How many Cabinet ministers are there and what does it mean when an MP resigns?

We answer the questions of how many cabinet ministers are there and what does it mean when an MP resigns.

A photo of the new Cabinet holding a meeting, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the middle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak has been appointed as the UK's fifth Prime Minister in just over six years, which means another Cabinet reshuffle. Now, many are asking how many Cabinet ministers are there?

It's been a political rollercoaster over the last few months in the UK. After Boris Johnson resigned a Conservative leadership contest followed, but newly appointed Liz Truss lasted just 44 days before announcing her resignation.

With all the political turmoil, it's understandable that the public have a lot of questions about the people leading the country, with many wanting to know who is in the new Cabinet as well as what is Rishi Sunak's net worth and everything else there is to know about the new Prime Minister.  But some things will remain constant, and that's the number of MPs in the Cabinet and what happens when government members resign. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the hiring and firing process.

How many Cabinet ministers are there?

There are currently 31 ministers in the Cabinet. These members are chosen by the Prime Minister to be senior ministers in government, which means they lead specific policy areas such as health, education, foreign affairs and transport. 

For example, as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is the government's chief financial officer and therefore responsible for setting levels of taxation and public spending. He was recently responsible for reversing the majority of the tax measures that were made in a controversial mini budget announced by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

You might have heard the term 'reshuffle', which is used when the PM moves government ministers to different posts. This often involves dismissing some from the cabinet completely and bringing in new faces - although in Sunak's case only five of his appointees did not serve in either Liz Truss or Boris Johnson's Cabinet.

The new Cabinet a mix of Sunak supporters and Truss allies, which is thought to be a tactical move to unite the Conservative Party, which in recent weeks has fallen victim to infighting. Jeremy Hunt remains as Chancellor, which is broadly thought to be part of a decision to keep the markets stable.

Who is in the Cabinet?

  • Rishi Sunak - Prime Minister
  • Dominic Raab - Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
  • Jeremy Hunt - Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • James Cleverly - Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
  • Suella Braverman - Secretary of State for the Home Department
  • Steve Barclay - Health Secretary
  • Gillian Keegan - Education Secretary 
  • Ben Wallace - Secretary of State for Defence
  • Oliver Dowden - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Michael Gove - Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • Grant Shapps - Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Kemi Badenoch - Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
  • Mel Stride - Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
  • Therese Coffey - Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Mark Harper - Secretary of State for Transport
  • Chris Heaton Harris - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
  • Alister Jack - Secretary of State for Scotland
  • David T C Davies - Secretary of State for Wales
  • Michelle Donelan - Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Graham Stuart - Minister of State (Minister for Climate)
  • Lord True - Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Privy Seal
  • Penny Mordaunt - Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council
  • Victoria Prentis - Attorney General
  • Simon Hart - Chief Whip
  • Jeremy Quin - Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
  • Robert Jenrick - Minister for Immigration
  • Johnny Mercer - Minister for Veterans' Affairs
  • Gavin Williamson - Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
  • Andrew Mitchell - Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
  • Alok Sharma - COP26 President
  • Minister Without Portfolio - Nadhim Zahawi

What does minister without portfolio mean?

A minister without portfolio is an MP who is a member of Cabinet, but does not head a department or have a specific area of responsibility.

Their responsibilities are to contribute to the government’s policy and decision making processes.

What does it mean when an MP resigns?

When an MP resigns from government they become a backbencher. This means that they continue to serve in Parliament as an MP, but no longer have a role in the Government. They are called backbenchers because they sit on the back rows in the House of Commons.

The Government is in charge of running the country, which enables it to introduce policies such as the living support package and the council tax rebate, while Parliament's roles are to vote to pass laws - which are normally suggested by the Government - and question government decisions. MPs can question the Prime Minister by standing up at PMQs in the hopes of being chosen to speak.

How many Conservative MPs are there?

There are currently 357 Conservative MPs. The total number of MPs in Parliament is 650, giving the Tory party a  working majority of 71. After the most recent election, which took place in 2019, Boris Johnson's Conservative party won 364 seats. 

This large majority was helped by the party taking over many Labour strongholds, such as Blyth Valley in Northumberland, which until then had never elected a Conservative candidate in its 69-year history. 

However, in years since the Tories have lost a number of seats to other parties. In December 2021, the party lost North Shropshire to the Liberal Democrats, after Owen Paterson resigned due to breaching rules on lobbying. 

In June 2022, the Conservatives lost their seat in Wakefield to Labour and in Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats. These two losses resulted in the resignation of Conservative party chair, saying in his letter: "

Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.

"We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office."

Earlier in the year, the MP for Bury South Christian Wakeford defected to Labour, saying in a letter to then-PM Boris Johnson: "the policies of the Conservative government that you lead are doing nothing to help the people of my constituency and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse."

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.