London: The Brexit cabinet has been replaced by a Build Back Better cabinet, if folks were wondering what Boris Johnson has been planning, it is his legacy. Johnson’s legacy revolves around two parts—Part 1 is that the Brexit is more or less accomplished, the less is Northern Ireland; Part 2 is the array of the electoral reforms in progress.
Let us take a look at the cabinet that will implement these domestic reforms. New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is a career politician and somewhat of a chameleon, a former Liberal Democrat activist, and Remainer Truss is now being hailed an alternative to Margaret Thatcher. Her belief in free markets and her spectacular success in securing trade agreements across the world has made her top of the cabinet secretary polls, Truss is still a liberal and as the Minister for Women and Equalities, she will develop the PM’s Levelling-up agenda including the UK’s first-ever global LGBT conference to tackle inequality around the world. During the “golden era” pre-2015 Truss was pro-China visiting twice, since 2019 she has become more hawkish about human rights and values versus human rights in supply chains. Truss’s recent international experience will stand her in good stead at the FCDO, her priorities will be US, Russia, and China relationships and her appointment will bring closure to the Dominic Raab Afghanistan debacle.
Raab negotiated the sop of Deputy Prime Minister to compliment his transfer to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, displacing the hard-working but discreet Robert Buckland. Raab is expertly qualified to take on the ECHR as he has degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge in Jurisprudence; he is known not to be a fan of the Human Rights Act.
Michael Gove has been in the gossip columns recently but this does not detract from the serious and cerebral capacity he has as a politician, Gove’s influence is pervasive whatever he is in charge of. Now SoS of Housing (he has form here, he was Shadow Minister for Housing in 2005), after endless studies, assessments, and policy adjustments Gove is likely to deliver what the Red Wall needs, affordable housing that complements the green agenda.
Gove also has form in Scotland and the PM is relying on him to save the Union, it is reported that Gove intends to scrap David Cameron’s ‘English Votes for English Laws’. Gove is a tireless individual and transforms whatever department he operates in.
Iraq-born Nadim Zahawi’s effective vaccine roll-out program has rewarded him with Education SoS, he is a good communicator and organiser, co-founder of YouGov the international internet-based market research firm, and the first non-white Education Secretary. A chemical engineer, he previously has been on many Select Committees, advised No10 on apprenticeships, and was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education from Jan 2018 to July 2019. Education’s previous incumbent who was in charge during the Covid exam circus is not expected to sit quietly on the back-benches.
Nadine Dorries takes over from Oliver Dowden at the Ministry for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; a trained nurse Dorries has twenty years of a variety of experiences in parliament, her forthrightness, spontaneity and Christian views have both won and lost her support. Dorries does not tolerate wokery and has never hesitated to affirm her ideology. Dowden joins Ben Elliott at CCHQ as Party co-chair.
Anne Marie Trevelyan is expected to expand on the good work of Liz Truss. Trevelyan is a Eurosceptic and socially conservative, she was once accused of Sinophobia by the British-Chinese Labour MP Sarah Owen, for a joke she posted on Twitter. Trevelyan has held many offices that qualify her for SoS in DTI.
It is worth noting that Truss, Dorries, Gove and Zahawi were not privately educated and now Johnson has 2 more women in place, another ethnic origin SoS and a Red Wall MP as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Priti Patel, Sajid Javid, Ben Wallace and Rishi Sunak remain in place, this is no longer an Eton-educated cabinet, and the players who will compete in the next leadership election are likely to be Sunak, Javid and Truss.
The new cabinet and whips will be charged with passing two new reforms that form jointly Part 2 of the Johnson legacy that will secure a long-term Conservative government.
Now let us take a look at the electoral reform legislation in progress, taking note of the date 2023. The Boundary Commission for England has published its initial proposals for new constituency boundaries. The 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies was formally launched in January this year. The Commission is required to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is more equal; in doing so, the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543. Under the proposals just under 10% of the existing 533 English constituencies remain unchanged.
On average, 73,181 were people registered to vote in parliamentary elections in each UK constituency at the time of the 2019 General Election, but this figure hides big differences between constituencies. The smallest constituency has 21,106 voters, while the biggest has 113,021.
The new proposals aim to make the number of electors in each Parliamentary constituency more equal. Each new constituency recommended by the Commission is required by law to contain between 69,724 and 77,062 electors, meaning there will be a significant change to the current boundaries.
This favours the Tory Party as there will be more Labour marginals that are more likely to transition to Conservative.
The second reform being proposed/pushed through is the “First-past-the-post” system for the election of Mayors in England and Wales, and Police and Crime Commissioners, to replace the Supplementary Vote (SV) system. In the SV system, voters have a first and second choice. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first preference votes then they are elected. If no candidate reaches the 50% threshold, the two candidates with the highest number of votes remain. This eliminates the other candidates. The second preference of the eliminated candidates are counted. Any made for the two remaining candidates are transferred. The candidate with the most votes at the end of this process is elected.
Conservatives are more likely to win in a First-past-the-post system as second options typically end up going woke.
With an unprecedented majority in the Commons and the new team on board, the necessary legislation will certainly pass.
The Telegraph reports “Conservative party staff were told by Oliver Dowden, the new co-chairman, on Wednesday night to start preparing for a general election which could be in as little as 20 months’ time.” The Telegraph understands Boris Johnson is also eyeing up a general election in May or June 2023, a year earlier than expected.
Pundits are at odds, some say Johnson will govern for 12 years and others say once his legacy is secure and Conservatives will remain in power for the foreseeable future, nonetheless, Johnson will not be averse to watch the leadership manoeuvres begin.