With five days to go until the new prime minister is announced, Liz Truss’s plans for her Cabinet and her Downing Street staff are already well advanced.
The Queen will ask the victor to form a government on September 6, and the shape of a potential Truss Cabinet is already emerging.
The three most senior ministerial roles, of chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary, appear to have been decided, with Kwasi Kwarteng, Suella Braverman and James Cleverly inked in for the top jobs.
Loyal supporters such as trade minister Ranil Jayawardena, and rising stars like Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat are tipped to be promoted, and Ms Truss must find places for ministers in all of the major factions, including Rishi Sunak’s supporters.
But wherever there are winners there must be losers, and some big names will be exiled to the back benches. Ms Truss intends to do away with “the cliques and in-fighting” that dogged No 10 during the Johnson years, so plotters like Michael Gove and Mr Sunak will be left in the cold.
The Foreign Secretary wants to be less presidential in style, giving ministers more freedom to act on their own initiative. This will mean a smaller Downing Street team, more akin to the lean operation run by Margaret Thatcher than the expansive teams accumulated by Mr Johnson. Her team says she wants to “do fewer things better” and she has always felt there are too many people in the Cabinet.
Nigel Adams, a minister without portfolio, and Johnny Mercer, the veterans’ affairs minister, are likely to find themselves out of the Cabinet, while Alok Sharma’s Cabinet role as Cop26 president expires later this year.
Last night, a Truss campaign source said: “Liz is fighting to the end, she is not complacent, taking nothing for granted, her focus is squarely on the campaign. But we are turning half an eye to government and there is a small group working on transition.
“While Liz will exercise a lot of grip at the top, she will give the Cabinet the freedom to run their own departments… She wants to challenge stale groupthink.”
Suella Braverman, the current Attorney General, swiftly gave her backing to Ms Truss after she was eliminated in the second round of the current leadership race, and her reward will be the job of Home Secretary, replacing Priti Patel.
Popular on the Right of the party, Ms Braverman was an integral member of the “Spartan” group of Tory MPs who voted three times against Theresa May’s Brexit deal which ultimately led to her resignation and Boris Johnson’s so-called hard Brexit.
Ms Truss voted Remain in the EU referendum but her subsequent conversion to the Brexit cause and hardline plan to override the Northern Ireland Protocol provided the pair with a common cause.
Ms Braverman will be tasked with ending the problem of illegal migration across the Channel, and Ms Truss feels that a Brexiteer is needed to take the sort of hardline stance adopted by Ms Patel. Ms Braverman is a vocal supporter of sending illegal Channel migrants to Rwanda.
Ms Braverman’s stance on trans issues – where she argues that people have become “terrified of pointing out the basic facts of biology” – also aligns with Ms Truss, who has told hustings events: “I’m a plain-speaking Yorkshire woman and I know that a woman is a woman.”
The child of Kenyan and Mauritian immigrants, she has described the British Empire as on the whole “a force for good”. She is likely to be assisted in the Home Office by Kit Malthouse, the current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who served as policing minister until July and is expected to move back to his previous role. Mr Malthouse is close to Boris Johnson, having been one of his deputy mayors in London’s City Hall, and will represent the Johnsonite faction in Parliament of MPs who still believe the Prime Minister should have been allowed to carry on. He has not publicly endorsed either Ms Truss or Rishi Sunak, meaning he is unlikely to be given a more senior role.
James Cleverly will be Liz Truss’s replacement as Foreign Secretary if she is elected prime minister.
She has seen him at close quarters during the two years he worked alongside her in the Foreign Office as a minister of state, before his promotion to Education Secretary by Boris Johnson following the mass resignations that prompted the Prime Minister’s own exit.
As minister of state for Europe from February to July this year, Mr Cleverly’s brief included Ukraine, meaning he will be able to hit the ground running on the most important foreign affairs issue currently faced by the Government.
A resident of Blackheath, Mr Cleverly is a member of Ms Truss’s “Greenwich set” as well as being a Lt Col in the Territorial Army.
Mr Cleverly also brings with him his experience as a former chairman of the Conservative Party, which would help Ms Truss with her planning for the next general election, which will take place at some point before January 2025.
Mr Cleverly is likely to be assisted by Tom Tugendhat, whose popularity was boosted by his strong run in the Tory leadership election. The chairman of the foreign affairs select committee is tailor-made for a role in the Foreign Office, and, like Ms Truss, he is a China hawk.
Mr Tugendhat, who surprised many MPs by coming out in support of Ms Truss after he was knocked out of the leadership race, will give moderate, “One Nation” Tories a voice in Cabinet. The former Army officer, who backs Ms Truss’s tax proposals and favours greater defence spending, has never held a ministerial position before. This means he is unlikely to be given a major Cabinet role straight away, and is likely to be given the right to attend Cabinet in a more junior position. The role of security minister is another possibility.
Kwasi Kwarteng, currently the Business Secretary, will be promoted to Chancellor in a Truss government, according to well-placed sources.
If Ms Truss is elected, it would be the first time since the Cameron-Osborne years that No 10 and No 11 have been fully aligned on policy issues, as Mr Kwarteng is a free marketeer who has been a political ally of Ms Truss since they entered Parliament in 2010.
Mr Kwarteng co-authored the 2012 book Britannia Unchained with Ms Truss and three other Tory MPs. It made the case for a low-tax, low-regulation economy achieved in part by slashing the size of government.
Mr Kwarteng, who lives near Ms Truss in Greenwich, shares her deep scepticism of windfall levies on energy firms and thinks stimulating economic growth through low taxation is the key to solving the cost of living crisis.
He is likely to be assisted in the Treasury by Jacob Rees-Mogg, currently the minister for Brexit opportunities, who is not only aligned with Ms Truss on economic policy but also has practical experience in the City. As a former chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tories, he will continue to represent the Right of the party in the Cabinet. Mr Rees-Mogg’s role is still under discussion, however, and he has been linked with the roles of business secretary and levelling up secretary.
Sir John Redwood, the one-time head of Margaret Thatcher’s Downing Street policy unit, is also expected to be included in the Treasury. He is understood to have helped Ms Truss to shape her thinking on economic issues in the leadership campaign and has said he would take a ministerial job if offered one.
Ben Wallace is one of the few current Cabinet ministers expected to stay in the same job if Ms Truss becomes prime minister.
Hugely popular with party members, he was favourite to take over from Boris Johnson at one point, before deciding not to stand. Widely regarded as one of the most capable ministers in the current Cabinet, he could well be Ms Truss’s pick as deputy prime minister, if she decides to appoint a formal deputy.
He has worked closely with Ms Truss since the war in Ukraine started, having taken a firm line on Russia and worked hard to arm Ukraine both before and after Russia’s invasion. His strong anti-Moscow line is shared by Ms Truss, who travelled to Moscow in the days before the war.
Mr Wallace clashed with Rishi Sunak over defence spending when Mr Sunak was chancellor, and the fact that Ms Truss has pledged to raise defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2020 indicates that they will see eye to eye in a new government.
Penny Mordaunt, currently a junior trade minister, is being considered for a beefed-up role at the MoD alongside Mr Wallace. Ms Mordaunt came close to pipping Ms Truss to the final two slots in the Tory leadership race, and her popularity with MPs – 49 of whom voted for her to become the next prime minister – is likely to guarantee her a Cabinet role.
She served as the first female defence secretary under Theresa May, but lasted fewer than three months in the job before Boris Johnson demoted her in his first Cabinet. It remains possible that she will be given a bigger job, running her own department, but she is currently expected to be given a No2 role with the right to attend Cabinet.
The fact that she went so deep into the leadership race meant that she frequently argued with Ms Truss, particularly over transgender issues, which has counted against her in considering what job she will be given.
Therese Coffey: The Work and Pensions Secretary is expected to be offered the role of chief whip, which would make her the third woman to hold the post. Her friendship with Ms Truss dates back to when they both ran to be the Conservative candidate in the same Norfolk seat. She acted as Ms Truss’s campaign manager during the Parliamentary stages of the leadership contest.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith: The former Conservative leader and prominent China hawk is tipped for a non-departmental role in the Cabinet, such as the Leader of the House of Commons. He is closely aligned with Ms Truss on foreign policy, tax and Brexit, and would act as a link to Right-wingers and Tory grandees on the backbenches.
Lord Frost: The former Brexit negotiator is being lined up for the role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, having endorsed Ms Truss in his Telegraph column early in the leadership race. He credited her with having “done more than anyone else to make Brexit work, first on trade, and now in the Foreign Office” and praised her approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Kemi Badenoch: Having outperformed expectations in the leadership campaign, the junior communities minister impressed Ms Truss and will be rewarded with a Cabinet post, possibly becoming transport secretary or education secretary. She has worked closely with Ms Truss under the equalities brief and shares her firm gender-critical stance on transgender issues.
Nadhim Zahawi: The Chancellor, whose own leadership bid proved to be a flop, has forcefully backed Ms Truss since then, but accepts he will be demoted from a job he has only held for a matter of weeks. Having burnished his reputation as vaccines minister, he is being discussed as a potential replacement for Steve Barclay as health secretary, or for James Cleverly in education.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: The woman who succeeded Ms Truss as International Trade Secretary last year was another member of the hardline Brexit “Spartans” and a keen proponent of the benefits of Brexit freedoms. She has publicly backed Ms Truss for leader and having secured trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, Ms Truss is said to be content to keep her in post.
David Mundell: The former Scottish secretary is under consideration for a return to the Cabinet in his old role.
There is a small pool of Scottish MPs for Ms Truss to choose from, and the current incumbent Alister Jack, who has not publicly backed either candidate in the race to become prime minister. Mr Mundell introduced Ms Truss at the recent hustings in Perth.
Sir Robert Buckland: One of the most high-profile victims of Boris Johnson’s 2021 reshuffle, the former justice secretary was brought back in July to serve in the interim government as Welsh Secretary. Sir Robert caused a stir by publicly switching his allegiance from Mr Sunak to Ms Truss. He is expected to be kept on at the Wales Office to shore up Ms Truss’s Left flank.
Simon Clarke: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury was one of Ms Truss’s early backers and was a researcher on her book Britannia Unchained before he became an MP in 2017. Despite serving as Mr Sunak’s deputy at the Treasury, he rubbished Mr Sunak’s tax plans and his economic thinking is aligned with Ms Truss. He is being considered for the role of business secretary.
Nadine Dorries: The vocal Truss backer appears set to stay on as Culture Secretary, for now at least. She has her eye on a peerage, which may be given by Mr Johnson in his resignation honours, but the Truss camp is keen to avoid the early by-election that would be triggered by her moving to the House of Lords. If this took place, Penny Mordaunt would be in the running to replace her.
Ranil Jayawardena: A member of the Truss campaign team who served under her at Trade, he is in line for a full Cabinet role and is seen as a good fit for Environment Secretary. His seat of North East Hampshire is large and rural, but he also has experience of facing down farmers when they have complained about the effects of free trade deals with foreign countries.
Chloe Smith: A Norfolk MP like Ms Truss, she was an early backer of Ms Truss’s leadership bid and has long been on the brink of a Cabinet role. Currently minister of state at the Department for Work and Pensions, Ms Smith is considered a dependable performer and an experienced hand who may now take over the department.
Edward Argar: The former health minister is well-liked by Ms Truss and is regarded as a highly capable talent whom she would like to bring into the Cabinet, possibly as Cabinet Office minister or communities secretary. An MP since 2015, he is seen as a rising star whose promotion would help placate restive backbenchers and junior ministers elected in recent years.
Brandon Lewis: The former Northern Ireland secretary, who resigned last month, has been a vocal backer of Ms Truss’s hard-line approach with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol. A qualified barrister, the Charnwood MP is poised for a swift return to the Cabinet, with the potential to replace Dominic Raab in the role of Justice Secretary.
Sajid Javid: Having triggered the government exodus when he became the first minister to resign last month, Mr Javid sprang another surprise when he backed Ms Truss rather than his friend Mr Sunak. There is talk among Truss allies of him being rewarded with the job of Northern Ireland Secretary, though the former chancellor might try to hold out for a bigger role.
Michelle Donelan: The woman who was education secretary for two days could be given a second crack at the job, according to Truss allies. A member of the 2015 intake of Tory MPs, she impressed Ms Truss as higher education minister. She became the shortest-serving Cabinet minister in history when she quit last month just 36 hours after accepting the job from Boris Johnson.
Mark Fullbrook: A veteran Tory strategist who was the party’s head of campaigning. He has advised the party ever since and is co-chairman of Ms Truss’s campaign. His 34 years of experience will be invaluable in the coming general election.
Sophie Jarvis: A long-standing adviser to Ms Truss, she is an alumna of the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think-tank aligned with Ms Truss’s economic vision. She will be tasked with repairing the fractured relationship between No 10 and Tory backbenchers.
Jamie Hope: Having successfully honed the policies that have put Ms Truss within touching distance of Downing Street so far, Jamie Hope will carry his policy role into No 10 if Ms Truss wins. He began working for the party in the 2017 general election, before joining Ms Truss’s team in April 2021.
Ruth Porter: Ms Porter worked at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Policy Exchange think-tanks, and was later a policy adviser while Ms Truss was environment secretary and justice secretary. She moved to the London Stock Exchange in 2017 and then into PR, before joining the Truss campaign.
Adam Jones: Mr Jones became Ms Truss’s special adviser on media affairs in June 2020 and followed her to the Foreign Office in 2021. A former consultant at public affairs firm Portland, he will be given a senior communications role, either as press secretary or in the more senior job of director of communications.
Jason Stein: One of Ms Truss’s closest confidants, Mr Stein worked as a special adviser to Ms Truss when she was chief secretary to the Treasury. He also briefly worked for the Duke of York and is currently managing director of the PR firm FGS Global, seconded to the Truss leadership campaign.
Simon Case: Mr Case is not a political appointee and is expected to stay in his role, at least for now. If he decides to leave after a turbulent period with Mr Johnson, he would likely be replaced by Antonia Romeo, currently the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.
Some of the party’s biggest names will be banished to the backbenches if Ms Truss wins, ending careers for some.
Rishi Sunak had been considered as health secretary, but his attacks on his rival ruled him out of contention.
Priti Patel had hoped that by staying neutral she could stay on as Home Secretary, but no Cabinet job is currently earmarked for her.
Michael Gove will not return, and Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, and Mark Spencer, the Leader of the House, all publicly backed Mr Sunak and will be high-profile casualties.
Alok Sharma is expected to leave when his role as president of Cop26 expires, and Greg Clark, interim Levelling Up Secretary, does not expect to continue.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated Mark Fullbrook was head of campaigning during the transition from Thatcher to Major as Prime Minister. In fact, Sir Anthony Garrett was the head of campaigning during this time, only later handing over to Mr Fullbrook. We are happy to correct the record.