Johnson Tears Up Cabinet to Drive U.K. Out of EU: Brexit UpdateBy , , and
Johnson Tears Up Cabinet to Drive U.K. Out of EU: Brexit UpdateBy , , and
Boris Johnson promoted a succession of pro-Brexit allies to his cabinet, naming Dominic Raab foreign secretary and effective deputy prime minister, and appointing Sajid Javid as Britain’s new chancellor of the exchequer. The new prime minister is lining up a completely new team at the top of his government, with 18 ministers -- including the outgoing premier, Theresa May, leaving the cabinet.
- Jeremy Hunt, Greg Clark, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, James Brokenshire and Damian Hinds are out, joining Philip Hammond, Rory Stewart and David Gauke, who quit earlier
- Boris Johnson Has Put the Old Brexit Gang Back Together Again
Johnson brings Brother Jo Into His Cabinet (11 p.m.)
Johnson has also brought his brother, Jo Johnson – a remainer -- into the cabinet. Jo quit a job as a junior minister in the Department for Transport in November in protest against May’s deal, and has argued for a second referendum. He returns to a ministerial role straddling the departments of business and education, and will sit in cabinet. It looks like a return to the universities and science brief he held before moving to transport.
Jacob Rees-Mogg Gets His First Job in Government (10 p.m.)
Rees-Mogg, 50, is appointed as leader of the House of Commons, moving from the back to the front benches of the chamber. What does that entail? He will be responsible for planning and managing the government’s legislative program. It’s an important position and he would have a direct line to the chief whip, whose job it is to ensure members of Parliament vote with the government and do not go rogue. That’s been a problem for Theresa May for example in her three failed attempts to try and get her Brexit bill through.
A cult figure among Conservative Party members, Rees-Mogg, like Johnson, is an Old Etonian and he’s also a figurehead for the Tories’ staunchest Brexit backers. A father of six, he’s admitted to never changing a diaper and he wore suits as an undergraduate at Oxford University. He’s supported Johnson from the start and is devoted to the cause: he once posted a video on social media of him teaching his toddler his first word: Brexit.
Julian Smith Appointed Northern Ireland Secretary
Johnson appointed Julian Smith as Northern Ireland secretary, succeeding Karen Bradley. Formerly Theresa May’s chief whip in the House of Commons, Smith was a key figure behind-the-scenes in trying to build a majority in Parliament for May’s Brexit deal. Smith’s new role will involve addressing the sensitive issue of the Irish border as part of the Brexit negotiations.
Grant Shapps Appointed U.K. Transport Secretary (9:12 p.m.)
A former housing and international development minister, Shapps has worked closely with Johnson in recent weeks and helped on his leadership campaign. The 50-year-old stood down from his ministerial role in 2015 after claims he’d ignored allegations of bullying in the Conservative Party.
Shapps will be in charge of issues such as whether to expand Heathrow Airport and preparing Britain’s transport infrastructure for a potential no-deal Brexit. He replaces Chris Grayling.
Johnson to Make Statement to Parliament (8:55 p.m.)
The new premier will set out his priorities in a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, according to an official. On his first full day in charge, he’ll chair a meeting of his cabinet before making a statement and taking questions in Parliament later in the day.
The official said Johnson plans to complete his cabinet appointments on Wednesday evening, and will then name junior ministers on Thursday.
Amber Rudd Stays as U.K. Pensions Secretary (8:44 p.m.)
Boris Johnson keeps Rudd in her role. Formerly Home Secretary, Rudd was one of the most high-profile pro-EU members of Theresa May’s government, until she had to resign in 2018 over failures in immigration policy. She was brought back as Pensions Secretary, and revived her opposition to a no-deal Brexit. The 55-year-old has since cooled on that stance, saying she now accepts the option as part of the government’s negotiating strategy.
Andrea Leadsom Gets Business Secretary Post (8:30 p.m.)
An ardent advocate of Brexit, Leadsom made it to the final pair in the 2016 Tory leadership contest, before dropping out. In the 2019 battle, she was knocked out in the first round.
Leadsom served Theresa May as environment secretary and Leader of the House of Commons, delivering reforms in the latter role. She quit when May offered Parliament a chance to vote for a second Brexit referendum. The 56-year-old worked in financial services before entering politics. She replaces Greg Clarke.
Culture, Technology Job Goes to Nicky Morgan (8:27 p.m.)
Morgan becomes Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.
A former Education Secretary who was sacked by May in 2016, Morgan is currently the chair of Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee. Despite backing Remain, Morgan has recently worked on compromise efforts to get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons.
Gavin Williamson Becomes Education Secretary (8:24 p.m.)
It was a fast comeback for a man who was sacked as defence secretary less than three months ago.
Williamson has been a key member of Johnson’s team since leaving government, after an internal inquiry found he’d leaked sensitive information.
Before he moved to defence, he was an effective chief whip, who maintained the government’s relationship with its Democratic Unionist Party allies.
Villiers Is Named Environment Secretary (8:10 p.m.)
A former Northern Ireland secretary, 51-year-old Theresa Villiers campaigned for Britain to leave the EU. Part of her job will include helping farmers and the U.K.’s food industry prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit. She replaces Michael Gove.
10 Downing Street made the announcement, like the others, on Twitter.
Matt Hancock Is Named Health Secretary (8 p.m.)
Hancock stays on as Britain’s health secretary, 10 Downing Street said in a statement.
The 40-year-old, who ran for the Tory leadership but pulled out after slim support in the first round, first rose on the coat-tails of his old boss, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He supported Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Despite their differing approaches to Brexit, Hancock endorsed Johnson after quitting the leadership race, saying he was the best candidate to unite Britain.
Truss Gets International Trade Job (7:25 p.m.)
Liz Truss, who was chief secretary to the Treasury under Theresa May, has been appointed to Liam Fox’s old job as International Trade Secretary.
Tasked with readying the U.K. for new free-trade deals after Brexit, Truss is a Thatcherite who co-authored a 2012 book which claimed British workers are among the world’s most idle.
Some of her public appearances have attracted mockery, such as during a 2014 speech to the Conservative annual conference when she said: “We import two thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace.” Truss grew up in a left-wing household in Yorkshire, northern England, before rebelling and joining the Tories.
Johnson Appoints Ally-Turned-Rival Gove (7:10 p.m.)
Johnson appointed Michael Gove, the man who sabotaged his bid for the leadership in 2016, as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the job held by David Lidington under Theresa May.
The former journalist has a complicated relationship with Johnson. They worked together at the top of the Brexit referendum campaign, and Johnson appointed Gove to manage his first leadership bid. Gove then turned on Johnson and launched his own bid.
In this year’s contest, Gove supporters accused Johnson of getting his revenge by lending support to Jeremy Hunt to ensure that Gove was kept out of the final two. The 52-year-old has been Education Secretary, Justice Secretary, Chief Whip and Environment Secretary.
Stephen Barclay Stays as Brexit Secretary (7 p.m.)
In a piece of continuity with the old regime, Stephen Barclay will stay as Brexit Secretary, Downing Street said.
Barclay took up the position in November 2018, after his predecessors David Davis and Dominic Raab resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit approach.
Raab Is Foreign Secretary and Deputy PM (6:58 p.m.)
Johnson picked Dominic Raab -- the former Brexit secretary and leadership candidate -- to be Britain’s new foreign secretary and first secretary of state, making him Johnson’s effective deputy.
Knocked out in the second round of voting in the Conservative leadership election, Raab is a former Brexit secretary who resigned in protest at May’s draft deal to leave the EU. A prominent Brexit campaigner during the 2016 referendum, the 45-year-old is a karate black belt and trained as a lawyer.
Priti Patel Returns to Become Home Secretary (6:48 p.m.)
Johnson made his ally, the prominent Brexit backer Priti Patel Britain’s home secretary, in charge of policing and domestic security. It is a spectacular return to the front-line for Patel.
The 47-year-old had to resign as international development secretary in 2017 after it emerged that she’d held a series of off-the-record meetings with Israeli government officials during her summer vacation. Her role as home secretary will make her one of the most powerful Britons of Asian heritage.
Johnson Names Sajid Javid Chancellor (6:43 p.m.)
Johnson appointed the former home secretary Sajid Javid as his new Chancellor, succeeding Philip Hammond. A onetime managing director of Deutsche Bank AG, Javid will be tasked with managing the economy through Brexit.
The 49-year-old becomes the first ever ethnic minority minister to run the Treasury and the first since Norman Lamont in the early 1990s to have worked in the finance industry.
Ireland’s Varadkar Tells Johnson to Get Real (6:30 p.m.)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar delivered a blunt message to Boris Johnson: Get real.
In an interview with broadcaster RTE, he said “any suggestion a whole new deal can be negotiated in weeks or months is not in the real world.” European leaders have no plans to meet before October, Varadkar added.
“Confidence and enthusiasm is not a substitute for a European policy,” Varadkar said. He told the broadcaster that he’s confident the U.K. Parliament would block a no-deal Brexit -- an indication that Ireland feels little pressure to water down the contentious border backstop.
Mundell Joins The Backbench Awkward Squad (6:15 p.m.)
Sacked Scotland Secretary David Mundell made clear that he’s not going to go quietly after he was sacked by Johnson and will “hold him to account” from the backbenches.
Mundell’s tweet suggests he’s set to join former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and former Justice Secretary David Gauke in the backbench awkward squad of former ministers.
Hunt Says He’s Leaving Government (6 p.m.)
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has quit the government, saying Boris Johnson offered him a different role which he turned down.
“I would have been honored to carry on my work at the FCO but understand the need for a new PM to choose his team,” Hunt said on Twitter. “Now is the time to return to the backbenches from where PM will have my full support.”
Johnson Clears-Out May’s Ministers (5:35 p.m.)
Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle is shaping up to be a comprehensive clear-out of Theresa May’s most senior ministers as he prepares a radically new team to deliver on his election pledges.
Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and Education Secretary Damian Hinds have all announced their departures on Twitter. U.K. media also reported that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley are also out of the top team.
May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart all resigned earlier Wednesday before May had left office and before they could be sacked.
Clark and Fox out as Johnson Builds Cabinet (5:00 p.m.)
Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Business Secretary Greg Clark have both confirmed they’re leaving the cabinet, as Boris Johnson continues building his team of top ministers.
Johnson “is right to appoint a new team for a new premiership and I wish him and them well for the vital work ahead,” Clark tweeted.
Fox, for his part, tweeted that he’s “sadly” leaving the government. “I look forward to supporting @BorisJohnson and the government from the backbenches,” he wrote.
Defence Secretary Mordaunt Leaves Government (4:45 p.m.)
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt is leaving the government, she said in a posting on Twitter, without saying if she’d jumped or been pushed.
“I’m heading to the backbenches from where the PM will have my full support,” Mordaunt said. “Thank you to everyone who’s helped me get things done, especially our Armed Forces and civilians in defence for the last 85 days. We achieved much.”
A Royal Navy reservist and daughter of a paratrooper, Mordaunt was the first woman to serve as armed forces minister and entered the Cabinet as international development secretary last year. She was promoted to Defence Secretary in May.
Johnson Pledges Free Ports Amid Crime Warnings (4:10 p.m.)
Johnson said during his speech that he will create tax-free zones – also known as free ports – which were singled out as a potential money-laundering risk in a report published by the European Commission on Wednesday.
The ports were originally intended as a place to keep goods temporarily on EU soil, but have become popular as a place to store art and other valuables on a permanent basis, according to the study.
“This is something we have to focus more on,” Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told journalists earlier on Wednesday.
Johnson Promises to Get Ready for No-Deal (3:55 p.m.)
Turning to Brexit, Johnson promised “a new partnership with our European friends” but insisted he would get the country ready to leave the bloc without a deal in October if necessary.
Johnson repeated the guarantee of residency rights to three million EU citizens to give them “absolute certainty.”
“I am convinced we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border because we refuse under any circumstances to have such checks,” he said. “It is of course vital at the same time that we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal.”
Johnson Says Brexit Critics Are ‘Wrong’ (3:50 p.m.)
Boris Johnson promised to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 “no ifs or buts.” In a speech outside the prime minister’s Downing Street office, he said this would involve reaching “a new deal, a better deal” with the European Union.
“The doubters, the gloomsters, the doomsters are going to get it wrong again,” he said. “Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here.”
“I have every confidence that in 99 days we will have cracked it,” Johnson said. “We aren’t going to wait 99 days. The time has come to act. To take decisions. To give strong leadership and change this country for the better.”
Palace Makes Official Statement of Appointment (3:46 p.m.)
And it’s official. Shortly after Johnson left, Buckingham Palace released its statement:
“The Queen received in Audience The Right Honourable Boris Johnson MP this afternoon and requested him to form a new Administration. Mr Johnson accepted Her Majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.”
Boris Johnson Appointed Prime Minister (3:45 p.m.)
Johnson left Buckingham Palace after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and being asked to form a government. He is expected to make a speech when he returns to the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.
Boris Johnson Held Up by Protesters (3:08 p.m.)
A group of red-clad environmental protesters formed a human chain across the Mall, the road leading up to Buckingham Palace, to block Johnson’s motorcade as he approached his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
The activists were bundled away by police and Johnson went in for his meeting with the monarch, at which he will be appointed prime minister. Greenpeace later said in a statement that it was responsible for the protest, which was to draw attention to climate change.
May Formally resigns As Prime Minister (3:05 p.m.)
Buckingham Palace released a short statement confirming Theresa May’s resignation as prime minister:
“The Right Honourable Theresa May MP had an Audience of The Queen this afternoon and tendered her resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”
Now it’s Boris Johnson’s turn to meet the monarch.
May’s Parting Shot to Johnson (2:30 p.m.)
Theresa May’s final words contained what could be a hidden warning for her successor. Johnson must deliver Brexit, she said, “in a way that works for the whole U.K.”
Having rejected a no-deal Brexit herself, it’s clear May doesn’t think that would qualify. A light moment came when she was interrupted by a heckler yelling: “Stop Brexit!” May paused: “I think not.” Her husband Philip joked: “it wasn’t me.”
Elsewhere in her short speech, May offered her support to Johnson. “I wish the government he will lead every good fortune in the months and years ahead,” she said. “This is a country of great aspiration and opportunity and I hope every young girl who has seen a woman prime minister now knows for sure that there are no limits to what they can achieve.”
May Leaves Downing Street Office for Last Time (2:25 p.m.)
Theresa May called for a “national renewal” as she left her Downing Street office for the last time as prime minister.
She spoke to reporters before heading to Buckingham Palace to resign to Queen Elizabeth II. She said she would advise the monarch to appoint Boris Johnson as prime minister.
Lidington Says He’s Quitting Front Bench (2:15 p.m.)
David Lidington, Theresa May’s defacto deputy, said he will step back from frontline politics when the prime minister resigns to the Queen on Wednesday afternoon.
“After 20 yrs on the front bench it’s the right moment to move on,” Lidington said. “I shall do all I can to help new govt secure a deal to allow an orderly departure from the EU,” he said in a posting on Twitter.
In a line that may spell difficult for Johnson in the future he added: “I’m now relishing the prospect of speaking and campaigning freely.”
Stewart Adds to Cabinet Exodus (1:55 p.m.)
Rory Stewart, who was a surprise success in the votes among MPs as they whittled down the list of candidates for the Tory leadership, quit as international development secretary, joining Justice Secretary David Gauke and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in leaving before Boris Johnson announces his cabinet.
All three rejected Johnson’s call for a no-deal Brexit to be kept on the table in negotiations with the EU, saying that it would be catastrophic for the U.K. economy.
Gauke made his position clear in his resignation letter. “Given Boris’s stated policy of leaving the EU by 31 October at all costs, I am not willing to serve in his Government,” he wrote. “I believe I can most effectively make the case against a no deal Brexit from the backbenches.”
Labour Holding Fire on No-Confidence Vote (1:45 p.m.)
A Labour spokesman repeated the party’s position that it will call for a vote of no-confidence in the government when it sees the best chance of success, rejecting suggestions there won’t be enough time for such a step when Parliament returns from its summer vacation.
The spokesman added that Labour is in touch with rebel Conservative MPs to discuss ways of preventing a no-deal Brexit.
Hammond Quits as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1:30 p.m.)
Philip Hammond resigned as chancellor of the exchequer -- making good on his promise to do so before Boris Johnson becomes prime minister.
Hammond said he bequeaths his successor “genuine choices” once a Brexit deal is done, between increased public spending, reducing taxes, higher investment or faster debt reduction.
“After a decade when the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession meant we had no choices, this is a luxury which our successors should use wisely,” said Hammond, who has criticized Johnson’s spending plans during his leadership campaign.
Speculation sees Javid at Treasury, Raab FCO (12:45 p.m.)
Both the Times and ITV suggest that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will be appointed chancellor of the exchequer and former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab as foreign secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, without saying where they got the information.
The Times also suggests Environment Secretary Michael Gove may be appointed as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Johnson’s de facto deputy and Priti Patel as home secretary.
May Calls on Corbyn to Resign (12:15 p.m.)
Theresa May closed her final parliamentary exchanges with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with a call for him to resign, needling at his running disputes with his own members of Parliament.
“As a party leader who has accepted that her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same,” May said. Corbyn had earlier called for Boris Johnson to call a general election.
May ‘Pleased’ To Hand Over to Johnson (12:05 p.m.)
Theresa May said she is “pleased” to hand over to Boris Johnson when she resigns as prime minister on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m pleased to hand over to an incoming leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister who I worked with when he was in my cabinet and who is committed as a Conservative... to delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016 and delivering a brighter future for this country,” May told MPs in the House of Commons in her final session of prime minister’s questions.
May said she will continue as MP for Maidenhead after she resigns as prime minister and will back Johnson. “My successor will continue to deliver the Conservative policies that have improved the lives of people up and down this country,” May said. “I look forward from the backbenches to giving my full support.”
Who Are Boris Johnson’s New Advisers? (11:15 a.m.)
Edward Lister, known as Eddie, (see 10:30 a.m.) is described as “cool, calm and efficient” by Teresa O’Neill, who sat on the board of Homes England with him. As chief of staff to Johnson as London mayor, Lister was known as “Steady Eddie,” and was responsible for making structural changes to smooth operations.
By contrast, the mercurial Dominic Cummings does not mince his words. He described Brexit as a “train wreck” and said triggering Article 50 -- the divorce process with the EU -- too soon was like “putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger.”
The appointment of Cummings, who directed the Vote Leave referendum campaign, will be seen as a commitment to leave the EU by Oct 31. Even so, Cummings is a divisive figure, who was found in contempt of Parliament.
Cummings, Frost, Lister to Advise Johnson (10:30 a.m.)
Former Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings, Edward Lister and former diplomat David Frost will be joining Boris Johnson’s top team as senior advisers, according to two people familiar with his plans.
Frost, who worked with Johnson when he was foreign secretary, will be his adviser on the European Union, the people said. Lister was chief of staff to Johnson as mayor of London.
Johnson to Appoint Cummings as Adviser: BBC (9:40 a.m.)
Dominic Cummings, the director of Vote Leave during the 2016 Brexit referendum, is expected to become senior adviser to incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said in a tweet, without saying how she obtained the information.
Cummings, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a recent television drama, is known for his combative style, and was found in contempt of Parliament this year for refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions about targeted online advertising during the 2016 Brexit campaign.
He was previously an adviser to Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who along with Johnson, was the public face of the Vote Leave campaign.
While the appointment -- if confirmed -- would further bolster the pro-Brexit credentials of Johnson’s administration, it also risks a potential conflict with the Tory party’s anti-EU caucus. Cummings has called the European Research Group “useful idiots” for the Remain campaign to keep the U.K. in the EU.
Duncan Smith: ‘One Last Shot’ at Regaining Trust (9:20 a.m.)
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said Parliament and especially his party has “one last shot” at regaining the trust of voters by delivering Brexit by Oct. 31, warning that the Brexit Party is ready to take advantage if it doesn’t happen.
“The truth is that Nigel Farage is sitting in the wings with the Brexit Party, and I think they will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the U.K. not leaving on October 31st,” Duncan Smith told the BBC on Wednesday.
It’s a reminder of the difficulty Boris Johnson is likely to face as he tries to unite the Tories to deliver Brexit. Sticking to the Oct. 31 deadline to appease Brexiteers including Duncan Smith will further alienate prospective rebels on the pro-EU wing of the party.
Irish PM Set to Speak to Johnson in Coming Days (9 a.m.)
Irish European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee told RTE radio that Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his incoming British counterpart, Boris Johnson, are expected to speak by phone in the coming days. McEntee also said a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the U.K.
“I think the intention is for the Taoiseach to speak to him as soon as possible, whether that’s a phone call later today or tomorrow, or the next few days,” she said.
Hancock Rules Out Tory Electoral Pact With Farage (8:30 a.m.)
Cabinet minister Matt Hancock -- who is hoping to serve in Boris Johnson’s new administration -- ruled out an electoral pact with Nigel Farage, after the Brexit Party leader told Sky News there was a “possibility” of a deal.
“There is no way we are going to have any kind of electoral pact with the Brexit Party, with Nigel Farage,” Hancock told BBC radio. “I don’t want to see an early election, Boris doesn’t want to see an early election.”
The Conservatives currently have a single-figure governing majority that includes the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, and an election may be the only way to break the parliamentary stalemate over Brexit. In theory, the Brexit Party could agree not to run candidates in key Tory districts, as long as Johnson keeps his promise to leave the EU by Oct. 31.
“Theresa May told us 108 times we were leaving on March 29 and we didn’t, so just because Boris says we’re leaving on the 31st October doesn’t mean we’re going to,” Farage told Sky. “There is a possibility of an electoral pact but we would need to believe them, and at the moment that’s not very easy.”
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— With assistance by Thomas Penny, Dara Doyle, Peter Flanagan, Caroline Alexander, Alexander Weber, Kitty Donaldson, and Robert Hutton