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British PM names euroskeptic Hammond as foreign secretary

British Prime Minister David Cameron has named former defense secretary and arch-euroskeptic Philip Hammond as his new foreign secretary. The appointment comes as part of a major cabinet reshuffle.

Hammond, who was formerly defense secretary, was appointed foreign secretary on Tuesday following Monday's surprise resignation of William Hague.

The 58-year-old politician is known for his euroskeptic views, and supports Britain leaving the European Union unless the EU relinquishes some legislative power to London.

Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on Britain departing from the EU fold in 2017 if he is re-elected as prime minister. General elections are scheduled for next year.

Political commentator James Forsyth, writing in a blog posting for the Spectator magazine about Hammond's appointment, said "the fact that someone who has said that they'd vote to leave if substantial powers were not returned to the UK in the renegotiation is now Foreign Secretary sends a clear message to the rest of the EU about the British position."

The opposition Labour Party criticized the appointment for precisely this reason, with shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher saying that Cameron was "running scared of his own right wing."

In further changes to the cabinet as part of a thorough reshuffle, Cameron made former junior minister Michael Fallon the new Defense Secretary, while controversial Education Secretary Michael Gove becomes Chief Whip and thus responsible for party discipline and behavior on the floor of the house.

Other changes are likely to see the Cabinet become younger and with more women.

tj/msh (AFP, AP)