UK's new PM Rishi Sunak names his cabinet
Indy

Politics is in its musical chairs era.

It seems like everyone in the Tory party is having a go at the humble of job of 'leading the literal country' this year, and every time Britain is handed to a new Tory to pick apart, they bring in a new team to take on other middle-management roles like fixing the nation's economy, or dealing with crime. Nothing major.

Yes, our words are dripping with sarcasm and it would be nice to have some consistency, but that is not the hand we've been dealt. Instead, we report on an infinite loop of cabinets regenerating into new cabinets, into new cabinets. We've seen more cabinets than a removal company. We're tired.

Anyway this week the Tories said it was Rishi Sunak's turn to play with the toy that is the country. It was only fair, he wanted to play with it in September but Liz Truss also wanted a go. So now he's the prime minister and yesterday he appointed his new team, getting rid of many of previous leader Truss's key allies, bringing back some of the one before her Boris Johnson's friends, and bringing in some completely new players.

Are they up to scratch? Is there even any point writing this considering we've had work experience placements with longer durations than what seems a minister's average stint these days? Are we having an existential crisis? Aren't you?

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We take three deep breaths, spit out shard of enamel we have in our mouth from grinding our teeth so much, and proceed with rating Sunak's cabinet, while it lasts.


Jeremy Hunt, chancellor, 5/10

Hunt has quite the pickle to sort out - the economy. The former health secretary took over from Kwasi Kwarteng last week and quietly undid the majority of Truss's economic plans before hinting that departments could see cuts in the future

The tempestuous markets settled as a result, so thanks Hunt, but we dread to think about the return of austerity too.

And here's another thought: when Hunt was appointed, people saw him as the de facto prime minister, with Truss serving as an incompetent figurehead. On the other hand, Sunak used to be the chancellor and may be tempted to meddle with Hunt's brief.

It will be interesting to observe the pair's dynamic in the weeks to come.


Penny Mordaunt, leader of the commons, 7/10

Mordaunt stood against Sunak in the first and second leadership contest and came third and second respectively, receiving 90 nominations from fellow MPs in the second contest.

Her main role is to organise government business and since she seems well respected within her party we can't see her struggling with this too much.

But then again she made a few gaffes including odd statistics and dodgy videos when running for leadership of the party so perhaps her admin skills do need work.


Dominic Raab, deputy PM and justice secretary, 2/10

Raab had these roles under Johnson but was sacked by Truss. Out of the ashes he now controversially rises, complete with his worrying Bill of Rights, and worrying attitude.

Raab refused to meet the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) for talks during barrister's industrial action this year and when he was foreign secretary he ended up having the worst-timed holiday ever and was on the beach while Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

We don't have much confidence in him.


Suella Braverman, home secretary, 0/10

She resigned from Truss's government six short days ago because she breached the ministerial code by sending "sensitive" government information to the wrong person and from her personal email.

She is tough on migration and has said it is her "dream" to see Rwanda deportation flights go ahead.

Then there's the fact that she can't communicate a sensible government message, no matter whether you agree with it or not. Instead, she uses commons appearances to rant about people who like tofu.

Is there any politician less suitable for a ministerial position than Suella Braverman?


Therese Coffey, environment secretary, 5/10

We are tempted to give Coffey 10/10, simply because we are thrilled she has been demoted. She was completely unfit to be a health secretary. In the past she had voted against a ban on adults smoking in cars with children, she promoted ideas about antibiotics that were working towards bonkers, and she has, some dodgy views on abortion too.

Industry figures are more relaxed about the prospect of Coffey taking care of the environment because she has backed green investment and some experience.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of environmental thinktank Green Alliance, told the Guardian: “Thérèse Coffey has experience at Defra, working with Michael Gove when there was a strong push to show that Britain could be greener outside the EU than as a member state. It’s good that she won’t have to start from scratch and can build on this experience to drive reform forward. In particular, as a minister in Theresa May’s government, she understood the importance of the circular economy, a policy area that has stalled since then.”

However, when environment minister in 2018 she celebrated using a controversial potent herbicide RoundUp in her garden on Twitter, which prompted scientist Dr David Coombes to call the tweet a “candidate for most inappropriate tweet of the year”.


Gillian Keegan, education secretary, 6/10

Education has been a weird department to observe lately. There have been five education ministers in four months and one minister - Michelle Donelan - only lasted in her role for two days before joining the many people quitting Johnson's government this summer. Simpler times.

With all this upheaval, maybe those of school-age now will grow up to be agile adults, equipped to deal with fast-changing environments and resilient to life's challenges.

But students are meant to do science experiments to learn, not have experiments done to them.

Consider that, then the fact that the latest person to enter the department's revolving door is someone who, when a junior minister in the department, previously voted against extending free school meals during holidays, went on holiday during the A-Level grades crisis, and seemed to have fewer numeracy skills than an average toddler, if this interview is anything to go by, and you've got yourself someone who we would give an A for effort to, but F for execution.


Kemi Badenoch, international trade secretary and minister for women and equalities, 1/10

Can one person really look after the entirety of international trade and women and equalities? We all have the same 24 hours in a day but this surely stretches the limits of most people's capabilities, no matter how efficient they are.

It is not only this that makes us skeptical about the suitability of Badenoch, who worked in the equalities department under Johnson. It is also because she stood in the first Tory leadership contest this year on an "anti-woke" platform and her stance on transgender people has been called into question because leaked recordings claim she once called trans women "men", though a government spokesperson said her comments were taken out of context, and because she made a point of having gendered toilets at her campaign launch, to give just two examples.

As for international trade, Badenoch supported Brexit and is pretty libertarian so we're not thrilled about her work here either.

Her appointment is already ruffling feathers in parliament:


These appointments only scratch the surface of the cabinet of course, and not literally - no-one likes ruining the varnish on wood. Sunak also made James Cleverly foreign secretary and put a stop to Grant Shapps' six days of hard work at the home office and put him in charge of business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) instead.

Nadhim Zahawi is now a minister without a portfolio, which sounds like a rebel without a cause, and Mark Harper is in charge of transport. Ben Wallace remains as defence secretary and Steve Barclay's in charge of health.

Meanwhile, Sunak's ascent to power saw Jacob Rees-Mogg resign from BEIS via a handwritten letter which was reportedly in English but his impenetrable handwriting looked to us like Windings.

Brandon Lewis also resigned as justice secretary and party chairman Jake Berry was booted out.

There have been other key changes but like we say, politics is in its musical chairs era. Today's news used to be tomorrow's fish and chip paper. Now it's this afternoon's.

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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