With Johnson hospitalized, who’s who in Britain’s Cabinet?
LONDON (AP) — With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalized in intensive care after contracting the coronavirus, who’s left to run the country? A look at the key players in Johnson’s Cabinet:
DOMINIC RAAB, FOREIGN SECRETARY AND FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE
As first secretary of state, Raab has been designated by Johnson to temporarily take on many of the prime ministers tasks, including leading the government’s emergency daily coronavirus “war Cabinet” meeting.
Raab, 46, was appointed foreign secretary in July 2019 and has been seen by many as a rising star in the Conservative Party.
Prior to heading the Foreign Office, he served at the helm of Britain’s Brexit department, but only for several months. A keen advocate of leaving the European Union, he resigned as Brexit secretary in November 2018 after clashing with then-Prime Minister Theresa May over her plan to leave the EU.
He positioned himself as a “hard Brexit” advocate during the 2019 Conservative leadership race, but was knocked out before reaching the final two stages.
Raab was a lawyer before he was elected as a lawmaker in 2010. He is a longtime admirer of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
MICHAEL GOVE, CABINET OFFICE MINISTER
Gove, 52, is the most experienced Cabinet member, having led the education, justice and the environment departments and served as the Conservatives’ Chief Whip. He also played a key role in the campaign to take Britain out of the EU.
Gove said Tuesday that he was self-isolating at home after one of his family members showed mild coronavirus symptoms. He added that he had no symptoms and was continuing to work as normal.
In 2016, he shocked many when, instead of backing Johnson’s bid to become prime minister as widely expected, he decided instead to compete for the top job himself. That move failed, and he eventually joined May’s government. He tried and failed again to run for Conservative leader in 2019.
Gove had been loyal to May, backing her Brexit policies even as former colleagues denounced her withdrawal deal. While he was education secretary, he was heavily criticized by teachers for his radical overhaul of the school curriculum and the exams system.
MATT HANCOCK, HEALTH SECRETARY
Hancock, 41, recovered from what he called mild coronavirus symptoms in early April after a week in self-isolation. For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and death.
The youngest contender in the Conservative leadership race last summer, Hancock bowed out of the contest after he came sixth in the first round.
Hancock was appointed health and social care secretary in July 2018, a job that has put him at the forefront of the government’s response to COVID-19. Hancock has attempted to counter criticisms that the government has acted too slowly, and has promised to increase the number of tests being performed for the virus almost tenfold to 100,000 a day by the end of April — an ambitious goal that will be hard to meet.
Hancock was previously culture and media secretary, was responsible for policies including broadband, broadcasting, and the cyber and tech industries.
Hancock was elected as a Conservative lawmaker in May 2010, and entered government in September 2012.
Before entering politics Hancock worked as an economist at the Bank of England.
RISHI SUNAK, TREASURY CHIEF
Sunak, 39, was appointed chancellor of the exchequer after his predecessor Sajid Javid resigned in February after clashing with the prime minister. Sunak had been Javid’s deputy, chief secretary to the Treasury.
Sunak has drawn praise for introducing radical financial plans to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. These included billions in an emergency response fund to support the National Health Service, and subsidizing up to 80% of wages for staff kept on by their employers.
Before becoming a Conservative lawmaker in 2015, Sunak worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs and a hedge fund. He also co-founded an investment firm.
Sunak has described himself as a first-generation immigrant. His parents came to Britain from Africa; he was born in Southampton, and was educated at the exclusive private school Winchester College. He also studied at Oxford and Stanford universities.
Sunak is married to Akshata Murthy, daughter of an Indian billionaire.
PRITI PATEL, HOME SECRETARY
Patel was appointed home secretary, a key post responsible for policing and immigration, in July 2019. Unlike Raab, Gove, Hancock and Sunak, all of whom have led televised news conferences in recent weeks, she has barely been seen in public since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Patel, 48, was one of the politicians who led the Vote Leave campaign during Britain’s EU referendum.
Her career has seen her working in corporate PR and as an adviser for beverage company Diageo.
A law-and-order hardliner, Patel has been criticized by the rights group Liberty for her “consistent record of voting against basic human rights protections.” She had previously spoken in favor of the death penalty, although she later said she did not support it.
Patel, who was first elected as lawmaker in 2010, had served as International Development Secretary under May. She was forced to step down in 2017 after reports revealed that she had conducted unauthorized meetings with Israeli politicians while she was supposedly on a family holiday.