Who takes the key roles in UK Cabinet after Sunak and Javid step down

Boris Johnson was rocked by the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid on Tuesday evening.

Tough task ahead for new appointments after Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid quit the Cabinet Flickr
Michelle Donelan (left), Nadhim Zahawi (centre) and Steve Barclay (right) are taking up new jobs in the Government.

Latest updates:

  • Kensington MP Felicity Buchan has resigned from her role as parliamentary private secretary to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy
  • Lee Anderson, the Tory MP elected in 2019 for the Red Wall seat of Ashfield, questioned the Prime Minister’s integrity as he withdrew support
  • Tory MP for Harlow Robert Halfon admitted that he has “lost confidence in the Prime Minister”
  • Before 11am on Wednesday, Johnson had lost three more junior ministers after Will Quince, Laura Trott and Robin Walker tendered their resignations
  • The influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee is due to reach a decision on the dates and process for elections at a meeting
  • Sajid Javid, who resigned as health secretary, is expected to deliver a personal statement in the House of Commons setting out the reasons for his departure

In a dramatic evening at Westminster, Boris Johnson’s premiership was further rocked by the resignations of Rishi Sunak as chancellor and Sajid Javid as health secretary.

Tendering their resignation letters to the Prime Minister, Sunak and Javid both underlined the importance of maintaining standards in office and the “tone” set by leaders.

Their exits caused a scramble in Downing Street, with urgent challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis needing to be addressed.

Amidst the turmoil caused by the dramatic steps taken by Sunak and Javid, and a number of junior ministers also opting to quit, Johnson moved swiftly to find replacements to shore up his Cabinet.

Nadhim Zahawi was appointed as chancellor, Steve Barclay was named as health secretary, whilst Michelle Donelan was given the role of education secretary.

But, who are the newly-appointed ministers? Here, STV News takes a look at those taking up new jobs in Boris Johnson’s government.

Chancellor – Nadhim Zahawi

Born in Iraq to a Kurdish family, Zahawi came to the UK as a nine-year-old when his parents fled the regime of Saddam Hussein.

He is believed to be one of the richest politicians in the House of Commons, having helped found polling company YouGov after studying chemical engineering at University College London.

Zahawi has been the MP for Stratford-on-Avon since the general election in 2010.

His first government role came in 2018 under Theresa May as a junior education minister.

After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019, he served as a junior business minister and carried on in that position until September 2021.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Zahawi has handed the brief as the UK’s vaccines minister as efforts to get jabs into arms ramped up across the country.

Following the exams fiasco brought on by the cancellation of exams, Gavin Williamson was sacked as education secretary, with Zahawi brought in as his replacement in September 2021.

He has served in that role since then before being appointed to Chancellor by Johnson, succeeding Rishi Sunak following his resignation on Tuesday evening.

Zahawi denied that he threatened to quit the Government unless he was given the role as Chancellor following crunch talks with Johnson at No 10.

The 55-year-old now takes on hugely challenging job amid the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.

Health secretary – Steve Barclay

The MP for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010, Barclay has already held a number of high-profile positions in government.

He served as a junior minister in the Treasury and the Department of Health under Theresa May, who also appointed him as secretary of state for exiting the European Union during a critical period in the Brexit negotiations.

Barclay stayed in the role under Boris Johnson until January 2020, before becoming minister for the Cabinet Office in September 2021.

In February this year, he was appointed as the Downing Street chief of staff as part of efforts to steady the ship in the wake of investigations into parties held at No 10 during the pandemic.

The son of a trade union official father and a civil servant mother, he has previously described himself as coming from a “working class Northern background” in Lancashire.

The youngest of three brothers, he came from the first generation of his family to go to university, reading history at Cambridge and spending a gap year serving in the Army with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

After training as a lawyer, he worked as regulator for the Financial Services Authority and head of anti-money laundering at Barclays Bank before embarking on a political career.

Education secretary – Michelle Donelan

Before she became the MP for Chippenham in 2015, Donelan had a career in marketing.

She spent time working on Marie Claire magazine and for WWE.

The 38-year-old was appointed as a junior education minister in February 2020.

Donelan worked under Gavin Williamson in the Department for Education amidst the backlash of the Government’s handling of exams during the pandemic.

She continued to serve in the role until Tuesday evening when she was handed a promotion to education secretary by Boris Johnson, replacing Nadhim Zahawi who is the new chancellor.

At times she has clashed with the higher education sector, most notably on the issue of free speech.

She recently called on university vice-chancellors to “reflect carefully” over whether their membership of schemes such as Advance HE’s Race and Equality Charter was “conducive” to creating an environment for free speech within universities, which the sector pushed back on with a strongly-worded letter.

Donelan has also spoken passionately on the subject of student safety on campuses, calling on all universities to sign a pledge to end the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment and assault.