Theresa May started her first full day in office as UK’s new Prime Minister today with a series of sackings after surprising many by naming “Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson as foreign minister against the backdrop of putting Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) in motion.
May, 59, is unlikely to have had much sleep on her first night in Downing Street as after she had unveiled some of the main Cabinet posts it was time to take calls from European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“On all the phone calls, the Prime Minister emphasised her commitment to delivering the will of the British people to leave the EU. The Prime Minister explained that we would need some time to prepare for these negotiations and spoke of her hope that these could be conducted in a constructive and positive spirit,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who had challenged May in the Conservative Party leadership race, was among the first sackings announced today. He was replaced by Liz Truss, a former environment minister and one of the many female faces expected to occupy May’s team.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin were other aides of former prime minister David Cameron dropped from the frontline and pushed to the party’s backbenches.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, at the centre of the ongoing crisis and strikes by junior doctors over new controversial contracts, is expected to be shunted out to a different role.
In a clear indication that she intends to carve out a new path in government, May announced her first big shake-up just minutes after entering Downing Street last evening by replacing George Osborne as UK Chancellor with Philip Hammond.
Former energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd has been promoted in May’s new Cabinet as Home Secretary, the portfolio previously held by May herself, with Eurosceptic David Davis being made in charge of a new department for Exiting the European Union and being dubbed “Brexit minister”.
While Michael Fallon marked the only status quo Cabinet move by retaining the defence secretary’s job, the biggest surprise came in former London mayor Boris Johnson, who was appointed the new foreign secretary.
The star Brexit campaigner said he was “humbled” having been named the new foreign minister and is expected to work closely with India in his role that covers the Commonwealth countries, alongside newly-appointed international trade minister Liam Fox.