Key appointments in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle

Rishi Sunak has reshuffling his cabinet after sacking the Tory party chair Nadhim Zahawi.

Zahawi was forced out for failing to declare an HMRC investigation into his tax affairs.

The cabinet overhaul was expected to be “relatively limited” but included the breakup of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the Department for International Trade.

No one other than Zahawi was “sacked” from government. Here we take a look at the key figures in the reshuffle.


Grant Shapps

In his fourth cabinet position in five months, Shapps is now secretary of state for energy security and net zero. Since September, the 54-year-old has served as transport secretary, home secretary and business secretary. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield will lead the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which will be responsible for long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation.

Shapps is one of the most experienced Conservative ministers, having also previously worked as minister for international development and for housing. However, he has also endured difficult times in his political career, having to explain for example why he had a second job as a “multimillion-dollar web marketer” under the pseudonym Michael Green for at least a year after he first became an MP.

Downing Street explained that much of the rationale behind Tuesday’s reshuffle lay in creating the new energy department – a version of the Department for Energy and Climate change, which the Tories scrapped in 2016. A government spokesperson said the changes would help the government plan its energy security policies better and, in turn, bring down inflation.

Shapps echoed this message on Tuesday, tweeting: “My focus will be securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and thereby helping to halve inflation.”

Michelle Donelan

Donelan is now secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, fronting the newly formed Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. The 38-year-old held the post of culture secretary for five months, during which time she took on controversial online safety legislation and abandoned the privatisation of Channel 4.

Donelan will be taking responsibility for the online safety bill with her to the new department. This means she still has to navigate a difficult course between Conservative and Labour MPs who want the legislation to be tougher on technology companies, and those close to the prime minister who are sceptical of such an approach. She is also in charge of drawing up the UK’s delayed semiconductor plan, which will set out ways to make the country less reliant on Chinese microchips.

Before taking over the technology portfolio, Donelan was known for being the shortest-serving cabinet minister in British history after resigning from Boris Johnson’s government just 36 hours after being appointed education secretary.

The MP for Chippenham previously announced that she would be taking maternity leave in 2023.

Related: Rishi Sunak appoints Greg Hands as Conservative party chair in cabinet mini-reshuffle

Kemi Badenoch

Badenoch becomes secretary of state for business and trade as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Trade merge as the Department for Business and Trade. The 43-year-old has been international trade secretary since September. She also holds the position of minister for women and equalities, though it is unclear if she will continue in this role.

Downing Street said on Tuesday it made sense for the cabinet minister negotiating trade deals to also represent British business interests. “When you’re planning trade deals to benefit UK business, it makes sense to link them together under one secretary of state,” a spokesperson said.

Many of Badenoch’s highest priorities will be carried over from her last job, not least negotiating new post-Brexit bilateral trade deals. Agreements with the US and India have stalled, but ministers are hoping they may be able to revive elements of the proposed US deal, especially if they agree a deal with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Badenoch is relatively new as an MP, but is already popular on the right of the party. In the summer of 2022, the MP for Saffron Walden was eliminated in the fourth round of the Conservative party leadership contest.

Lucy Frazer

Frazer is now secretary of state for culture, media and sport, leading what Downing Street said would be a “refocused” Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which has lost the “digital” responsibilities of its old name. The 50-year-old has had a varied ministerial career, most recently serving as housing minister, and her departure from that role means the UK will soon have its sixth housing minister in 12 months.

Downing Street said the new department would focus on the “importance of culture, media and sport to [the] economy and build on [the] UK’s position as a global leader in the creative arts”. A spokesperson added: “If you look at the contribution that the UK sports and culture sector has on the economy, it’s huge – and indeed so are the opportunities to grow it.”

One of Frazer’s first roles will be to publish the widely trailed football white paper, which is expected to establish an independent regulator for football in England for the first time.

The MP for South East Cambridgeshire has previously been a minister for transport, and prisons and probation, and the financial secretary to the Treasury.

Greg Hands

Hands is now chairman of the Conservative party, responsible for party administration and overseeing the Conservative campaign headquarters. The 57-year-old was most recently a trade policy minister, a role he has undertaken under various prime ministers with gaps in between. The MP for Chelsea and Fulham was born to British parents in the US and has been in parliament for 18 years.

Related: Lee Anderson: new Tory deputy chair is one-man controversy machine

Hands is widely seen in the party as a smart and capable operator, though some of his colleagues have suggested he lacks the temperament to boost the Conservatives’ flagging morale.

A London MP who speaks multiple languages and was a committed remainer, some worry that he will struggle to connect with the party’s more conservative grassroots, especially in the north, where it is facing the prospect of heavy losses at the next election. His deputy as party chair, however, is Lee Anderson, an MP from Nottingham who voted leave and has strongly conservative instincts on social issues.

Hands and Anderson will have three main jobs: to lift the mood of the party, to create the strategy for the next election and to raise money to fight it. The last of these could prove tricky: Labour has overtaken the Conservatives in fundraising in recent months as wealthy backers have increasingly turned away from the party of government.