The new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, has selected her cabinet, and she’s making history already from her first days in office. For the first time in British history a white man will not hold one of the country’s four most important ministerial positions.
Truss appointed Kwasi Kwarteng – whose parents came from Ghana in the 1960s – as Britain’s first Black finance minister while James Cleverly is the first Black foreign minister.
Cleverly, whose mother comes from Sierra Leone and whose father is white, has in the past spoken about being bullied as a mixed-race child and has urged the party to do more to attract Black voters.
Suella Braverman, whose parents immigrated to Britain from Kenya and Mauritius six decades ago, succeeds Priti Patel as the second ethnic minority home secretary, or interior minister, where she will be responsible for police and immigration.
The growing diversity is in part thanks to a push by the Conservative Party in recent years to put forward a more varied set of candidates for parliament.
Until a few decades ago, British governments have been made up of mostly white men. It took until 2002 for Britain to appoint its first ethnic minority cabinet minister when Paul Boateng was appointed chief secretary to the Treasury.
Rishi Sunak, whose parents came from India, was Kwarteng’s predecessor in the finance job and the runner-up to Truss in the leadership context.
“Politics has set the pace. We now treat it as normal, this diversity,” said Sunder Katwala, director of non-partisan think-tank British Future, which focuses on migration and identity. “The pace of change is extraordinary.”
The presence of women is also very strong. Truss has appointed Thérèse Coffey as Deputy Prime Minister and Health secretary. The former work and pensions secretary is a long-time friend of Liz Truss and was closely involved in her leadership campaign. Coffey, who was elected MP for Suffolk Coastal in 2010, previously served in a number of roles including environment minister, Commons deputy leader and assistant whip.
Chloe Smith replaces new Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey as work and pensions secretary and Anne-Marie Trevelyan has become transport secretary, replacing Grant Shapps.