Almost all dismissed ministers had been in office since July 2019, when Johnson’s first government took office. Their substitutes have not yet been announced. Smith’s dismissal was greeted with greater surprise than the others, because he was considered one of the most competent members of the government and the one who had contributed most to solving the three-year government crisis in the region. Four of the six dismissed ministers are women, which has led to speculation that the disparity between men and women (currently 75% and 25%) may further increase in the next government.
The reshuffle had been widely anticipated in recent days by the British media, and was justified by sources close to Johnson with the need to “promote a new generation of talent for the next few years,” wrote the Guardian. Those fired were not really that old: Skidmore was only 38 years old, the others around 50. The political motivation behind the reshuffle is mainly to strengthen Johnson’s leadership and move the executive’s business after three years and a half stall after the Brexit referendum.
After the British elections last December, in fact, Johnson had left his government practically intact, waiting for a more favorable moment after January 31, that is when Brexit officially took place. In the UK, reshuffles are more frequent and less traumatic than they are in Italy, for example, because ministers can be fired by the prime minister, without many formal steps.