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UK PM Johnson to reshuffle ministers on Wednesday – source

© Reuters. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

By Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reshuffle his cabinet of senior ministers on Wednesday as he seeks to refocus the government on raising living standards after the COVID-19 pandemic, a source in his Downing Street office said.

Johnson’s bid to tackle regional inequality has been eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic since he won the biggest Conservative Party parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher in a 2019 election.

“The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country,” the No. 10 source said.

“Yesterday the PM set out his plan for managing COVID during the autumn and winter. The government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities,” the source said.

Johnson, whose Conservatives have a working majority of 83 in parliament, last week set out plans for a tax rise to fund a reform of health and social care.

Rumours of a reshuffle, and who might be on their way up or on their way out, have been swirling for weeks.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak sat next to Johnson in parliament as the British leader took part in his weekly question-and-answer session, but Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, among those tipped to be moved, were absent from the front bench.

Williamson has been much criticised over the last year for his handling of school closures and exams during the pandemic.

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Johnson has faced calls to sack Raab after the foreign minister went on holiday in Crete as the Taliban advanced on Kabul and amid claims that thousands of emails from people seeking help to leave Afghanistan had gone unread.

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