- Philip Hammond replaces Osborne as chancellor of the exchequer
- Brexit campaigners Johnson and Davis get international jobs
Prime Minister Theresa May handed responsibility for extricating Britain from the European Union to those who campaigned to leave, appointing Boris Johnson as foreign secretary and David Davis as Brexit chief. Philip Hammond replaces George Osborne as chancellor of the exchequer, tasked with making Britain “a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.”
These are the people who got the top jobs:
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Philip Hammond
Hammond, 60, served in David Cameron’s cabinet since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010, first as transport secretary, then in charge of defense, and for the past two years as foreign secretary. In a speech this week to bankers, he said he’d fight to maintain access to the single market and said he’d work with the City to get the best deal.
In the mold of Alistair Darling in the previous Labour administration, he has a reputation for being reassuringly dull and is known sarcastically by broadcasters as “box office Phil” because his interviews rarely yield stories. Hammond has a background in business, working in property, construction and oil and gas.
He has experience of negotiating with EU counterparts from his time in the foreign office and will need to work closely with Brexit czar Davis. Like May, he’s viewed as a Euroskeptic who ultimately decided to campaign for “Remain” in the referendum.
Before the 2010 election, he had been due to become chief secretary to the Treasury, the number two job in the department, but that was scotched when the Conservatives failed to win an outright majority.
Foreign Secretary: Boris Johnson
Most famous for his appearances on a comedy TV show before becoming London mayor in 2008, Johnson’s popularity with rank-and-file Conservatives is cemented every year with his performances as the star turn at the party’s annual conference.
Johnson, 52, more than anyone shaped British cynicism toward the EU during the 1990s through his work as a reporter in Brussels for the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Writing stories about bureaucracy and petty regulations, some of which he cheerfully admitted stretched credibility.
He returned to the House of Commons last year as he neared the end of eight years as mayor and was a leading cheerleader for Brexit during the referendum campaign. He dramatically withdrew from the race to be prime minister after losing the backing of his fellow chief Brexiter, Michael Gove.
As a child he wanted to be “World King,” but his forays into international relations have not always been successful. Despite having Turkish heritage, he stoked fears of Turkey joining the EU during the referendum campaign and said the EU’s attempt to unite Europe was following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler.
Brexit Secretary: David Davis
A Euroskeptic who’s been away from frontline politics since 2008, Davis has served as a minister of state for Europe and Conservative Party chairman.
In an article for the Conservative Home website this week, Davis said “Brexit gives us many tools to deal with the very serious economic challenges that the country will face in the coming decades.” He said Brexit will “deliver the circumstances that allow us to pursue an unfettered high growth strategy.”
Once seen as a future leader, he lost out to David Cameron in the race for the top job in 2005. He’s represented the Conservatives in opposition for home affairs, covering issues such as national security, prisons and immigration. In 2008, he unexpectedly resigned as a lawmaker in order to force a special election over what he said was an erosion of civil liberties. He won that election but has remained away from the spotlight ever since.
Home Secretary: Amber Rudd
Rudd, 52, was Cameron’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary and came to national prominence during the referendum campaign when, as representative of the “Remain” camp in a TV debate, she made a forceful attack on Johnson in which she claimed he was only campaigning to leave because he wanted to be premier.
“He is the life and soul of the party,” she said. “But he is not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.”
They will now be Cabinet colleagues.
As energy secretary she represented Britain at climate change talks, gaining experience of international horse-trading that will prepare her for negotiations she will have on immigration. Before becoming a lawmaker, she worked in investment banking for JPMorgan and then in venture capital. She’s also been an aide to former Chancellor George Osborne.
Her life before politics also included spells running a head-hunting firm and as a financial journalist. She also worked in the crew as “aristocracy co-ordinator” for the 1994 British hit movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring Hugh Grant. Her brother, Roland Rudd, is co-founder of public-relations firm Finsbury.