Majority of Rishi Sunak’s new cabinet went to private school

Rishi Sunak and members of his (mostly privately-educated) cabinet. Credit: PA

The majority of Rishi Sunak's new Cabinet are privately educated, with 65% of his top-tier team having gone to an independent school.

That's over nine times the number in the general population, new analysis has shown.

Mr Sunak himself was educated at the £45,936-a-year Winchester College.

Three of the top jobs have all gone to people educated at fee-paying schools, including; Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse School in Surrey), Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (Colfe’s School in Greenwich, south-east London), and Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Heathfield School in Pinner, north-west London).

The makeup of the new prime minister's cabinet has been highlighted in data from social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust, amid the cost of living crisis.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust said the analysis highlights how "unevenly spread opportunities" for the most prestigious positions continue to be.

Of Mr Sunak's new frontbench, 45% went to Oxbridge, among them the prime minister, more than double the average for all MPs.

Mr Sunak continues the tradition of nearly every UK prime minister since the Second World War having studied at Oxford University.

Gordon Brown, who went to Edinburgh University, was one exception.

Both Winston Churchill and John Major didn't attend university at all.

Education Secretary and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan Credit: PA

Mr Sunak's cabinet is marginally more representative than his predecessor Liz Truss’ which was made up of 68% of people who had attended a fee paying school.

A total 64% of Boris Johnson’s first cabinet was filled by ex-independent school pupils.

Meanwhile, only 30% of those who sat around Theresa May’s 2016 cabinet table were privately educated.

Half of David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet had been to an independent school, but the number was lower in Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown’s cabinets (both 32%), although Mr Sunak's cabinet of former private school pupils is close to the 62% in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010.

ITV News North of England Reporter, Kelly Foran, met people struggling with the cost of living in Chester who gave their views on the latest political reshuffle

The analysis shows nearly a quarter (23%) of Mr Sunak’s Cabinet went to a comprehensive school while one in 10 attended a grammar school.

Among those who went to a comprehensive are leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt, Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.

Sir Peter said: “Rishi Sunak faces unprecedented challenges as he enters Number 10.

“In his new Cabinet, 65% went to private schools – over nine times the number in the general population – and 45% went to Oxbridge, more than double the average for all MPs.

He added: “Making the most of Britain’s talent, regardless of background, must be a priority.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was "disappointing" that so many of the Cabinet had been privately educated.

“We have nothing against private education – and represent independent school leaders – but it is important that our political leaders come from socially diverse backgrounds and understand the needs and life experiences of the public," he said.

He said the union was pleased at the appointment of state school-educated Ms Keegan as education secretary.

The new Cabinet Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The prime minister’s press secretary said in a statement: “The newly appointed education secretary, for example, went to a comprehensive school, benefited from an apprenticeship scheme.”

Mr Sunak removed 11 members of Ms Truss’s top team on Tuesday as he put together a cabinet that he said “reflects a united party”.

But only a quarter of those appointed to sit around the cabinet table – about 23% – will be women, down from nearly a third at the start of Ms Truss’s premiership.

Under Boris Johnson's time at Number 10, 24% of the cabinet were women, while 30% of Theresa May's top tier were female.

The proportion of women in Tony Blair's 2006-07 was 36% - the highest number ever.

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