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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.
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.