Rishi Sunak allies replace Dominic Raab as Justice Secretary and Deputy PM

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Rishi Sunak has appointed two close allies to the senior positions vacated by the exit of Dominic Raab, promoting Alex Chalk to Justice Secretary and Oliver Dowden to Deputy Prime Minister.

It is the latest title to be bestowed upon Mr Dowden, who as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office already plays a key role at the heart of Rishi Sunak’s administration.

For Mr Chalk it is a significant promotion and means he moves from the Ministry of Defence, where he was in charge of procurement, to take on the much more high-profile role of leading the Ministry of Justice.

The pair have long been close to Mr Sunak and it was little surprise when both got jobs in the new administration following the short-lived tenure of Liz Truss.

A trained barrister, he is a former solicitor general for England and Wales and has been a prisons and probations minister.

He and Mr Sunak are also both Old Wykehamists, former pupils at Winchester College, and Mr Chalk was among the ministers who joined the large-scale resignation that helped spell the end of Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Replacing Mr Raab, he will take on responsibility for prisons, courts and a host of other issues including his predecessor’s controversial Bill of Rights plan.

Mr Dowden was a vocal backer for Mr Sunak in both Tory leadership contests last year, with his entry to No 10 leading to his return to the frontbench and to the senior Cabinet Office roles.

The loss of crunch by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton had triggered Mr Dowden’s resignation as party chairman in Mr Johnson’s Government.

The swift appointment of Mr Chalk makes the Cheltenham MP the 11th person appointed Justice Secretary since the Conservatives took power in 2010.

Shadow justice secretary Steve Reed, greeting his new counterpart, said that the Tories have “destroyed the justice system”.

“Real change can only come with a Labour Government,” he said.

No 10 also said that Chloe Smith will cover as Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology while Michelle Donelan is on maternity leave.

It is a return to the frontbench for the Norwich North MP, who was work and pensions secretary during the brief tenure of Ms Truss.

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