Reshuffles are a moment for Prime Ministers to assert their authority.
Normally this is about showing MPs who’s boss, a bit of bloodletting. A refresh. Not so today as Sunak completes a Westminster first by having a reshuffle without sackings.
It’s the civil service that Sunak has scythed through with his adjustments to some of the Government Departments. So-called machinery of Government changes, such as merging Business and Trade, have been attempted by previous Prime Ministers but thwarted by senior civil servants. Sunak’s grasp of Government and attention to detail describe why he’s succeeded where others have failed.
Focus on Science
Sunak announced his Maths to 18 policy announced at the beginning of the year and made a passionate argument in favour of science. He has also passionately espoused the need for Britain to become the “next Silicon Valley”, pledging in January to increase public funding in research and development to 20 billion pounds ($24.06 billion).
Today he’s further with this agenda by setting up the ‘Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’. The new Department will ‘drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy’.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been split up. We now have a department for ‘Energy Security and Net Zero’ tasked with securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation.
The Department for International Trade merges with what’s left of BEIS in a new Department for Business and Trade and DCMS loses its digital part, becoming the Culture, Media and Sport Department – or the ‘Ministry for Fun’, a sobriquet coined by its past leader David Mellor.
All these changes are intended to help make the Government run more smoothly and laser focus on Sunak’s agenda to kickstart the economy, reduce energy prices and turn around his party’s fortunes before an election at the end of next year.