Dominic Raab: Sam Coates on PM's difficult judgements
Rishi Sunak has moved quickly to replace Dominic Raab as Justice Secretary promoting Alex Chalk from the Ministry of Defence. Chalk, aged 46, is the MP for Cheltenham and was for a long time William Hague’s speech writer.
While Mr Chalk has been identified as a potential high flier since he was first elected in 2015, he had not risen through the ranks as quickly as some of his fellow intake from that year.
Those included Mr Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
But as one of the 2015 intake, MrChalk was close to the Prime Minister who made him minister for procurement in the Ministry of Defence when he took power last October.
Defence procurement has been fraught with difficulty and is currently facing a parliamentary inquiry with Mr Chalk fiunding himself having to deal with legacy problems on delays to delivering new heavy armoured vehicles for the army and massive operation problems with the new £1 billion Type 45 destroyers among other problems.
However, MPs have been impressed with the way he handled a difficult brief and today he appears to have got his reward with an elevation to the cabinet in a department which is infamous for dififculties in controlling spending, dealing with prisons and tackling an overwhelmed courts system.
Mr Chalk will also be expected to take up Mr Raab’s brief on looking at human rights legislation and whether there should be a British Bill of Rights.
Although sme MPs now believe that this “could be quietly dropped” with Mr Raab’s departure.
Mr Chalk cut his political teeth working for William Hague as his speech writer when he was Foreign Secretary and is the latest among a group of special advisors to become a cabinet minister.
Mr Chalk had previously worked in the MoJ as a first a junior minister and then the prisons minister before becoming Solicitor General, one of the law officers in the ministerial ranks.
His appointment will anger supporters of Boris Johnson because he was one of the ministers to quit to force the former Prime Minister to resign last year.
There are also concerns that a leading Brexiteer Mr Raab has been replaced by a Remain supporter from the 2016 referendum.
One Tory MP described Chalk as “talented and likeable”.
But another said: “He’s another Sunak careerist.”
Mr Chalk has seen off competition from work and pensions minister Guy Opperman, Attorney General Victoria Prentis and Treasury minister Victoria Atkins who were all on the shortlist to replace Raab.
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