David Cameron is hosting his first Cabinet meeting. The newly re-elected British prime minister is finalizing who will serve in his government after securing the first Conservative majority in nearly 20 years.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he planned to tell the first meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday that the Conservative Party is the "real party of working people."
The Conservatives won an unexpected outright majority in the May 7 election, claiming 331 of 650 seats in the House of Commons - a clear mandate for the next five years.
Most of the top jobs in the leadership team have remained unchanged, but Cameron was still finalizing a series of junior appointments on Tuesday.
Earlier, Michael Gove was named the new Justice Secretary, while Greg Hands, a former banker, was named Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Sajid Javid was given the role of new Business Secretary, and Amber Rudd was named Energy and Climate Secretary. Theresa May will retain her portfolio for the interior, as will Michael Fallow in matters defense.
Early EU referendum in 2016?
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Cameron's de facto second-in-command, and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond will continue negotiating Britain's relationship with the European Union ahead of a planned referendum on the whether the country should stay with the 28-member bloc by 2017.
There was speculation in some British newspapers on Tuesday that Cameron could bring forward the referendum on EU membership to next year, 2016, instead. Citing officials, reports said holding the vote sooner could limit uncertainty and avoid clashes with general elections scheduled in Germany and France.
Osborne, who was meeting fellow EU finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, did not address the reports. He did, however, say that his Conservative Party had "a very clear mandate to improve Britain's relationship with the rest of the EU and to reform the EU so it creates jobs and increases living standards for all its citizens."
Old and new
Nigel Farage on Monday said he would be staying on as leader of the right-wing Euroskeptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), despite losing his seat in last week's election. The party's National Executive Committee rejected his resignation on Monday, saying members wanted him to stay on.
UKIP only garnered one seat in the House of Commons, but won almost 4 million votes. The party's surge in popularity in the past few years has put pressure on Cameron to veer to the right on immigration and Britain's relationship with the EU. Farage, a member of the European Parliament, said he plans to start campaigning for Britain to leave the bloc ahead of the planned referendum.
Poor election performances prompted the leaders of both the Liberal Democrats and the main opposition Labour party to step down.
nm/msh (Reuters, AFP)