Is this the age of churn in British politics?

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle is the latest twist in an increasingly hectic merry-go-round of major state offices since the Brexit referendum.

The attrition rate for the top four positions in government has largely tripled following the Brexit vote compared to the period between 1979 and June 2016. Excluding those in office at the time of the vote, there have been four prime ministers, six chancellors and foreign ministers, and seven interior ministers since the referendum.

The average term of office of Chancellor, Foreign Minister and Interior Minister has fallen to less than 500 days since mid-2016. According to some political experts, the constant turnover in leadership positions hinders the ability of ministers to carry out their duties effectively and implement their policies efficiently.

Priestly timeline showing who held the office of Prime Minister
Priestly timeline showing who held the office of Chancellor
Priestly timeline showing who held the position of Minister of the Interior
Priestly timeline showing who has held the position of Secretary of State since 1998

The Institute for Government, a think tank, has examined ministerial tenure and warned that accelerated cuts and changes are undermining government effectiveness.

Tim Durrant, IfG program director, said regular turnover was “very damaging” and meant ministers were focusing on “quick wins” rather than long-term policymaking. However, he noted that several steps involved senior politicians with significant experience.

There were also departures within a few high-ranking ministerial positions. Sunak’s reshuffle meant the Conservatives now have their 16th housing minister in the last decade with the appointment of Lee Rowley.

“It is extremely difficult to develop a coherent long-term strategy when leadership changes so regularly,” said Charlie Hart, head of development consulting at Knight Frank.

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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