British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued reshuffling his Cabinet Thursday with two junior ministers taking on new roles.
The prime minister moved Penny Mordaunt from paymaster general at the Cabinet Office to a ministerial role at the trade department. Mordaunt is being replaced by Michael Ellis, who served as solicitor general.
The reassignments of Mordaunt and Ellis took place a day after Johnson demoted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to justice secretary while naming him deputy prime minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle seen by some as an attempt to refocus on rebuilding an economy still reeling from COVID-19 lockdowns.
Liz Truss was expected to take his position, leaving her position as secretary of state for international trade.
Several other Cabinet members left or have been reassigned.
Johnson also said Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson were no longer in their positions.
Johnson’s promise to tackle regional inequality swept him to power in 2019 with the biggest Conservative Party majority since Margaret Thatcher.
COVID-19 derailed that agenda.
“We know the public also wants us to deliver on their priorities, and that’s why the prime minister wants to ensure we have the right team in place for that,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.
Many Conservative Party lawmakers said the moves were long overdue, with one anonymously telling Reuters the Cabinet was “appallingly encrusted with barnacles.”
Raab recently faced heavy criticism for remaining on vacation in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan.