Michael Gove, Michelle Donelan and Simon Hart

Levelling up hangs in the balance as government rebuild begins

Following a record 59 ministerial resignations (at the time of writing) a high-level sacking, and the resignation of the Prime Minister after less than three years into his term, the government is left with major rebuilds if they are to continue to operate effectively.

There is the potential for more resignations to follow, however Boris Johnson has announced the three appointments to the main vacant positions in his Cabinet, and he did so before he had addressed the nation to announce his own resignation. The appointments came not long before the national address where the Prime Minister announced that he would be resigning, which could mean either new changes when the new leader of the government is announced, or Johnson’s intention to remain in a caretaker role.

Following the removal of Michael Gove as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Rt Hon Greg Clarke has been announced as the new leader of one of the government’s main focuses. With such emphasis at the minute on the second phase of the Levelling Up Fund, it was crucial that someone was brought in to head the levelling up department, however the future could see this position change further, depending on who comes in as the new Prime Minister. The Conservative MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells since 2005, Clarke was previously Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy from July 206 until July 2019. More relevant for local authorities, however, is the fact that has was also previously Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from May 2015 until July 2016, showing that he does have experience in dealing with devolved powers and those wanting to make important changes at a local scale.

The Rt Hon James Cleverly has been appointed as Education Secretary, after the position was vacated by Michelle Donelan. Donelan resigned less than 48 hours into the role and Cleverly was announced by the Prime Minister before his statement to the country. Previous to being appointed to his role in the Department for Education, Cleverly was Minister of State (Minister for Europe and North America) in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, a role he was appointed to earlier this year. He is also the Conservative MP for Braintree, a role he was elected to in May 2015.

The final Cabinet role filled this morning, as the Prime Minister looks to accept the end of his leadership, is that of the Secretary of State for Wales. The Rt Hon Robert Buckland has been appointed into this role, filling the void left by Simon Hart who resigned alongside so many of his colleagues this week. The role involves the overseeing of the overall strategic direction of the UK Government in Wales, including foreign affairs, tourism, the Welsh budget and the Welsh Government and Assembly Liaison. Previous to his appointment, Buckland was Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, a role he filled from July 2019 until September 2021.

With the future of the entire government hanging in the balance, these appointments could change with the changing of the leader of the Conservative Party, however it is important for local governments to use this to understand how they can take control of their own levelling up plans, alongside other projects. You can do so by registering to the Levelling up Virtual Event on 17th November. Register here

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