PM drafts in one of Parliament’s ‘nice guys’ to replace Dominic Raab after bullying row: Ex-barrister and defence minister Alex Chalk gets first Cabinet job as Justice Secretary while Rishi Sunak names close ally Oliver Dowden his new deputy
- Alex Chalk replaces Dominic Raab as Justice Secretary in Government shake-up
Alex Chalk was today named the new Justice Secretary after Dominic Raab resigned the role after a report found he bullied his staff.
The 46-year-old had been a defence minister before getting the call-up from Rishi Sunak to replace the departing Mr Raab as head of the Ministry of Justice.
In a series of Government changes in the wake of Mr Raab’s exit, Mr Sunak has named his close ally Oliver Dowden as his new Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Dowden will combine the role, which will mean he will stand in for Mr Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions when required, with his existing job as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Mr Raab had been Mr Sunak’s deputy since last October, having previously held the role under ex-PM Boris Johnson.
He faced Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner across the House of Commons despatch boxes a number of times when deputising at PMQs.
Alex Chalk was today named the new Justice Secretary after Dominic Raab resigned the role after a report found he bullied his staff
In a series of Government changes in the wake of Mr Raab’s exit, Rishi Sunak has named his close ally Oliver Dowden as his new Deputy Prime Minister
Mr Raab announced his resignation as Justice Secretary and Deputy PM this morning after a report found he bullied his staff
Mr Sunak, Mr Dowden and Robert Jenrick, who is immigration minister, have previously been referred to as the ‘three Musketeers’ at Westminster after rising through the Tory ranks together.
Mr Dowden was a key figure in Mr Sunak’s campaign during last summer’s Tory leadership contest.
He was previously Conservative Party chairman under Mr Johnson but quit in June last year after disastrous by-election losses in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
Mr Chalk’s promotion to Cabinet for the first time comes after he held a series of junior ministerial roles under Mr Johnson and then Mr Sunak.
He entered Parliament in 2015 after being elected MP for Cheltenham, his home town, at that year’s general election.
The Oxford-educated former barrister faces a battle to hold on to his Gloucestershire constituency at the next general election,
He saw his majority cut to less than 1,000 votes at the 2019 election after being run close by a Liberal Democrat rival.
Mr Chalk was prisons minister and then solicitor general under Mr Johnson, before being named defence procurement minister when Mr Sunak became PM in October last year.
On his website, a biography of Mr Chalk – a married father-of-three – states he is ‘regularly described as one of Parliament’s ‘nice guys”.
It also says he is ‘considered as an “up-and-coming” and a “rising star” of the 2015 intake’ of Tory MPs.
During his 14-year legal career, Mr Chalk specialised in counter-terrorism, murder and serious fraud cases.
He was also previously a speechwriter for William Hague when he was Tory leader.
James Cartlidge has replaced Mr Chalk in the Ministry of Defence while he, in turn, has been replaced as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury by Gareth Davies.
In a series of other Government changes announced today, Michelle Donelan will be replaced by Chloe Smith as Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary while on maternity leave.
Sir John Whittingdale will replace Julia Lopez as a minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport while she also takes maternity leave.
Ms Smith has previously distanced herself from her husband’s views about Covid.
Sandy McFadzean, a vice-president of investment bank Credit Suisse, attended a London protest against coronavirus restrictions in August 2020.
He has also previously posted on Twitter: ‘Covid-19 is most likely an outbreak of mental illness.’
He added in another social media post: ‘Government need to be clear. Either there is a killer virus on the loose or there isn’t. (Spoiler alert: There isn’t).’
Mr Sunak has risked a row with his appointment of Mr Chalk as Justice Secretary and Mr Dowden as the new Deputy PM following Mr Raab’s departure.
It had been expected the PM might use the opportunity of a mini-reshuffle to promote another woman to the top level of his Government in order to improve the gender balance of his Cabinet.
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