Nearly two-thirds of prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet were privately educated, according to research.
The proportion of ministers who went to independent schools is twice as high as Theresa May’s 2016 cabinet, at 64% compared to 30% according to the social mobility charity Sutton Trust. In David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet, the rate was 50%.
The figures mean that ministers in the prime minister’s cabinet are nine times more likely to have attended a fee-paying school for all or part of their secondary education than the general population, of which only 7% went to private schools.
The chancellor, Sajid Javid, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, are among the ministers who went to state schools.
Among those who attended fee-paying schools are the Brexit minister, Stephen Barclay, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, who went to Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
Of the 33 ministers who make up Johnson’s new cabinet, 45% went to either Oxford or Cambridge university, while a further 24% attended Russell Group universities. Of all MPs in the House of Commons, 24% attended Oxford or Cambridge.
Johnsonwent to Eton college, and like every prime minister since 1937 who had attended university, except Gordon Brown, studied at Oxford.
Past cabinets have been more privately educated than Johnson’s though – the proportion in John Major’s 1992 cabinet was 71%, while 91% of Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 cabinet had been to a fee-paying school.
Last month, a report from the charity found that 29% of current MPs came from private schools. Just under half (45%) of the Conservative party MPs were privately educated, compared with 15% of the Labour party.
The Sutton Trust founder and chairman, Sir Peter Lampl, said: “Social mobility – the potential for those to achieve success regardless of their background – remains low.
“Addressing this must be at the heart of our new prime minister’s tenure in Downing Street.
“The make-up of Johnson’s cabinet underlines once again how unevenly spread the opportunities are to enter the elites.”
On Wednesday, Johnson conducted a brutal cull of Theresa May’s cabinet hours after officially becoming prime minister, sacking more than half of May’s ministers and packing the team with Vote Leave veterans and rightwing free marketers.
Though Johnson’s ethnically-diverse cabinet has been described as “a cabinet to represent modern Britain”, questions have been raised over whether it is truly representative of the nation.
The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said Johnson was running a government “of the few, by the few, for the few”.
“It’s no surprise that the Tories have failed to honour their pledge to rethink the tax loopholes that benefit private schools, and Johnson instead plans yet another giveaway for the super rich instead,” the Labour MP said.
• This article was amended on 26 July 2019. An earlier version said that every prime minister since 1937, except Gordon Brown, studied at Oxford. That meant to say every prime minister since 1937 who had attended university, except Brown, studied at Oxford. This has been corrected.
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