New UK PM Boris Johnson wields axe as Hunt and detractors are forced out

New UK PM Boris Johnson wields axe as Hunt and detractors are forced out

Update 6.40pm: Boris Johnson swiftly began wielding the axe as British Prime Minister by sacking detractors and squeezing out leadership rival Jeremy Hunt.

The freshly-anointed PM started a major overhaul of Theresa May’s government, with more than half of her Cabinet either quitting or being sacked.

Mr Hunt was forced from his role as foreign secretary and his supporters were rounded on by the new Tory leader.

Mr Johnson sacked Liam Fox as international trade secretary and Penny Mordaunt as defence secretary, PA understands.

Both had backed Mr Hunt, while Dr Fox had gone a step further in criticising Mr Johnson’s Brexit plan.

Sajid Javid was appointed as Mr Johnson’s Chancellor, with Brexiteers Priti Patel and Dominic Raab returning to the Cabinet as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively. Meanwhile, Ben Wallace has been appointed Defence Secretary, Downing Street said.

Gavin Williamson has been appointed Education Secretary and Matt Hancock will remain as Health and Social Care Secretary.

  • Philip Hammond - resigned as chancellor in the last hours of Mrs May's premiership
  • Jeremy Hunt - Boris Johnson's former leadership rival announced he was returning to the backbenches after serving as foreign secretary
  • Penny Mordaunt - departs after a brief spell as defence secretary
  • Rory Stewart - leaves the international development department after already saying he would not serve under Mr Johnson
  • David Gauke - the ex-justice secretary made no secret of his disagreements with Mr Johnson
  • Damian Hinds - leaves the Department for Education
  • Chris Grayling - departs after a much-criticised spell as transport secretary
  • David Lidington - had been Mrs May's de facto deputy
  • James Brokenshire - the close ally of Mrs May had served most recently as housing secretary
  • Liam Fox - the Brexiteer has been removed as international trade secretary
  • David Mundell- the ex-Scottish secretary said he was not surprised to return to the backbenches
  • Karen Bradley - removed as Northern Ireland secretary
  • Greg Clark - his departure as business secretary was widely anticipated
  • Mel Stride - returning to the backbenches after the briefest of spells as Commons leader
  • Jeremy Wright - the culture secretary has also departed

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who previously said he would find it “extremely difficult” to serve Mr Johnson, tweeted that he was “disappointed but not surprised” to be departing.

Also leaving the frontbenches after Mr Johnson was formally appointed as PM by the Queen were Hunt-backer Damian Hinds, who was education secretary, and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Mr Clark had recently warned that “many thousands” of jobs would be lost in a no-deal Brexit, which Mr Johnson has declined to rule out.

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley is also understood to have been sacked after Mr Johnson entered No 10.

Foreshadowing his arrival, prominent no-deal critics chancellor Philip Hammond, international development secretary Rory Stewart and justice secretary David Gauke all quit.

So did David Lidington, who was effectively Theresa May’s deputy prime minister.

Mr Hunt said he would have been “honoured” to continue at the Foreign Office but decided to return to the backbenches despite Mr Johnson having “kindly offered” him a different role.

He was forced out despite saying he would happily welcome his opponent to his Cabinet during the leadership race.

Ms Mordaunt’s sacking so shortly after the Brexiteer became the first woman to head the Ministry of Defence came as a shock for many.

Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government James Brokenshire was also out, as was the much-criticised transport secretary Chris Grayling.

It is understood that Mr Grayling resigned.

Leader of the house Mel Stride was also returning to the backbenches, as was immigration minister Caroline Nokes.

- Press Association

Earlier: Jeremy Hunt latest to step down from UK Cabinet following Boris Johnson becoming PM

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is returning to the backbenches, he has announced.

His announcement follows a number of high-profile Cabinet resignations as Boris Johnson takes his place as the new British Prime Minister.

Philip Hammond quit as Chancellor, Rory Stewart resigned as International Development Secretary and David Gauke left his post as Justice Secretary in the hours before the Tory leader was to enter No 10 Downing Street.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley also announced that she has left the Government.

On Twitter, Mr Hunt said: "I would have been honoured to carry on my work at the FCO but understand the need for a new PM to choose his team. BJ kindly offered me another role but after 9 yrs in Cabinet & over 300 cab mtgs now is the time to return 2 backbenches from where PM will have my full support.

I’ve been a cabinet minister for every hour my 3 gorgeous children have been alive. So whilst it may seem strange for someone who just tried to become PM (& is a terrible cliche) I have decided now is the time for the biggest challenge of all – to be a GOOD DAD!

“It has been a huge honour 2 be responsible 4 the finest diplomatic service in the world & 2 see the courage & wisdom of our diplomats & intelligence services.

"Thanks 4 guiding me with such patience & professionalism! Proud to have stood up alongside you for British values."

He also thanked those who voted for him in Tuesday's Tory leadership election.

He said that despite the fact that he was an outsider in the race, he was "truly humbled" with the confidence that people placed in him.

New UK PM Boris Johnson wields axe as Hunt and detractors are forced out

Boris Johnson hit with trio of Cabinet resignations before becoming PM

Update 2.30pm: Boris Johnson’s entry into Downing Street was foreshadowed by a series of Cabinet resignations from high-profile Tory opponents of a no-deal Brexit.

Philip Hammond quit as Chancellor, Rory Stewart resigned as International Development Secretary and David Gauke left his post as Justice Secretary in the hours before the Tory leader was to enter No 10 as prime minister.

The apparently co-ordinated resignations from Government on Wednesday came after Theresa May gave her last Prime Minister’s Questions and as Mr Johnson was shaping up a Government to deliver Brexit.

No-deal opponent Philip Hammond quit the Cabinet (Aaron Chown/PA)
No-deal opponent Philip Hammond quit the Cabinet (Aaron Chown/PA)

The trio strongly oppose a no-deal Brexit and say they cannot support Mr Johnson’s commitment to take Britain out of the EU by the deadline of October 31 “do or die”.

Mr Hammond said the new PM should be “free to choose a chancellor who is fully aligned with his policy position” in his resignation letter.

And in a pointed message to Mr Johnson, he warned that the headroom built up in the public finances could only be used for tax cuts and spending boosts if a Brexit deal was secured.

Also standing down was the chief whip in the Lords, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, but a source said this was long-planned and not related to the “political situation”.

The moves came as Mr Johnson was moulding his Cabinet, with a return expected for Eurosceptic Priti Patel and an advisory role for Leave campaign mastermind Dominic Cummings.

The new Tory leader will take over the reins of power after Mrs May leaves No 10 for the final time on Wednesday to formally tender her resignation to the Queen.

But even before his summons to the Palace to form a government following his resounding victory in the Tory leadership race, Mr Johnson was beginning to shape his top team.

It will include a recall to the Cabinet for Ms Patel, an ardent Brexiteer who was forced by Mrs May to resign as international development secretary over unauthorised contacts with Israeli officials.

But uncertainty surrounds the future of Mr Johnson’s defeated leadership rival Jeremy Hunt after he reportedly turned down a demotion from Foreign Secretary to Defence Secretary.

Dominic Cummings is expected to be given an advisory role in Boris Johnson’s administration (House of Commons/PA)
Dominic Cummings is expected to be given an advisory role in Boris Johnson’s administration (House of Commons/PA)

One of the most eye-catching appointments expected to be made by Mr Johnson is a senior advisory role for Mr Cummings, the abrasive mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign.

Mr Cummings clashed with officials and politicians while he was an adviser to Michael Gove in the coalition government, but Mr Johnson clearly believes his forthright style will help steer Brexit through.

His appointment will be controversial given that earlier this year he was found to be in contempt of Parliament for refusing to give evidence to a committee of MPs investigating “fake news”.

He is also less than impressed with the calibre of Brexiteer MPs, describing a “narcissist-delusional subset” of the European Research Group (ERG) as a “metastasising tumour” that needed to be “excised”.

Mr Johnson will need the support of those same ERG hardliners for his Brexit plan.

Priti Patel is set for a return to Cabinet (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Priti Patel is set for a return to Cabinet (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms Patel has reportedly been lined up for the post of home secretary as allies said Mr Johnson was determined to create a “Cabinet for modern Britain”, with a record number of ethnic minority ministers and more women attending in their own right.

It is likely to mean a promotion for the Indian-born Employment Minister Alok Sharma, who is expected to take his place around the top table.

Unlike Ms Patel, he voted Remain in the 2016 referendum but was quick to declare his support for Mr Johnson when he threw his hat into ring following Mrs May’s decision to resign.

Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ following his victory in the leadership election (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ following his victory in the leadership election (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A source close to the Tory leader said: “Boris will build a Cabinet showcasing all the talents within the party that truly reflect modern Britain.”

Ahead of the resignations, Mr Gauke had said there were “a few ministers leaving government today” but “some of us hope to return … one day” in a social media post accompanied by a picture of him and Mr Stewart with artificially aged faces.

Another who may be on his way out is the Business Secretary Greg Clark, another opponent of a no-deal break.

However, Mr Johnson is likely to be faced by a gaggle of Brexiteer ministers who resigned from Mrs May’s government now jostling to get back in – including Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss were being touted as possible replacements for the key post of chancellor.

Mr Johnson has said he wants ministers who are prepared if necessary to leave the EU without a deal with Brussels.

But with a slender Commons majority for the Tories and their DUP allies of just two, he cannot afford for his government to be too narrowly-based.

Formal announcements are not expected until after Boris Johnson leaves the Palace following his audience with the Queen inviting him to form a government.

Ahead of the resignations, Mrs May used an ill-tempered set of exchanges in final Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons to call on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to also quit his post.

After Mr Corbyn accused her of a string of policy failures and U-turns, Mrs May told the opposition leader: “Perhaps I could just finish my exchange with him by saying this: As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same?”

Mrs May’s performance was watched from the gallery by her husband Philip.

The outgoing PM is giving a final statement in Downing Street before heading to Buckingham Palace to formally resign to the Queen.

On entering Number 10, Mr Johnson will also make an address to the nation – setting out his optimistic vision for the future for a post-Brexit UK.

Allies of Mr Johnson played down the prospect of an early election or a pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

- Press Association

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