Steve Barclay and Nadim Zahawi have been appointed health secretary and chancellor respectively on a chaotic evening for Boris Johnson’s government.
Previous incumbents Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak dramatically quit over the Prime Minister’s admission he knew about sexual misconduct allegations surrounding former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher in 2019.
Their departure sparked a wave of resignations and widespread dissent among Conservative ranks, with calls for Johnson himself to go growing louder.
However, he has moved to replace the departed cabinet members, with Barclay shifting over from his position as chief of staff and Zahawi moving to number 11 Downing Street from education secretary.
Michelle Donelan has replaced Zahawi in that role, a statement confirmed.
Both Javid and Sunak said they had “lost confidence” in Johnson’s ability to lead in the wake of the latest scandal to engulf Downing Street.
Pincher, who quit as deputy chief whip last week following claims that he groped two men at a private members’ club, was appointed to the office in February despite Johnson knowing allegations against him as far back as 2019.
The PM admitted he had made a “grave mistake” in his handling of the situation, but Sunak, who had been due to make a joint economic speech with Johnson next week, said “it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different”.
Javid added the British people “expect integrity from their government” adding the Conservatives were now neither “popular nor competent”.
Johnson thanked both for their service during their time in cabinet.
Barclay was appointed chief of staff in the wake of the partygate scandal in February and was previously chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a Brexit secretary.
Labour greeted Barclay’s appointment to the helm of the Health Department by congratulating him as “the shortest serving Health Secretary in history”.
Zahawi meanwhile gained a public profile during his time as vaccines minister, but will now be tasked with tackling the economy amid the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
He will also be charged with putting together a crucial autumn Budget as inflation bites.
The PM now faces a convening on the 1922 committee where he will be grilled by MPs on Wednesday.
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