Alex Chalk replaces Dominic Raab as justice secretary in mini reshuffle

Oliver Dowden named deputy prime minister as Raab quits over findings of investigation
Photo: PjrNews/Alamy Stock Photo

By Tom Scotson

21 Apr 2023

Alex Chalk will become justice secretary while Oliver Dowden will take on the role of deputy prime minister in a mini reshuffle of Rishi Sunak's cabinet triggered by Dominic Raab's resignation over bullying allegations.

Chalk, who has been defence procurement minister since October, will also take on the lord chancellor brief, which is expected to have a role in King Charles's coronation next month. 

The MP for Cheltenham was a speechwriter for former Conservative leader William Hague and is a key supporter of Sunak, having backed him in both leadership campaigns. 

He was picked for the role ahead of other female ministers including Victoria Atkins, financial secretary to the Treasury; Victoria Prentis, attorney general; and Lucy Frazer, culture secretary.

Dowden, also the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will take Raab’s DPM brief after the former cabinet minister resigned in response to findings that he had behaved in an "intimidating manner" towards civil servants.

The inquiry into bullying allegations against Raab, led by Adam Tolley KC, was given the green light in November after eight complaints were made about Raab’s dealings with civil servants, dating back to his time as foreign secretary and Brexit secretary. 

Dowden is a close ally of the prime minister, and ran his former campaign to become Conservative Party leader. 

James Cartlidge has moved from the Treasury to replace Chalk as minister of defence, while Gareth Davies will take on Cartlidge’s former brief as exchequer secretary to the Treasury. 

Meanwhile, Michelle Donelan will be replaced as science, innovation and technology secretary by Chloe Smith when she goes on maternity leave for ten weeks. 

Julia Lopez is also due to take maternity leave and will be temporarily replaced by Sir John Whittingdale as a minister of state jointly in the Department of Culture and Department of Science, Innovation and Technology. 

Tom Scotson is a political reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared

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