The shake-up seems to confirm the Tories are pursuing an ideologically driven austerity agenda that they hope can be sold as economically necessary
Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle is about both tightening his grip on power and putting more departments on the Treasury list for re-education. By splitting up the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which had challenged Mr Sunak when he was chancellor, the prime minister has decapitated a rival economic policymaker in government. The new Department for Business and Trade will have some clout because its cabinet minister is Kemi Badenoch, a darling of the Tory right. During her bid to become Tory leader, Ms Badenoch seemed to think that government intervention lies at the heart of everything that is wrong with the British economy. Giving her a ministry designed to use state power underlines the nature of the political coup taking place.
Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss all in very different ways railed against the economic orthodoxy imposed by the Treasury, tapping into Brexiters’ claims it was behind “project fear”. What previous leaders were upending was the legacy of George Osborne, the former chancellor who made austerity economics the organising principle of Tory politics. Mr Sunak’s elevation to Downing Street has revived Osbornomics. What his reorganisation also represents is the restoration of banking perspectives in government. Ms Badenoch, an ex-banker, and Lucy Frazer, a former corporate barrister put in charge of a new slimmed-down culture department, represent that trend.