James Cleverly becomes third education secretary in two days

MP for Braintree succeeds Michelle Donelan, who left after 35 hours

MP for Braintree succeeds Michelle Donelan, who left after 35 hours

James Cleverly has been appointed as education secretary, becoming the third person to hold the title in two days.

His appointment follows the resignation this morning of Michelle Donelan, who was only appointed on Tuesday evening following the promotion of Nadhim Zahawi to the post of chancellor.

Donelan’s departure after 35 hours came after the resignations of schools minister Robin Walker, children’s minister Will Quince and skills minister Alex Burghart yesterday which left the DfE with just one minister, Baroness Barran.

Cleverly said that “as someone whose grandfather was a teacher and whose children are currently in the education system, I am incredibly passionate about education and proud to be appointed secretary of state.

“From childcare and exams results, to our schools white paper, T-levels and the rest of our revolutionary skills agenda, we have a huge amount of work to do and I am looking forward to getting on with the job. That means ensuring children, young people and their families continue to be supported – they have my full commitment.”

He said he looked forward to “engaging with our brilliant nurseries, social workers, schools, colleges, universities and all the staff working across these sectors to realise people’s potential – whatever their backgrounds or wherever they come from”.

The privately-educated MP got into a spat with the National Education Union in late 2018 and early 2019, calling on them to take down their “school cuts” website.

He challenged the claim that 91 per cent of schools face funding cuts and wrote to the UK Statistics Authority, who agreed the statistic was “misleading”. But the NEU stood by its figures, saying the funding crisis was “very real”.

Cleverly was first elected as a Conservative MP for Braintree in 2015. The role is his fifth since joining government in 2019, serving in the Department for Exiting in the EU and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

He had only been appointed minister of state for Europe and North America in the FCDO in early February.

He served as co-chairman of the Conservative party from 2019 to 2020.

It comes as Boris Johnson is expected to announce his resignation as Conservative party leader.

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