Boris Johnson’s new cabinet has met for the first time, meeting without masks in a packed room, as the prime minister delivered what he called a “halftime talk of encouragement” to his renewed team.
Photos from the meeting showed at least 30 people crammed shoulder to shoulder in the cabinet room, including aides and officials, none of them wearing masks and with windows apparently closed.
Similar images from the last cabinet meeting leading up to Johnson’s shakeup on Tuesday drew criticism from the Labor Party and others, as government councils suggest that people “cover their faces in closed and crowded environments,” especially if people are with people who normally don’t. meet.
At Friday’s meeting, Johnson was flanked by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Simon Case, the cabinet secretary. Sitting opposite was Dominic Raab, who was demoted from foreign secretary to justice secretary, but was also officially appointed deputy prime minister.
According to the handful of outlets allowed in for the start of the meeting, Johnson appeared jovial, as he told his new lineup they had to deliver.
“To mix up my metaphors, this is, if you like, the halftime pep talk,” Johnson said. “This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, adjust our rubber protectors and our scrum caps.
“We go out on the court knowing that we are going to have to do it together and we are going to have to do it as a team.”
In another complicated metaphor, Johnson said he was “thinking about childbirth,” making a pun on pregnancy: His wife, Carrie, is pregnant with their second child together.
I’ve seen a few delivery rooms, I’ve probably seen as many delivery rooms as anyone in this … with the possible exception of Jacob. [Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, who has six children]Johnson said.
“I know that childbirth usually involves superhuman effort on the part of at least one person in the room. But there are many other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome. “
Johnson has at least six children of his own, but refuses to discuss how many he has in all.
In the unexpectedly brutal and extensive shakeup, which began on Wednesday, former International Trade Secretary Liz Truss replaced Raab as foreign secretary and a number of cabinet ministers were fired.
Among those now absent were former education secretary Gavin Williamson, community secretary Robert Jenrick and Robert Buckland, who was fired as justice minister to make way for Raab.