Cabinet reshuffle: 7 things you need to know

Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle has seen senior ministers with green responsibilities sacked and replaced with new faces. Here’s what you need to know about the key environment-related changes to the prime minister’s top team.

1 Eustice takes the helm at DEFRA

DEFRA has said goodbye to Theresa Villiers – one of the shortest-lived environment secretaries in history. She makes way for George Eustice.

Eustice, whose background is farming, joined DEFRA as a junior minister in 2013 under David Cameron’s premiership. He was later appointed farming minister but resigned last year in protest against Theresa May’s decision to allow MPs a vote on delaying Brexit if her deal failed to pass the House of Commons. 

Prior to the Brexit referendum, Eustice criticised the Birds and Habitats Directives as “spirit crushing”, but more recently has advocated high British food standards in any post-Brexit talks.

2 Sharma to head BEIS and takes on COP26 president role

Andrea Leadsom, who had only served as business secretary for six months, has been removed as business secretary and replaced by Alok Sharma. 

The former international development secretary will also lead the UK government’s team in preparing this year’s UN climate talks (COP26) as part of his new role as business secretary.

Sharma's COP presidential appointment follows the surprise sacking of ex-minister Claire O'Neill, who subsequently hit out at the government for not doing enough to address the climate emergency. COP preparations have also been marred by reports of tensions between the UK and Scottish governments over the cost of policing and venue bookings.

Sharma has previously worked on international climate issues during his time at the Department for International Development.

3 Kwarteng retains clean energy post at BEIS

Kwasi Kwarteng has retained his post as minister for business, energy and clean growth. His brief includes overseeing the UK’s carbon budgets, as well as working with the oil and gas sector – including shale gas, according to the .gov website.

4 Goldsmith takes on third job for Johnson

In addition to his existing minister of state positions for DEFRA and the Department for International Development (DfID), Zac Goldsmith has now taken on additional responsibilities, having been appointed yesterday as minister of state in the foreign office. 

His brief has not yet been published.

Prior to losing his seat in the last general election, Goldsmith had served as parliamentary under secretary of state at DEFRA. He was subsequently appointed to the House of Lords. His previous ministerial portfolios have encompassed the international environment, climate, biodiversity and conservation.

5 Jenrick stays on but McVey sacked as housing minister

While Number 10 confirmed Robert Jenrick would remain in his post as housing secretary, Esther McVey was shown the door.

She was sacked as housing and planning minister, having only taken the post in July last year. On Twitter, McVey said she was “very sorry” to be leaving her role and wished her successor the very best. 

Her replacement at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is Christopher Pincher, MP for Tamworth.

6 Sunak replaces Javid at HM Treasury

The biggest casualty in Johnson’s reshuffle was Sajid Javid, who unexpectedly resigned after he refused to sack his aides in return for his job. Speaking with the BBC, he said that "no self-respecting minister" could accept such a condition.

Javid’s replacement is Rishi Sunak, who has previously held junior positions at the Treasury and the MHCLG. An ardent Brexiteer, he has thrown his support behind the implementation of free ports in the UK.

Sunak has only a few weeks to prepare his spring statement, which will include an announcement for 4,000 low-carbon buses, according to the prime minister, who made the announcement this week alongside stating his support for High Speed Rail Two.

7 Gove appointed minister for the Cabinet Office

Former environment secretary Michael Gove has been appointed as minister to the Cabinet Office. He will retain his position as the Duchy of Lancaster.

His new role involves advising the prime minister on developing and implementing government policy.

On Twitter, the head of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Chris Stark highlighted the importance of Gove’s role as a climate advocate for “cross-government coordination”.

Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy