Liz Truss' Cabinet: No white men in top positions

(From left) Britain's new Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP

LONDON - British Prime Minister Liz Truss made key appointments to her government after being formally appointed leader on Tuesday.

The leading Cabinet lieutenants of Britain's third woman prime minister share her right-wing ideology.

They are all also people of colour. For the first time in British history, no white men will occupy any of the four "great offices of state": prime minister, Treasury, foreign office and home affairs.

Here is a look at Truss's choice for the three key positions:

Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng


An enthusiastic backer of Brexit, Kwarteng replaces Iraqi-born Nadhim Zahawi, who lasted only two months as chancellor.

Kwarteng takes on the heavy task of trying to steer the country through a cost-of-living crisis and probable recession.

He is a close friend of Liz Truss, and at 47, is the same age as the new prime minister.

Kwarteng becomes Britain's first black chancellor of the exchequer having served as energy minister under Johnson.

The son of Ghanaian immigrants to Britain in the 1960s, Kwarteng is an ultraliberal, strongly favouring free market economics and the low taxes that Truss has promised to deliver in the early days of her premiership.

The pair will be at the forefront of urgent plans to help millions of Britons suffering under the strain of rocketing energy prices that have pushed Britain's inflation to a 40-year high above 10 per cent.

Writing this week in the Financial Times, Kwarteng said there was a need for tax cuts in order to put "money back into people's pockets".

In further comments published by the FT before Truss' victory, he stressed that "Liz is committed to a lean state".

Home Secretary Suella Braverman


She is admired by the right for her attacks on "woke" politics but her legal acumen will be put to the test when tackling one of the government's toughest jobs.

Braverman, 42, was appointed attorney general a year ago, serving as the government's principal legal adviser, having worked as a lawyer before becoming an MP in 2015.

The government is currently embroiled in a legal battle to implement its plan to send migrants illegally crossing the Channel to Rwanda. Finding a solution to the thorny political issue, which ultimately scuppered predecessor Priti Patel, will be made her top priority.

But she faces an intense legal fight. An intervention by European courts has so far prevented the removal of any migrants, and a full hearing is ongoing.

Braverman, whose parents are of Indian origin and emigrated to Britain in the 1960s from Kenya and Mauritius, was one of the first to declare her leadership bid following Boris Johnson's downfall.

Her credentials as an arch-Brexiteer and right-wing culture warrior have made her popular with Conservative Party members. She is one of 28 so-called "Spartan" Tory MPs, who refused to back ex-prime minister Theresa May's Brexit deal on all three occasions it was voted on in parliament.

Braverman has also said that owing to the energy crisis fuelled by the war in Ukraine, "we must suspend the all-consuming desire" to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly


Britain's first foreign secretary of colour is a low-profile pick to succeed Truss in the global-facing role but is a loyal lieutenant with some diplomatic experience.

A mixed-race army reservist with the actual rank of lieutenant colonel, Cleverly spent two years as a junior foreign minister following a stint before that in the department handling Brexit.

Little known in Britain outside Westminster, Cleverly was first elected to parliament in 2015 after serving in London's devolved assembly from 2007 and becoming an ally of then-mayor Boris Johnson.

Cleverly, 53, backed leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum. His elevation to be Britain's top diplomat is seen as a plum reward for loyally supporting Truss in this summer's divisive Conservative leadership battle with ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak.

Cleverly takes the post at a fraught time, with his ability to foster political relationships - especially in key European capitals - set to be sorely tested.

Europe's relatively unified response to Russia's war in Ukraine is likely to be further strained by spiralling energy prices, while post-Brexit tensions over various issues - in particular related to Northern Ireland - could be severely stoked.

Meanwhile, media reports say some in US President Joe Biden's administration take a dim view of Truss after she failed to impress during her year-long tenure as foreign secretary. AFP

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