On 15 September, prime minister Boris Johnson began reshuffling his cabinet of senior ministers. This dramatic turn of events coincided with the parliamentary debate on the government’s proposed £20 per week cut to universal credit. Some have speculated that the cabinet reshuffle was a technique to distract the public from the government’s drastic cuts.
It’s a bit exciting wondering what new awful people will replace the old awful people isn’t it
— Rosie Holt (@RosieisaHolt) September 15, 2021
Another Twitter user simply said:
You can't reshuffle shit.
— That Baratheon Girl 🍷💙🇪🇺 ⚽🏉🌹 (@baratheongirl) September 15, 2021
Possibly referring to Raab’s comments suggesting that the UK should trade with nations known to violate the European Convention on Human Rights in the name of growth, David Osland said:
Dominic Raab is an outspoken opponent of the Human Rights Act. He's just been appointed justice secretary.
— David__Osland (@David__Osland) September 15, 2021
Tweeting a potted history of Truss’ corruption, rapper Lowkey shared:
New foreign secretary Liz Truss was courted by neocon think tank the American Enterprise Institute, funded by Exxon Mobil, Shell & Koch bros
As trade minister, she forced weapons sales to Saudi even after £15 billion of BAE systems arms helped drive Yemen to the point of famine
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) September 15, 2021
Drawing attention to Dorries’ stoking of Britain’s culture wars, Ash Sarkar shared:
The new Secretary of State for Culture Wars. https://t.co/ypepsaGTUY
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) September 15, 2021
The dramatic turn of events coincided with a parliamentary debate on the government’s plan to cut an uplift to universal credit by £20 per week. Arguing that the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle is simply a distraction from the Tories’ cut to universal credit, Rachel Wearmouth shared:
This reshuffle completely distracts from the vote on Universal Credit, btw, and the fact that slashing the £20 uplift is going to push people into poverty.
— Rachel Wearmouth (@REWearmouth) September 15, 2021
National secretary of The People’s Assembly Laura Pidcock added:
So many journos drooling over the reshuffle, using their large platforms to share *breaking* news with us whilst a seismic cut to Universal Credit is being made. A grotesque assault on working class people is taking place & they are largely silent on it. Utterly reprehensible.
— Laura Pidcock (@LauraPidcock) September 15, 2021
UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Olivier De Schutter has written a letter urging the UK government to reconsider the proposed cut. He argues that it may be in breach of international human rights law and is likely to push an estimated half a million households into poverty:
📢UN Human Rights expert @srpoverty warns about imminent cut to Universal Credit uplift of £20 per week affecting 6 million low-income households. Read @DeSchutterO official letter to the UK: https://t.co/x5DAvN8KyN. Government expected to reply. #KeepTheLifeline pic.twitter.com/kOjkVcfY4d
— UN Special Rapporteur on poverty and human rights (@srpoverty) September 16, 2021
Sharing a video of her speech at the House of Commons debate – in which she recounted correspondence from constituents on the potentially devastating impact of the cut on their lives – Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana tweeted:
When I asked people to contact me about the impact of the £20-a-week Universal Credit cut, I was overwhelmed by the response. The messages were heartbreaking.
I can't do justice to the depth of pain and anger, but today I spoke and voted against this attack on the working class. pic.twitter.com/Z8mdQKZ5Pw
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) September 15, 2021
Highlighting that the £20 per week cut to universal credit will disproportionately impact poor and disabled people, Labour MP for Hemsworth John Trickett tweeted:
Disabled & poorer families are facing winter with a lethal mix of price rises & universal credit cuts.
Stripping away £20 a week from the disabled while putting their energy bills up £139 should be a criminal offence.
— Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett) September 15, 2021
Setting out the impact of the planned cut coupled with the rise in national insurance tax on disadvantaged young people, Howard Beckett shared:
For an 18-20 year old the UK minimum wage went from a meagre £6.45 to a miserly £6.56 in April ‘21. A pathetic 1.7% rise. Inflation is running at 3.2%; £20 is about to be taken from Universal Credit & they face a National Insurance tax rise. Austerity for our youth is lost hope.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) September 16, 2021
Summarising the government’s war on the working-class, senior economist Sarah Arnold shared:
In the next few months, low income working households face:
— Sarah Arnold (@Sarahsarnie) September 16, 2021
Changes…now the campaign
On 15 September, Liz Truss replaced Dominic Raab as foreign secretary. The prime minister appointed Raab justice secretary and deputy prime minister. Former education secretary Gavin Williamson, former housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick, and former justice secretary Robert Buckland lost their roles as cabinet ministers, having all faced scandals over the course of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, chancellor Rishi Sunak and home secretary Priti Patel remain in place. Other ministers, including newly appointed housing secretary Michael Gove and culture secretary Nadine Dorries, have moved positions.
Campaigners from organisations including the People’s Assembly, Black Lives Matter, the National Education Union and Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament are coming together. They’re holding a national demonstration against the government’s “corruption, cronyism and exploitation” during the Tory party conference in Manchester on 3rd October.
Featured image via Youtube – ITV News
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