some reflections from one of her predecessors, Caroline Spelman.

On entering Defra:

I was quite lucky because my minister of state had been in MAFF [Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food] 20 years previously. Some things never change and his sort of long knowledge of the subject area was a great advantage. And the other junior minister was a technical expert on agriculture and fish. If you’ve got a very technical brief and you’ve got a rookie secretary of state, I think you want some experience on the ministerial team, in a perfect world.

On getting up to speed:

It did take me a while to work out the jargon at Defra, and the names of the organisations. I think it takes one calendar year to understand the cycle of the department

And on the stability of ministerial tenure:

And you also want to leave people in post long enough to get on top of the brief and master it and do it well…I think not changing the cast too frequently is actually quite a good call.

24 July 2019 22:41

That's it – for day 2

We're about to be thrown out of the office, and there are only a few appointments left, so this seems like a good place to leave things until tomorrow, when we'll have plenty more analysis of today's events - and more ministerial moves yet to come.

Before we do...

Here's the Institute's Jill Rutter speaking to BBC News about the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

This is where we currently are in terms of Cabinet moves:

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2210There are a few outstanding questions - most notably, who will be minister for the Cabinet Office (if not Gove in his capacity as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) and leader of the House of Commons? As I type this, it's also been announced that James Cleverly will become minister without portfolio - a role currently held by Brandon Lewis, in his capacity as Conservative party chair.

SoS per dept since 2010 - 24 July 2019Both the Ministry of Justice (Robert Buckland) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Nicky Morgan) welcome their seventh secretary of state since 2010, a damaging amount of turnover.

The Home Office welcomes its fourth female home secretary in Priti Patel - but we still haven't had a female chancellor, as Sajid Javid was appointed. But those appointments mean two of the four great offices of state are held by non-white politicians for the first time.

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 24 July 2019 2210

But perhaps the main story of the day is the comprehensiveness of the Cabinet clear-out. 18 ministers have left Cabinet altogether, more than in similar transitions of power between two prime ministers of the same party - Blair to Brown, Cameron to May, and Thatcher to Major (where only four left). Only six Cabinet ministers remain in the same post, while eight of those appointed today are returning Cabinet members (including a number who resigned under May and one - Gavin Williamson - who was sacked by her).

See you tomorrow!

24 July 2019 22:20

New Chief Secretary: Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak – hotly-tipped for promotion after helping the new Prime Minister prepare for government – succeeds Liz Truss as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. A reminder that the Institute's Martin Wheatley wrote earlier about the Chancellor's Spending Review headache, which is also likely to be on the new Chief Secretary's mind.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2210Here's more on Sunak, an MP since 2015 and a minister (at MHCLG) since January 2018:

Rishi SunakThere are now only a few outstanding questions and unfilled roles:

  • Who will replace Mel Stride as Leader of the House of Commons?
  • Who will replace David Lidington as Minister for the Cabinet Office (if it's not something Michael Gove will do as part of his role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster)?
  • What will happen to Minister without Portfolio, Brandon Lewis, and Chris Skidmore (who had been attending Cabinet in Clair Perry's absence?
  • Will any other junior ministers be attending Cabinet? (including Caroline Nokes' replacement, yet to be announced, as Immigration Minister)
  • And – although it hasn't been a Cabinet position for a few years – who will replace Lord Taylor as Chief Whip in the Lords?

24 July 2019 21:57

Cox remains Attorney General

The Attorney has to have a broad back – there is no doubt that is one of the necessary attributes of the office.

A former holder of the office there – one Dominic Grieve, who talks about the role in his Ministers Reflect interview. Geoffrey Cox is the sixth Cabinet minister to remain in post.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2155

24 July 2019 21:51

New Scotland Secretary: Alister Jack; New Northern Ireland Secretary: Julian Smith

Alister Jack becomes the first member of the 2017 intake to enter Cabinet, replacing David Mundell as Scotland Secretary. Julian Smith – previously Chief Whip – is the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He's so far only the fourth existing Cabinet attendee to switch post.

Baroness Evans, Leader of the House of Lords, has also been confirmed in post.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2145

That completes the line up in the territorial offices, which are rather different from many of the other offices of state. Here's new Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers, on her time in the Northern Ireland Office:

At Northern Ireland, it was slightly different in that there were so many sensitive political things that I and my team were forever going back and forth to Number 10 to make sure they were happy with it

Michael Moore on Scotland:

Stakeholder engagement was a huge part of the job – being the Government’s representative in Scotland, without appearing like you were an ambassador or the governor general, as some of my opponents occasionally would call me.

And Stephen Crabb on Wales:

In the Wales Office, relationships and knowing how to manage those relationships effectively is everything.


24 July 2019 21:29

Cairns stays at Wales

Alun Cairns remains Welsh Secretary, the fourth Cabinet minister to remain in the same post. At close of play yesterday, he was one of only seven ministers across the whole of government to have been appointed to their post by David Cameron. One of the others was his counterpart at the Scotland Office, David Mundell, who has now left government.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2125

More about Cairns:

Alun Cairns

24 July 2019 21:23

New Transport Secretary: Grant Shapps

Former Conservative party chair and noted spreadsheet fan Grant Shapps replaces Chris Grayling at the Department for Transport. Shapps is the eighth minister to return to Cabinet today.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2115Here's our briefing on the Department for Transport:

DfT SnapshotThis seems a good time to revisit our chart looking at what happened at previous transitions of power between prime ministers of the same party - now with added Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 24 July 2019 2115

So far, only six cabinet members confirmed to be staying (five more are yet to be determined/announced), with eight former Cabinet ministers are returning. 19 ministers have left Cabinet. The contrast with the Thatcher/Major transition is especially stark: 14 ministers stayed in the same post, with only four leaving altogether.

24 July 2019 21:12

New Justice Secretary: Buckland; New International Development Secretary: Sharma

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2110

Robert Buckland - a former junior justice minister, and former solicitor-general - becomes the seventh justice secretary since 2010.

Number of Secretaries of State by department since 2010

Yes, seventh. An unwelcome distinction of high ministerial turnover the department shares with DCMS. In fact, as per our 13:18 update today, all of the ministers at the Ministry of Justice at close of play yesterday had come into their roles in January 2018 or since. This turnover will not have helped the department face some of its bigger challenges, such as the crisis in prisons, covered by our Performance Tracker project.

The Department for International Development, which welcomes Alok Sharma as its new secretary of state, isn't far behind in the churn charts - he's the sixth holder of that role since 2010.

Here are the respective departmental profiles - one of the bigger departments in MoJ, and one of the smaller ones in DfID:

MoJ Snapshot.

DfID Snapshot

24 July 2019 20:51

New Business Secretary: Leadsom; New Housing Secretary: Jenrick

Andrea Leadsom - the seventh returning Cabinet minister today, who resigned from May's government back in May - replaces Greg Clark at Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

Robert Jenrick moves from the Treasury, where he was Exchequer secretary, to replace James Brokenshire at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Amber Rudd, meanwhile, becomes only the third Cabinet minister to retain her role - as secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions. She also becomes minister for women and equality, a post she held before resigning from her role as home secretary back in April 2018.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2045

In BEIS, leave-voting Leadsom inherits the department with more Brexit workstreams than any other:

Brexit workstreams


And make sure you're following Lee on Twitter for the latest departmental snapshots and ministerial profiles.

24 July 2019 20:39

New Education Secretary: Gavin Williamson; New Culture Secretary: Nicky Morgan

Gavin Williamson - the only Cabinet minister (and only the second minister) to be sacked outside a reshuffle since 1979 - is the new education secretary, taking over from Damian Hinds. Williamson has held two other Cabinet positions - as chief whip, and as defence secretary.

Nicky Morgan - former education secretary - returns to Cabinet as the new secretary of state for digital, culture, media, and sport. The return of Williamson and Morgan means six former Cabinet ministers have returned to government so far today. Morgan's appointment also leaves a vacancy as the chair of the Treasury select committee in parliament.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2030

Education was one of the public services highlighted in prime minister Boris Johnson's speech in Downing Street earlier. As Nick Davies writes, though, Johnson's public service promises won't be easy to achieve. As for the education pledge:

Johnson has promised minimum funding for secondary schools of £5,000 per pupil. However, this is barely above the £4,800 per pupil level set in the new national funding formula. As such, it is likely to be relatively cheap but won’t get close to reversing the 5% cut in per pupil spending experienced by secondary schools between 2011/12 and 2017/18. 

Morgan inherits a department that has changed considerably over the last few years, the addition of 'Digital' to its nameplate reflecting an expansion of its responsibilities (and a resultant increase in its staff numbers).

DCMS Snapshot

One of the most important things in her in-tray is the National Data Strategy, which aims to 'unlock the power of data across government and the wider economy, while building citizen trust in its use' and 'drive the collective vision that will support the UK to build a world-leading data economy'. The Institute was one of a number of civil society organisations to sign an open letter urging DCMS to seize the opportunity 'to set out a long-term ambition for how it will transform the UK's use of data' and make data work for everyone in the UK.

24 July 2019 20:22

New Environment Secretary: Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers - a Cabinet minister under David Cameron - returns to government as the secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, one of the departments most affected by Brexit. Villiers is the fourth person to return to Cabinet today (along with Johnson, Patel and Raab).

Cabinet moves - 24 July 2019 2015

Indeed, this was why Jill singled out Defra in her advice to the new prime minister to opt for stability over wholesale Cabinet change:

A strong case can be made for keeping [Michael Gove] at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The department is in the crosshairs of no deal, and it would be madness to appoint a new secretary of state just three months before a possible no deal exit.

Here's some more information about the department:

Defra Snapshot

24 July 2019 20:06

Hancock stays at Health

Matt Hancock remains secretary of state at the Department of Health and Social Care, a position he entered just over a year ago. He's only the second member of the Cabinet to be confirmed in their existing position.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1955

Health secretary is often regarded as the 'toughest job in government', as per the title of a reunion of former health secretaries we hosted back in 2015.

Or, in Ken Clarke's words:


Health is a political graveyard in every Western democracy.

I'm sure Hancock is familiar with his department already, but here's a briefing:

DHSC Snapshot

DHSC has experienced a greater reduction in civil service staff numbers since 2010 than any other department:

Staff numbers 2010 to Q1 2019

24 July 2019 19:48

Some advice for the new chancellor

Our colleagues, Gemma Tetlow and Martin Wheatley, have some advice for new chancellor, Sajid Javid.

Gemma says he must set new fiscal targets to guide tax and spending choices:

Fiscal policy is now largely unmoored. This follows a decade in which tax and spending choices have been tightly constrained by successive governments’ clear objective to reduce public borrowing, and it gives the new Chancellor the important task of deciding what new fiscal rules to adopt. This will provide a clear statement of the new Government’s priorities and guide its choices over tax and spending policies.

While Martin notes that he has an immediate spending review headache:

The Government’s financial plans, agreed in the 2015 spending review, run only to the end of next March. This is not an accounting technicality. Councils, schools and most government departments don’t know how much money they will have to spend beyond that date. This has consequences, such as a reliance on agency staff because managers can’t commit to hiring people on permanent contracts. Budgetary uncertainty means decisions are now being taken which don’t result in value for money for the taxpayer.  

We also have an entire report suggesting how the Treasury could run the next Spending Review here.

24 July 2019 19:40

New International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss

Liz Truss replaces Liam Fox as secretary of state for international trade. She moves from the Treasury, where she was chief secretary, although she's previously led two other departments - the Ministry of Justice, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1935

Truss spoke about her vision for Defra here at the Institute back in February 2016. And if she wants to learn more about the Department for International Trade, she might take something from her predecessor, Liam Fox, who spoke about the department here at the Institute a few months ago

Or she could check out our departmental snapshot:

DIT Snapshot

24 July 2019 19:32

New Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove; New Defence Secretary: Ben Wallace

Michael Gove remains in Cabinet, moving from secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs to become the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1930

What does that mean, you ask? Cath explains it thus:

Gove’s job Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster is the other title that can be significant ‘fixer’ for PM. Again, we will see what Johnson intends for the role.

-May had Damian Green as First Secretary and basically her deputy

-Then she had Lidington as CDL and basically her deputy

It's sometimes been used interchangeably with the minister for the Cabinet Office role (as with Lidington), but sometimes as a different position within Cabinet Office.

Ben Wallace is the new defence secretary. He was previously Minister of State for Security at the Home Office.

Ben WallaceAnd here's more about the department he's taking over - one of the big Whitehall beasts in budget and staff terms.

MoD Snapshot

Wallace has served in the military - something another former defence minister, Mark Francois, told us might be an advantage:


Having served in the Armed Forces certainly was helpful. If you go into the Ministry of Defence cold, with no military knowledge at all or no prior experience, it is a pretty steep hill to climb.

Liam Fox, for example, told us this:

I remember one day asking the former Permanent Secretary...to show me a structure of the organisation of the department. And it looked like a plate of spaghetti.

24 July 2019 19:10

New Foreign Secretary: Dominic Raab

Another of those 36 May resignations has returned to government. Dominic Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary back in November 2018, returns to government as foreign secretary. He also becomes first secretary of state, the first since Damian Green back in December 2017. That makes him Boris Johnson's de facto deputy.

Meanwhile, we have our first current Cabinet member confirmed in post, as Steve Barclay banks his position as Brexit secretary.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1900Barclay's confirmation suggests that the Department for Exiting the European Union - which some reports said it was under threat - is here to stay.

DExEU Snapshot

It's the smallest of the main Whitehall departments in terms of staff and budget. The Foreign Office is bigger:

FCO Snapshot

24 July 2019 18:58

New Home Secretary: Priti Patel

Priti Patel - one of those 36 resignations under May, back in November 2017 - is back in government as home secretary, replacing Treasury-bound Sajid Javid.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1850

The Home Office now has the best record on gender balance of all four great offices of state (prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary, home secretary), albeit becoming only the fourth woman to hold the position (after Jacqui Smith, second logest-serving since 1900 Theresa May, and Amber Rudd). We're still waiting for a first female chancellor.

Home Sec tenure by gender

It's one of the bigger Whitehall departments in terms of staff numbers.

HO Snapshot

Joe tweeted about some of the challenges awaiting the new Home Secretary yesterday, and we published a report back in March about managing migration after Brexit.

24 July 2019 18:47

New Chancellor: Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is the first appointment to be officially announced by Downing Street. He moves from one great office of state - the Home Office - to another, as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. (Only Jim Callaghan has held all four - those two plus foreign secretary and prime minister).

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1840

It might have one of the smallest workforces and smallest budgets, but it is one of the most powerful departments in government.

HMT Snapshot

As Alastair Darling told us in his Ministers Reflect interview:


The Treasury is very, very good. They get some of the best civil servants. I think the Treasury sometimes can be guilty of looking down on the other departments in Whitehall.

The flipside of that, as Chris Huhne told us, is that:


The Treasury needs to be challenged far more often. It’s a department that has massive problems; its staff turnover is enormous. You know, any professional organisation that has a staff turnover like the Treasury’s should really be worried

More reflections on the Treasury are summarised by Jill, here.

24 July 2019 18:33


Two more things to watch out for

In the speculation before today's government formation (none of which, that I can remember, predicted as much turnover as this), there were a couple of key themes.

One was whether, through abolishing and merging government departments (not something to be taken on lightly, as Tim wrote about here), the Cabinet would shrink, with fewer ministers around the Cabinetg table. Here's a view of the size of the Cabinet back to 1997:

Size of Cabinet since 1997The other was how diverse the new Cabinet would be. Here's a chart showing the percentage of women in Cabinet back to 1997:

Women attending Cabinet since 1997

24 July 2019 18:16

Stride out

Mel Stride had been leader of the Commons for 63 days after Andrea Leadsom's resignation. That's 19 gone.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1810That's quite a few positions to fill...

Government ministers - 24 July 2019 1815

24 July 2019 18:11

18 down

Claire Perry is relinquishing her ministerial role, and attending Cabinet status, to become president of COP26 - the UN climate change conference.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1805

24 July 2019 18:04

Hunt gone - and Mundell moves, Wright away

Three more – Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, and Boris Johnson's rival for the Tory leadership, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1800

Mundell's departure means only Baroness Evans (Leader of the House of Lords) and Alun Cairns (Welsh Secretary) remain in post from Theresa May's Cabinet appointments, back in July 2016.

Theresa May's cabinet 2016-2019

24 July 2019 17:54

Cabinet clear out – context

How do these rather extensive changes to the frontbench compare to previous changes of government?

New PM takeover - cabinet churn as at 24 July 2019 1745

Fourteen Cabinet ministers have already resigned (we now have confirmation of Caroline Nokes) or been let go by PM Johnson. This is greater than the total number lost during the transition from Cameron to May, and represents a wholesale change in the Cabinet. Only two of those who have departed were Johnson supporters in the leadership election (James Brokenshire and Chris Grayling) – Hunt supporters seem to have gotten short shrift.

There will also be inevitable comparisons with the 'Night of the Long Knives' in 1962, when Harold Macmillan dismissed seven members of his Cabinet. That wasn't, of course, part of a new government being formed so isn't directly comparable – but PM Johnson has also overtaken that.

24 July 2019 17:32

Cabinet clear-out

Welcome back after some technical issues. A number of Cabinet ministers have departed.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1730

BAILING GRAYLING Chris Grayling has gone. Back in March, Tom Sasse wrote: 'It is often said that all political careers end in failure. In Chris Grayling’s case, a ministerial career of failures never seems to end.' It apparently now has.

FOX TROTS International trade secretary, Liam Fox – who had led the department since its creation in 2016 - has gone.

Also leaving government are:

There are also rumours about Caroline Nokes, but she doesn’t seem to have been told yet…

Theresa May's cabinet 2016-2019

The departure of Grayling, Fox and Clark in addition to Hammond means that four of the seven Cabinet ministers that remained in post throughout Theresa May's premiership are now gone. The remaining three, so far, are Welsh secretary Alun Cairns, Scottish secretary David Mundell and leader of the Lords, Baroness Evans.

24 July 2019 17:13

Penny drops

Penny Mordaunt leaves government after just 85 days as Defence Secretary – she succeeded the sacked Gavin Williamson. She was also the Minister for Women and Equalities, a post she'd held since April 2018.

Penny Mordaunt

24 July 2019 16:35

Building a Cabinet

The new Prime Minister will now turn his attention to the formation of the new Cabinet. Here’s a snippet from Becoming Prime Minister on that process:

Choosing a Cabinet is the Prime Minister’s greatest power and that power is usually strongest when they have just taken on the role. However he or she comes into the role, a new premier is immediately launched into a period of ‘high octane HR’. The process of forming a government can take several days, depending on the circumstances. Compared to most other countries, this is extremely rapid. Reshuffles by a prime minister from the same party can often be just as comprehensive as those by an incoming government.

Prime ministers will generally appoint up to six Cabinet positions on the first day, the rest of Cabinet the following day and more junior positions in the next day or two. As civil servants told Tony Blair in 1997, it is ‘a pretty gruelling process’. Thatcher made her first appointments on the Friday following the 1979 General Election, she met with the new ministers one by one on the Saturday and they were announced to the press on Saturday afternoon. Now the precedent has become established for ministerial appointments to be announced as they happen, one by one or in small batches.

A new prime minister should not rush this process. The more that a future prime minister can think in advance about what they want to achieve in government and which individuals are most likely to deliver it, the better. If they have not had the time to consider these issues in advance, they would be well advised to take more time to make appointments, to avoid mistakes that may have a lasting effect.

We already know that five of those attending under May won’t be part of the new Cabinet.

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1600 - projected 24 July 1430.pngThe five are Chancellor Philip Hammond, Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, and – of course – May herself.

Mark Spencer will also succeed Julian Smith as Chief Whip – we don't yet know what will happen to Smith.

Number of Secretaries of State by department since 2010

The departure of Lidington, Gauke and Stewart means that three of the Cabinet posts with the highest turnover since 2010 will once again be filled by a new person.

Here are some of the other gaps that might need filling:

Block chart - 24 July 2019 1419.pngAnd here’s a great bonus fact about our new PM:

First from the backbenches since Bonar Law. Who was also born outside the UK!

— Nicholas Allen (@DrNJAllen) July 24, 2019


24 July 2019 16:24

And some more instant reaction from our excellent colleagues.

Here's Georgina Wright on what the EU27 might have made of Boris Johnson's first speech as Prime Minister:

EU leaders were not expecting to find out the new PM's Brexit strategy in his first speech - but has @BorisJohnson given any clues? Spoiler: not really.

— Georgina Wright (@GeorginaEWright) July 24, 2019


And here's Nick on social care:

Fixing the crisis in social care would be challenging for a PM with a 1997-sized majority. Much harder to do so with no majority and Brexit to deliver but if Johnson is serious then @instituteforgov set out the best way to approach it here:https://t.co/EeeG54NpVm

— Nick Davies (@NJ_Davies) July 24, 2019

24 July 2019 16:17

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has just given a speech in Downing Street (the Guardian live blog was keeping track).

Beyond Brexit, there was quite the laundry list of other pledges. A few days ago, Joe Marshall wrote that ‘The next Prime Minister will need to limit their ambitions beyond Brexit’:

With a fragile and unstable majority, and deep parliamentary divisions over Brexit likely to dominate the coming months, the ability of the new occupant of Number 10 to pass legislation – or fend off his opponents – will be limited. He will need to make a choice. Either, like Theresa May, he accepts these constraints and limits his ambition beyond Brexit. Or, as Boris Johnson is said to be considering, risk a general election to try and improve his majority. Either way, a parliamentary reality check awaits.

Johnson mentioned various public services, from the police to GPs, hospitals to social care, and education. Our Performance Tracker project has (as the name suggests) been tracking the performance of those public services over the last few years, if you want to explore the context.

On Brexit, the new Prime Minister reiterated his pledge that the UK would leave by 31 October – without a deal if necessary. Tim Durrant noted a few weeks ago that the Tory leadership contest had been turning into a no deal arms race, while Joe Owen has written about how the UK is less prepared for no deal now than in March. Johnson also said he would replace the Northern Irish backstop – Alex Stojanovic asked if ‘alternative arrangements’ could viably replace it last week.

The new PM pledged "a new partnership" with Europe, as "warm, close and affectionate" as possible. Back in April, our Brexit team looked ahead to the UK’s talks on a future relationship with the EU.

And the new PM also mentioned the importance of another union – the UK itself. Our recent Devolution at 20 report and essay collection look at how successful devolution has been to date.

24 July 2019 15:45

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has just become our 55th Prime Minister, succeeding the names of the 52 men and two women below.

PM timeline - 24 July 2019.pngWhat happens next, and what will he need to do? Our report on Becoming Prime Minister outlines his immediate tasks:

It is when the new Prime Minister goes through the No.10 door that the real business begins. He or she will be clapped in the door by staff, be greeted by the Cabinet Secretary and soon after head into a meeting to receive pre-prepared civil service briefings. These briefings cover everything from living arrangements for the Prime Minister and their family, to the ministerial appointments process, key policy briefings, urgent decisions, protocols, security and intelligence information, and nuclear weapons release policy. Alongside these, the new Prime Minister is immediately launched into many rounds of phone calls with international leaders wishing them well in the new job.

The order in which these early tasks are completed will partly depend on external priorities, partly on how the new Prime Minister wants to tackle them and partly on how each day pans out. Getting through it all can be an exhausting process and one that usually comes off the back of a campaign, whether for the leadership or a general election. A new prime minister could take time, but the pressure of media and public anticipation usually means they want to be seen to get up and running. This provides an early lesson in how extensive demands on their time will now be

Our director, Bronwen Maddox, outlined four key challenges in an article for The Observer this weekend:

Even if three months might seem a long time in politics, a prime minister cannot hope to chart a course to 31 October without taking many steps by the end of the coming week.

24 July 2019 15:05

How many Cabinet ministers will stay in post? 

One thing to watch out for as the incoming Prime Minister announces his Cabinet is how many of the appointees are current, or former, Cabinet members. There's a benefit to stability as it means knowledge is retained, but incoming PMs often want to set the tone of their administration by moving people around and – as is likely in this case – moving them out of government altogether.

In previous handovers within the same party (Blair–Brown in 2007 and Cameron–May in 2016) we saw a significant number of ministers leave altogether, and a number move to different Cabinet-level posts. It will be interesting to see how Johnson's transition compares

New PM takeover - cabinet churn (May, Brown).png

24 July 2019 14:55

What makes a good prime minister? 

As we wait for Theresa May and then Boris Johnson to have their audiences with the Queen, it's worth revisiting this IfG event from a few weeks ago on what makes a good prime minister.

The panel, who had worked with various prime ministers, all stressed the importance of prioritisation, the ability to make decisions and the inevitability of issues always finding their way to No10 – even if the Prime Minister intends to delegate much of the day-to-day of government to their Cabinet. 

24 July 2019 14:46

Theresa May pays tribute to civil service

In her final speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May paid tribute to the civil service. The Institute's Jill Rutter wrote about the importance of civil service neutrality – for all parties – recently:

A new prime minister will need the best advice he can get. They don’t have to accept it – but they must accept the need to listen. If civil servants see their colleagues being impugned by the new leadership, and their advice being rubbished in the press, then anyone with a degree of ambition will run a mile before joining the new Prime Minister's Brexit team. 

Brexit and its fallout are putting British political institutions under levels of pressure which they have never seen before, and the crucial relationship between civil servants and elected politicians could suffer long-term damage as a result.  

24 July 2019 14:38

What does the Cabinet look like now? 

With Lidington, Hammond, Gauke and Stewart gone today, there are some significant gaps in the Cabinet that Johnson will need to fill:

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1600 - projected 24 July 1430.png

24 July 2019 14:32

Theresa May leaves Downing Street

Theresa May is now heading to Buckingham Palace to formally resign as Prime Minister. 

In Becoming Prime Ministerwe looked at this process:

The resignation of an outgoing prime minister and appointment of a new one has a set routine. The Queen’s Private Secretary ushers in the new Prime Minister and after the audience with the Queen, the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary is there to accompany them back to No.10. Prime ministers usually make a speech in Downing Street when they return from the Palace.

24 July 2019 14:22

One more resignation

David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and de facto Deputy Prime Minister, has also resigned.

The number of vacant posts continues to grow:

Block chart - 24 July 2019 1419.png

24 July 2019 14:19

What will Theresa May's legacy be?

With Theresa May taking to the Downing Street podium for the last time, let's look back at what the Institute has said about her legacy as Prime Minister. 

When May announced her resignation, Bronwen Maddox said that:

Theresa May's legacy is little more than a failure to deliver Brexit and a painful illustration of the huge challenge that awaits her successor

And more recently, Tim Durrant assessed May's attempts to build a non-Brexit legacy by focusing on her other priorities, and argued that:

 she will only be remembered for what she did before announcing the date of her departure

24 July 2019 13:45

The new Prime Minister faces the same challenges as Theresa May

Once the drama of today and tomorrow is over, Boris Johnson will face the same challenges as Theresa May: minority government, a fractious House of Commons and a party that can't agree how to proceed. 

The Institute for Government's Director, Bronwen Maddox, discussed the issues he'll face with BBC Breakfast this morning

24 July 2019 13:39

More ministerial resignations

We understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart, and Justice Secretary, David Gauke, have now all resigned from the Government. They had suggested ahead of yesterday's result they would do this as they do not want to serve in a Government pursuing a no deal Brexit. 

The Government therefore currently looks like this – there are a growing number of gaps for Boris Johnson to fill when he formally becomes Prime Minister later today: 

Block chart - 24 July 2019 pre-appointments.png

24 July 2019 13:18

May's Cabinet saw lots of turnover

With all those resignations, May saw a lot of changes to her Cabinet over her time as Prime Minister. These are all of the Cabinet moves since July 2016: 

Cabinet turnover - July 2016 to 3 July 2019.png

And this chart shows when all the ministers that were in place across government at the end of yesterday entered their current role. 80% of all ministers across government have come into their position since the 2017 General Election; more than 60% are new since January 2018.

When ministers were appointed to their current posts - 23 July 2019.png

Ministerial stability, at all levels of government, matters – it takes time for new ministers to get to grips with new briefs, and for civil servants to adapt to new priorities and personalities.

As a reminder, this is what the Cabinet looks like as May prepares to head to the Palace to tender her resignation – things are likely to be in a very different shape this evening: 

Cabinet moves - 24 July 1600 - projected 23 July 1500.png

24 July 2019 12:28

Ministers under May

Now that Theresa May is approaching the end of her final PMQs, let's check out how her ministerial team changed during her three years in power.

There’s only one place to start when looking back on what happened with ministerial moves: 

Non-reshuffle resignations - LINE - 18 July.pngLast week, Margot James became the 36th resignation outside a reshuffle during Theresa May’s premiership of just over three years. That is, by some distance, a record. Margaret Thatcher experienced 24 in more than 11 years, and Tony Blair 29 in just over 10 years.

Non-reshuffle resignations - Dot Plot - 18 July 1345.png

It’s not just the number of resignations that’s unprecedented, but the reasons for them. 24 out of the 36 have been policy or political disagreements, and 22 of those have been about Brexit. (The other two were Greg Hands over Heathrow, and Tracey Crouch over FOBTs – Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.)

Before the start of 2018, there had been only one occasion since 1979 when three ministers resigned on the same day (1982, over the Falklands). Since the start of 2018, it’s happened three times – in July 2018, March 2019 and in November 2018, when four left on the same day. We think the record remains 11 ministers resigning over free trade in 1932.

Non-reshuffle departures inc sackings - Dot Plot - 24 July 2019.png

That 36 also misses out a few departures, including Gavin Williamson’s sacking as Defence Decretary in May this year. We’ve also not included those ministers – including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart – who have said they will resign later today, or Alan Duncan and Anne Milton, who quit earlier this week (they’re of a different nature to the other resignations outside reshuffles and are more a part of the government formation process). You can see our full list, back to 1979, here, and back to 1900, here.

24 July 2019 12:04

1,106 days of May

Theresa May is beginning her final PMQs on her 1,106th and final day as Prime Minister. That puts her 33rd out of 54, just two and a half weeks short of Jim Callaghan.

PM timeline - 24 July 2019.png

And, since you’re wondering…

PM days - 24 July 2019.pngThe shortest premiership was George Canning’s 120 days in 1827 – another period where there were three different prime ministers in roughly as many years. The Duke of Wellington – who was PM for a total of 1,055 days – had a stint of just 26 days in 1834 while Robert Peel travelled back from Italy, the nearest thing we’ve ever had to a caretaker premiership.

24 July 2019 11:48

Shape of the civil service

And speaking of the civil service, the Government has published new data on the grade structure, location and age of the civil service. The Institute's Aron Cheung has been looking through them – take a look at his tweet thread:

24 July 2019 11:37

Civil service preparation for a new prime minister

The civil service has known that a new prime minister would be arriving this summer and will have been getting ready for the new arrival. The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, met both leadership contenders to discuss their priorities, and officials in all departments will have been paying close attention to their speeches to prepare for the new government.

The Institute's Jill Rutter spoke to the BBC earlier this week about how the civil service prepares for a change of prime minister: 

And Tim Durrant wrote this piece in Civil Service World, which draws on our Ministers Reflect archive of interviews to set out what ministers want from their officials when they arrive in office:

The civil service is well practised at managing the arrival of new ministers. This, of course, goes beyond changing the nameplate on the office door. First impressions matter and getting the relationship off to a good start is essential: ministers need to be able to trust their officials and officials need to get clear direction from their ministers. A poor start to the relationship could jeopardise both of these things.

24 July 2019 11:17

How does the handover process work?

The Institute's Dr Catherine Haddon spoke to BBC News this morning to explain the handover process between prime ministers 

24 July 2019 10:49

Will it be all change at the top table? 

There is a lot of speculation today around just how many Cabinet ministers the new Prime Minister will keep in post. While it's tempting to shake things up to make your own mark, the Institute's Jill Rutter argued recently that some stability in key roles will be very useful, given that Prime Minister Johnson will face

what looks set to be the most turbulent three months in British politics since the start of the Second World War. A period of ministerial continuity – and maybe even calm – could be essential.  

Moving ministers around isn't cost-free: it takes time for new appointees to get their head around their new brief, and given the looming Brexit deadline, time is not a luxury the new Prime Minister will enjoy.

Ken Clarke, who served in numerous Cabinets in the 1980s, 1990s and 2010s, told us what the process of being moved to a new department feels like from a minister's point of view:

Reshuffle - Ken Clarke new department panic

24 July 2019 10:11

Boris Johnson appoints his Downing Street team

Before full Cabinet appointments, Boris Johnson has been busy building his team for Number 10. The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg is reporting that Dominic Cummings, formerly of the Vote Leave campaign, will be joining Johnson's team as a senior adviser:

24 July 2019 09:31

The process of appointing the Cabinet

So what is it like when the Prime Minister is appointing minister to their Cabinet? In our recent paper, Becoming Prime Ministerwe looked at this process of 'high octane HR', which plays out in front of the national media: 

The process of forming a government can take several days, depending on the circumstances. Compared to most other countries, this is extremely rapid. Reshuffles by a prime minister from the same party can often be just as comprehensive as those by an incoming government.

Prime ministers will generally appoint up to six Cabinet positions on the first day, the rest of Cabinet the following day and more junior positions in the next day or two. As civil servants told Tony Blair in 1997, it is ‘a pretty gruelling process’. Thatcher made her first appointments on the Friday following the 1979 General Election, she met with the new ministers one by one on the Saturday and they were announced to the press on Saturday afternoon. Now the precedent has become established for ministerial appointments to be announced as they happen, one by one or in small batches.

A new prime minister should not rush this process. The more that a future prime minister can think in advance about what they want to achieve in government and which individuals are most likely to deliver it, the better. If they have not had the time to consider these issues in advance, they would be well advised to take more time to make appointments, to avoid mistakes that may have a lasting effect.

And what is it like for those being reshuffled? Many current and former ministers will be hoping to make it into Prime Minister Johnson's top team – but only a few in his closest inner circle know what his plans are. For many, it will be a day of hanging on the telephone – and as Nicky Morgan told us in her Ministers Reflect interview, the turnaround between roles can be very quick. 

Reshuffle - Nicky Morgan Treasury Education

24 July 2019 08:40

Day 2 – Cabinet formation

Good morning all and welcome back to our live blog keeping track of the new government. Today Theresa May will formally step down as Prime Minister before Boris Johnson, new leader of the Conservative Party is invited to form a government by the Queen. 

With thanks to Politico, here's how we understand the day will play out:

  • Midday: Theresa May's final PMQs
  • 2pm: Theresa May to make final address at Number 10 before heading to Buckingham Palace to resign 
  • Mid-afternoon: Boris Johnson will head to the Palace for an audience with the Queen
  • 4pm: Boris Johnson to make first address as Prime Minister
  • From 5pm: Reshuffle begins

We are expecting a lot of moves in and out of Cabinet and will of course be keeping an eye on them all. This is how the Cabinet looks at the moment – if rumours are correct, lots of those names will be very different in a few hours' time.

Boris Johnson Cabinet morning 24 July

23 July 2019 17:56

That's it - for Day 1

Thanks for following along on the first day of our live blog – we’re going to stop here for today. Check back in tomorrow morning when we’ll be looking at how the handover between prime ministers actually happens. And as the day progresses, we’ll be tracking all the hires and fires from the Cabinet.

In the meantime, here’s some bedtime reading for those who are hoping for the call tomorrow. Our recent paper, Becoming Secretary of State, looks at the reality of heading a government department and how those hoping to be sitting around the Cabinet table can prepare.

Full of insights from our Ministers Reflect archive, it’s well worth a read if you’re interested in what exactly the first few days of the job will be like for the people appointed by Boris Johnson when he becomes Prime Minister tomorrow:

Becoming a secretary of state can be a daunting experience, even for those who have been a minister before. Within days, a new secretary of state can be in front of a select committee, answering questions in Parliament, defending government policy to the media or leading the response to a national emergency.

Many secretaries of state will only have a short tenure in office, 18 months to two years if they are lucky. This means that they do not have the luxury of time to learn the ropes; the break-neck speed of the job and the expectation that they hit the ground running leaves little time to adjust and consider how to do the job well.

23 July 2019 17:38

The new Chief Whip will be busy

Mark Spencer has been announced as Boris Johnson's Chief Whip. With Johnson inheriting the parliamentary arithmetic of his predecessor – a minority government and a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party, which will be reviewed in the coming months – the Chief Whip will have a busy few months ahead. 

The Institute's Joe Marshall has blogged about the parliamentary challenges for the new Government:

A small majority gives backbenchers leverage over the Government. Throughout the current parliamentary session, ministers have had to accept backbench amendments or make other concessions to try and avoid defeats – a strategy that has become less successful as political divisions over Brexit have got worse. The new PM may decide that he is willing to gamble on a few defeats – or feel that Government defeats have become so frequent that they are not a threat to its survival. But the political risks remain high.

And for more information on how whips do their job, take a look at our explainer on the whipping system

23 July 2019 16:41

How will Boris Johnson's style of government differ from Theresa May's?

The Institute's Joe Owen has tweeted about Theresa May's way of running the Cabinet and, before that, the Home Office. It will be interesting to see where Boris Johnson differs in style. 

Joe's thread starts here:

23 July 2019 16:28

"With Boris Johnson, what you see is what you get"

Baroness Anelay, who served as a Minister of State at the Foreign Office from 2014–17, told the Institute's in her Ministers Reflect interview what it was like to work for Boris Johnson when he served as Foreign Secretary – read the full interview

Baroness Anelay Boris Johnson FCO

23 July 2019 16:00

How will the EU react to Prime Minister Johnson?

Georgina Wright, from the Institute's Brexit programme, has posted a thread on Twitter looking at how EU leaders – in Brussels and in capitals across the union – are likely to react to the next Prime Minister and his stated Brexit strategy.

The thread starts here: 

23 July 2019 15:50

Full Fact assesses Johnson's record

The independent factchecking charity Full Fact have published an article bringing together their past assessments of Boris Johnson.

This is how it starts:

At Full Fact we’ve been factchecking claims that Mr. Johnson has made for almost a decade, ever since we were founded in 2010. We factchecked him, as we did every other candidate, in the 2012 London Mayoral elections; we factchecked both sides of the 2016 referendum campaign with the same degree of scrutiny. 

23 July 2019 15:34

What will the new Prime Minister face in the autumn?

On Al Jazeera News, the Institute's Tim Durrant has been discussing the challenges that Johnson will face in the autumn, including his commitment to leave the EU by 31 October with or without a deal and the difficulty of keeping all sides of his party on board.

23 July 2019 15:25

New Chief Whip appointment – unusually quick? 

The Institute's Dr Catherine Haddon points out that Johnson's apparent appointment of his Chief Whip, before actually becoming Prime Minister, is a new step for an incoming UK head of government. Will the rest of the Cabinet appointments be made in record time too?

23 July 2019 15:04

A new chief whip

It's being reported (by both The Times and The Sun) that Mark Spencer will be the new Chief Whip. It's a promotion within the Whips' Office for him – he's been a whip of various types since 2016.

It gives us a bit more information on the shape of Prime Minister Johnson's Cabinet:

Cabinet moves - 24 July at around 1600, as projected 23 July 1500

23 July 2019 13:11

The journey to the leadership 

As we head towards a Johnson premiership, it’s worth recapping how we got here. This was the most crowded Conservative leadership contest in history, with 10 candidates officially running for the crown (as well as three who toyed with the idea but dropped out before the contest began).

The Conservative leadership contest travelled the country, with both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt making big policy pledges as they attempted to woo voters.

Conservative leadership election timeline

For the details of the other contenders and the results of each of the rounds of voting, check out our explainer on the 2019 leadership contest.

23 July 2019 12:40

What will Boris Johnson's Cabinet look like? 

One of the first jobs of any incoming prime minister is to decide who gets the top jobs in their government. We already know that a number of Cabinet ministers, including Philip Hammond (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and David Gauke (Justice Secretary) are intending to resign in the coming days (or even hours). But at the moment, this is what the Cabinet looks like. Where will we be at the end of tomorrow? 

Johnson Cabinet moves ministers

23 July 2019 12:29

Boris Johnson next Conservative leader 

So who is Boris Johnson? Here's a quick profile looking at his experience in Cabinet and elsewhere:

Leader Johnson.png

And how does his parliamentary majority compare to the leaders of other parties? Of those with seats in the House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn is way out in front:

Party Leader Majorities House of Commons

23 July 2019 12:15

Result announced: Boris Johnson wins with 66% of the vote

So there it is: Boris Johnson has won the leadership of the Conservative Party with 66% of the vote. Here's how his victory compares to previous Conservative leadership contests – the last one, of course, culminated in Theresa May becoming Prime Minister without a membership vote, as all her rivals dropped out.

Conservatives since 1965 - 2019 final.png

This is therefore the first time that party members have been able to choose the leader since David Cameron’s election in 2005. It’s also the first time that members of any party – as opposed to the MPs – have chosen a prime minister.

If all goes to plan, Johnson will become Prime Minister tomorrow after Theresa May steps down. In Becoming Prime Minister, we wrote about the handover process between prime ministers:

“The resignation of an outgoing prime minister and appointment of a new one has a set routine. The Queen’s Private Secretary ushers in the new Prime Minister and after the audience with the Queen, the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary is there to accompany them back to No.10. Prime ministers usually make a speech in Downing Street when they return from the Palace.”

23 July 2019 11:32

What to look out for today

Remember, the winner of the Conservative leadership contest does not become Prime Minister today – that happens tomorrow, after Theresa May steps down. But as Dr Catherine Haddon says, there are still two big things to bear in mind today:


23 July 2019 11:23

Ministerial resignations resume

Before the result is even announced, we’ve had another ministerial resignation. Anne Milton, a junior minister at the Department for Education, has left the Government, following Sir Alan Duncan, a junior Foreign Office minister, who resigned yesterday. That means that the number of vacancies for the new Prime Minister to fill continues to grow:

Government ministers resignationNote: we're not including these as resignations under Theresa May, as they're part of the process of new government formation, rather than a resignation from Theresa May's Government. To see the story of resignations under May, take a look at this tweet from our Programme Director Gavin Freeguard. 

23 July 2019 11:00

Welcome to the IfG live blog 2019

Good morning and welcome to the Institute for Government’s live blog of the formation of the next Government. Over the next few days we’ll bring you the best of the IfG’s analysis to look at what the next Prime Minister and his team will need to deal with – including, but not limited to, Brexit! To find out what kind of thing we’ll be featuring, take a look at our live blog from the January 2018 reshuffle.

First up though, here’s Senior Fellow Dr Catherine Haddon talking about the process of becoming Prime Minister and what the winner of the Conservative leadership contest will need to be thinking about as he walks through the door of Number 10.  

And if you’d like more detail on the first few days of a new premiership, have a read of our paper on the process of Becoming Prime Minister. Although the contest has been running for a number of weeks, Prime Minister is a difficult job to prepare for 

“because of the breadth of the role, the scale of the workload, the varied pressures and the unexpected crises”

The paper has lots of practical advice for an incoming prime minister, including on managing Cabinet appointments and how to structure Number 10 around their needs. Let’s hope the contenders – and their teams – have had a read!


I am sure that I speak for many in hoping that IfG will provide the lifeline that will keep us sane over the coming months.
Thanks and best wishes to all members of the team !

Thanks for this useful chart - for Cabinet Members.
But way behind on other appointments - "those who do the real work" to quote.
Shameful that the gov.yk "Ministers" page is not even operational! "Check @10downingstreet for the latest". And that stopped dead after the Cabinet announcements.

For those of doing business with Departemnt X, need to know who's in / out, totally unacceptable.

Ref DEFRA for example, as you say "Therese Coffey promoted", "George Eustice is back". But what portfolios? What has happened to Goodwwill / Rutley / Gardiner? Even DEFRA website does not have any changes, other than SoS Villiers.