UK′s Boris Johnson fills Cabinet with close allies | News | DW | 24.07.2019
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UK's Boris Johnson fills Cabinet with close allies

Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed several key supporters to top jobs as he makes plans to take the UK out of the EU by October 31. Several ministers stood down before they could be pushed.

The UK's new prime minister made sweeping changes at the top of government on Wednesday, filling key posts with supporters who campaigned for him to take over the top role.

Boris Johnson's new Cabinet has a strongly pro-Brexit flavor, with the major cabinet posts going to those who have backed his plan to take Britain out of the European Union by October 31 with or without a withdrawal deal.

Read more: Boris Johnson's 5 most urgent tasks as UK prime minister

Former Brexit chief negotiator Dominic Raab, who resigned from Theresa May's government in opposition to the divorce agreement struck with Brussels, was given the role of foreign secretary.

Raab takes over from Jeremy Hunt, who was Johnson's opponent in the final round of the race to lead Britain's ruling Conservative Party. 

Raab, who was initially among the contenders to replace Theresa May, also takes on the mantle of first secretary of state, meaning he will deputize for Johnson when the prime minister is absent.

Returning at the top

Priti Patel, an arch-Brexiter and former international development minister, returns to government as home secretary — the title given to the UK's interior minister. Patel, who was fired by May for having secret meetings with the Israeli government, was a staunch opponent of the former prime minister's withdrawal deal.

Patel takes over the role from Sajid Javid, who moves into another of the UK's Great Offices of State. Javid, a former investment banker, takes on the mantle of chancellor of the Exchequer.

Read more: Who is Boris Johnson, Britain's next prime minister?

That role, the UK's finance minister, was vacated by Philip Hammond who said he would not countenance working with Johnson.

May's Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and May's de-facto deputy, David Lidington, also resigned after Johnson took charge. Gauke and Stewart both said they would rather leave than sanction a no-deal scenario, while Lidington said it was "the right time to go."

Prominent members of the "Back Boris" leadership campaign Liz Truss and Gavin Williamson both returned to government, with the portfolios for trade and education respectively.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd were among the few ministers who backed Remain — to stay in the EU — in the 2016 referendum who have kept their jobs.

The Vote Leave alumni

Two of the most notable jobs on the sidelines went to key allies of Johnson as members of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was moved to the Cabinet Office, where he will be close to negotiations in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. The fact that Gove retains a place in cabinet was seen as surprising by some, given that he was responsible for derailing Johnson’s post-referendum leadership bid in 2016, before standing for the leadership himself.

Johnson is also due to appoint former Vote Leave strategist Dominic Cummings as one of his senior advisers. Cummings is widely seen as the man who helped deliver the 52-48 percent vote in favor of leaving the EU.

The job announcements followed May's departure from office, which saw her give a speech in Downing Street, and Johnson's appointment by Queen Elizabeth II. On the way to the palace, the incoming prime minister's motorcade was briefly delayed by climate change protesters.

Upon leaving the palace, Johnson gave a speech in which he repeated his promise to deliver Brexit by October 31. The new premier optimistically pledged to get "a new deal, a better deal" with the EU than the one secured by May, which was rejected by the UK parliament on three separate occasions.

rc/se (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

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