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UK: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffles Cabinet

February 7, 2023

The changes, including the creation of four new ministries, focus on energy and net zero targets and come amid a cost-of-living crisis and a series of public sector strikes.

Rishi Sunak with Cabinet members
Grant Shapps (right) will lead a new energy security and net zero departmentImage: Simon Walker/Photoshot/picture alliance

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his Cabinet and made a number of departmental changes on Tuesday,

His first cabinet shakeup since assuming office comes amid public sector strikes and in-party ethics scandals.

Sunak, who once worked for a hedge fund, is trying to steer the economy through a prolonged period of double-digit inflation and stagnation, a situation worsened by the soaring cost of energy amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

Sunak creates four new ministries focused on energy

On Tuesday he announced plans to create a new energy security and net zero department, led by former Business Secretary Grant Shapps.

The new department will allow the UK to focus on providing "cheaper, cleaner, more secure sources of energy — cutting bills, cutting emissions, and cutting our dependence on international energy supplies, like those of Putin’s Russia," Sunak said.

He also laid out proposals for three other departments, with one focusing on science and innovation.

Who are the key movers in Sunak's Cabinet?

In the upheaval, Kemi Badenoch has been appointed the new secretary of state for business and trade.

Former Culture Minister Michelle Donelan was appointed to run the department for science, innovation and technology, while former Housing Minister Lucy Frazer took on the new role for culture, media and sport.

Greg Hands, a former trade minister and one-time party enforcer for the Conservatives, was appointed party chair.

Strikes in the UK amid cost of living crisis deepens

February has seen massive strikes among the UK's public sector workers, including what unions called the "biggest ever" in the history of Britain's National Health Service on Monday.

The prime minister is also trying to convince the business sector of the benefits of the UK's decision to remain out of the European single market, a consequence of its decision to leave the European Union.

"The government needs to reflect the priorities of the British people and be designed to deliver for them," Sunak said on Twitter. "These changes will focus teams on the issues that will build a better future for our children and grandchildren."

His spokesperson said Tuesday's adjustments might not offer a "silver bullet" to all Britain's problems, but it would help the PM deliver his agenda.

Brexit regret, or Bregret, spreads in UK

jsi/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)