Theresa May has lost no time in appointing her new team since being confirmed as the UK’s new prime minister.
In a surprise announcement – and certainly the most eye-catching – the leading pro-Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson was named as Foreign Secretary.
Having quickly fallen out of the race to be prime minister following the referendum vote to leave the European Union, the appointment promises a high-profile role on the world stage for the man who vowed repeatedly that Britain would “take back control” outside the EU.
Johnson – the former mayor of London – is however not necessarily known for his diplomatic skills, and his every move will be closely watched. At least one of his supporters has pointed out that as London’s figurehead, he travelled the world in search of inward investment into the British capital.
The previous foreign secretary Philip Hammond – who wanted Britain to remain in the EU – has been granted the job he wanted, as finance minister.
He will replace George Osborne, another Remainer, who is leaving the government. His warnings about Brexit’s consequences on the economy led many ‘Leave’ campaigners to accuse him of scaremongering.
Good luck to new Prime Minister— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) July 13, 2016
theresa_may</a> & Chancellor <a href="https://twitter.com/PHammondMP">PHammondMP – they have my full support in the big challenge that lies ahead
The detailed and complex task of negotiating the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU could be beyond Johnson’s remit, with the creation of a new government department responsible for ‘Brexit’.
The man appointed to take charge is David Davis, who becomes Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. The 67-year-old is a strong supporter of Brexit who has said Britain should take its time before formally starting the divorce process by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
A senior Conservative politician, he was beaten by former prime minister David Cameron in the party’s 2005 leadership election contest.
Another key role has gone to another ‘Brexiteer’: Liam Fox has been named responsible for international trade, and will be in charge of forging new deals following the EU vote. The 54-year-old is an ex-defence and foreign office minister.
The new Home Secretary (interior minister) is Amber Rudd, who was a high-profile supporter of remaining inside the European Union. Her appointment reflects a desire by Theresa May to maintain some balance between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ supporters who were so bitterly opposed to each other during the referendum campaign.
The former energy secretary will play a key role in the country’s approach to immigration, the issue which is widely believed to have swayed many people to vote ‘Leave’. The 52-year-old has only been an MP for six years and has risen rapidly up the ranks.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the new cabinet is the appointment of leading supporters of the UK’s departure from the EU to key roles in making Brexit happen.