Rory Stewart replaces Penny Mordaunt as DfID secretary

2 May 19

Rory Stewart has been named as the new secretary of state at the Department for International Development.

Gavin Williamson. Credit: ©UK Parliament.A cabinet reshuffle was set in motion last night following the sacking of defence secretary Gavin Williamson [pictured right].

Prisons minister Stewart will take over from Penny Mordaunt who has been named as Williamson’s successor at the Ministry of Defence.

Stewart’s appointment marks his return to the department, having spent two years as the minister of sate for DFID between 2016 and 2018.

He said on Twitter that he was “delighted and honoured” to be named as the new DFID secretary.


In August 2018 Stewart vowed that he would resign from his post if the levels of drugs and violence in UK prisons did not fall under his leadership.

The charity Christian Aid called on Stewart to focus on climate issues as a priority.

Tom Viita, head of UK advocacy, said: “The first item on his to-do list must be the global climate emergency that is affecting the world’s poor form Mozambique to Myanmar.”

World Vision UK – a child poverty charity – called for Stewart to put child protection at the heart of the global aid programme.

Gavin Crowden, head of policy, advocacy and campaigns, said: “I fear that Penny Mordaunt, at times, lost sight of the real purpose of aid - to alleviate poverty and support the world’s most vulnerable children. Her legacy is one of forgotten children and lost opportunity. 

“Stewart must put UK aid back on track and ensure that it meets the needs of the most vulnerable children. Their lives hang in the balance.”

Mordaunt will become the UK’s first female defence secretary after Williamson was sacked due to his suspected involvement of a high profile leak.

A scathing letter from prime minister Theresa May accused Williamson of leaking details of a National Security Council meeting on April 23. The leak suggested that the government would allow Chinese telecoms company Huawei limited access to help build the UK’s 5G mobile network.

May’s letter said: “I have concluded that I can no longer have full confidence in you as secretary of state for defence and a minister in my cabinet.”

Williamson responded with his own letter in which he refuted the claims and declined the opportunity to resign.

“I appreciate you offering me the option to resign, but to resign would have been to accept that I, my civil servants, my military advisers or my staff were responsible: this was not the case,” he said.

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