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Sunak makes mini ministerial reform in the UK and tries to put economy on track


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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a minor ministerial overhaul on Tuesday. The measure seeks to reduce inflation, at heights due to rising energy prices, and stimulate the economy — perhaps changing the fortunes of his Conservative Party in crisis.

The biggest change consisted of the subdivision of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy portfolio, then in charge of Grant Shapps, into three new departments. They are Energy Security and Zero Carbon; Business and Commerce; and Science, Innovation and Technology. Shapps will lead the first, Kemi Badenoch second, and former culture minister Michelle Donelan the last.

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The Culture folder, in turn, was reduced, and passed to the command of Lucy Frazer.

Finally, the prime minister nominated former banker Greg Hands for the presidency of the Conservative Party. Seen as a safe choice within the party, he posted a photo with Sunak shortly after the announcement in which he stated that the “work starts immediately”.

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Hands replaces Nadhim Zahawi, who was sacked late last month after an investigation found violations of the ministerial code for lack of fiscal transparency. He, who also served as a minister without portfolio in Sunak’s cabinet, became the target of frying after the revelation that the HMRC, the British department responsible for collecting taxes, had launched an investigation into possible financial irregularities.

In announcing the changes, the government spokesman said they were not a magic bullet that could solve all of Britain’s problems, which include a wave of strikes in public services. But, he continued, they will help the premier to try to advance his agenda, especially in relation to energy security. The sector suffered a scale of prices across Europe after the invasion of Russia by Ukraine, about to complete one year.

The news was met with a mix of criticism and praise. Ed Miliband, a member of the Labor Party responsible for overseeing government policies on the climate crisis, opted for the first path: “rearranging the seats on the deck of the Titanic that is the failed energy policy of the Conservatives will not save the country”, he said.

Sunak, 42, took office on Oct. 25 as Britain’s first non-white leader, the youngest in two centuries and richer than King Charles III. He arrived as the third prime minister of the year, after the resignations of Liz Truss and Boris Johnson – marked, respectively, by poor decisions in the economic area and inappropriate parties during the pandemic.

In addition to the discrediting of his acronym due to musical chairs, the PM is still dealing with a stagnation after a prolonged period of double-digit inflation, and is under pressure to try to prove his belief that the UK can still reap benefits from its departure from the European Union. According to projections by the International Monetary Fund, the UK economy will shrink by 0.6% this year, and the country will be the only one in the G7, a group of the world’s main economies, to enter into recession.

“Government needs to reflect the priorities of the British people and be designed to meet them,” Sunak said on Twitter. “These changes will allow teams to focus on the issues responsible for ensuring a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

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