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UK: Dominic `Raab replaced by Liz Truss as foreign secretary in Johnson government reshuffle

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By Euronews  with AP
Britain's new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, after being confirmed as the UK's new foreign secretary.
Britain's new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, after being confirmed as the UK's new foreign secretary.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali

Dominic Raab has lost his job as the UK's foreign secretary amid a tense government reshuffle carried out by Boris Johnson. His replacement will be Liz Truss, formerly trade secretary.

Raab's demotion to justice minister followed a long meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, which suggested to observers there had been some disagreement. He has however also been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor.

As chief diplomat, Raab faced strong criticism last month for delaying his return from a holiday in Greece as the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

His departure was confirmed by Downing Street, the prime minister's office, on Twitter. 

Liz Truss, the new foreign secretary is adored by the Conservative Party's grassroots and has been praised for her role in negotiating new post-Brexit trade deals since the UK left the EU's economic structures. She will also remain Minister for Women and Equalities.

Michael Gove -- prominent Brexit campaigner who oversaw preparations for the UK's departure from the EU -- is given a mid-ranking Cabinet post as housing minister, along with other responsibilities.

There had also been rumours that Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel could be losing her job, but she is now reported to be remaining in place.

Downing Street has confirmed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) Rishi Sunak will also be staying in his post.

Earlier three ministers appeared to confirm their own departures.

The first to imply he was leaving was Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, who made an announcement himself on Twitter. He was quickly followed by Justice minister Robert Buckland, while Housing minister Robert Jenrick also tweeted about his exit.

Johnson's government has been under pressure on several fronts and has seen its popularity fall, according to opinion polls. It recently announced a tax rise to fund social care for the elderly; rising coronavirus cases are posing a threat to hospitals, and the country is gripped by supply shortages linked to the pandemic and Brexit.

Williamson said he was proud of reforms carried out to education for over 16-year-olds. However, he has been heavily criticised for exam disruption, school closures and his department's handling of the pandemic.

He is also known for being gaffe-prone. Last week he said he had made a “genuine mistake” by mixing up two Black athletes, soccer star Marcus Rashford and rugby player Maro Itoje, who both campaign for more government help for poor children. Williamson told a newspaper he held a Zoom meeting with Rashford; in fact it was Itoje.

In his previous role as defence secretary, he attracted ridicule for famously declaring that "Russia should go away and shut up", following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Robert Buckland's exit as justice minister has attracted some sympathy on social media, including from one senior opposition MP who thanked him for changes made on domestic violence and violence against women.

It was confirmed earlier that Boris Johnson would shake up his Cabinet on Wednesday, attempting to move on from a series of political missteps and U-turns.

His office said the prime minister would appoint "a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic".

Green MP Caroline Lucas said the reshuffle was a "cheap stunt", implying it was designed as a distraction from a planned government welfare cut.

Johnson carried out a sweeping government shuffle after his December 2019 election victory, sidelining lawmakers considered insufficiently loyal or lukewarm in their support for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

That left him with a strongly pro-Brexit top team, but critics say it shut many ambitious and competent lawmakers out of government.