Liz Truss has named former education secretary James Cleverly as secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs.
Following her appointment as prime minister with a 14-point victory over Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership race, Truss named Cleverly as her replacement at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) when announcing the first appointments to her new cabinet today.
Cleverly was elected as member of parliament for Braintree in Essex in 2015. Before that, he served in the London Assembly for eight years, including a stint as the Conservative party leader in the assembly.
In his short time since being elected to the house, Cleverly has held an eclectic set of positions in government, including deputy chairman of the Conservative party, parliamentary under-secretary of state for exiting the European Union, minister without portfolio, chairman of the Conservative party and his last position as secretary of state for education.
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He has also held two positions in the FCDO, as minister of state for Middle East, North Africa and North America and, later, minister of state for Europe and North America, a position which he held when the new prime minister was secretary of state.
Cleverly has never voted against the majority of his party on any issue, and voted in favour of the merger of the Foreign Office with the Department for International Development (DFID), as well as the cuts to Official Development Assistance.
However, during the debate on the cuts, Cleverly said: “This Government’s commitment to the UK’s being a leader in development has not changed. The integrated review reaffirmed our pledge to fight against global poverty and to achieve the UN sustainable development goals by 2030, and we reiterate our commitment to return to 0.7% when the fiscal situation allows.”
Our CEO, Stephanie Draper, said of Cleverly’s appointment:
“We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, James Cleverly. He will bring valuable experience to the role having worked in the department most recently as minister of state for Europe and North America.
“With escalating global crises, the task at hand is not easy and will require immediate action. In the last year alone, we’ve seen an unprecedented food shortage in East Africa and around the world, as well as the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and now climate-related floods in Pakistan.
“Our ability to respond to these crises – and many others – have been exacerbated by the savage UK aid cuts, proving that limiting the UK aid budget to 0.5% of GNI is not viable to ensure a secure future for us all. We need the cap to be lifted before more wasteful cuts ensue, with a clear plan to return to 0.7, and a dedicated minister for international development and humanitarian assistance to position the UK as a positive partner on the world stage.
“The new secretary of state needs to ensure UK aid stays poverty-focused with a long-term, patient approach. Sustainable development for the most marginalised communities must also remain a priority, along with tackling climate change and the protection of human rights and civic space worldwide.”
Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford, has been named as minister for development in the cabinet. She will be the first exclusive minister for development since the foreign office merged with DFID in 2020.
Ford had been an MP since 2017, and has held the positions of parliamentary under-secretary of state for children and families and, more recently, parliamentary under-secretary of state for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, a position which sat in the FCDO.