UK surprise: PM May makes Boris Johnson foreign minister

14 Jul 2016


Former London Mayor Boris Johnson left home clutching his red box today hours after he was appointed Britain's new foreign secretary by Prime Minister Theresa May in a surprise development.

Prime Minister Theresa May appoints Brexiteer Boris Johnson the new foreign minister of Britain  

The new Prime Minister has made Johnson Britain's top diplomat and put him in charge of MI6, the foreign arm of the secret service, despite his outspoken views about other foreign leaders and a series of gaffes abroad.

Many slammed the appointment of the blond Brexiteer-in-chief to the UK's top diplomatic post, especially as Johnson turned on Barrack Obama after the US President slammed Brexiteers and said the UK would be ''at the back of the queue'' for a trade deal if Britons voted to leave the EU.

The Mayor of London then called the US President a 'part-Kenyan' who harboured an 'ancestral dislike' of Britain, last night refused to apologise and had another snipe at Obama saying he would be ''at the front of the queue'' for talks.

Last night Obama's spokesman for the State Department, Mark Toner, when told of Britain's new foreign secretary appointment said the United States would work closely with Johnson.

Johnson's extraordinary appointment came weeks after his campaign to be prime minister ended suddenly when he was 'knifed' by Michael Gove and was forced to drop out of the leadership race at the 11th hour (See: Boris Johnson out of UK PM race as Gove steps in).

On Wednesday May's first act as PM was to sack George Osborne and name Philip Hammond as her new Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Amber Rudd, 52, was appointed the new home secretary, a job made vacant after May left the department after a near-record six years in charge.

Her appointment came weeks after she blasted Boris Johnson in a TV debate and said, ''Boris is the life and soul of the party but he isn't the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.''

Long-time Eurosceptic Tory David Davis, 67, has been handed the big role of chief Brexit negotiator, a new Cabinet position.  Fellow Brexit campaigner Dr Liam Fox, 54, returned to the cabinet after four years of absence as he was named the Secretary of State for International Trade - another new post and a key role following Britain's vote to leave the EU.

Johnson's appointment to high office was earned despite a number of gaffes involving foreign countries.

Last November local officials called off a visit to Palestine on safety grounds after Johnson, then-London mayor, told an audience in Tel Aviv that a trade boycott of Israeli goods was ''completely crazy'' and supported by ''corduroy, jacketed, snaggletoothed, Lefty academics in the UK''.

Palestinian officials accused him of adopting a ''misinformed and disrespectful'' pro-Israel stance and said he risked creating protests if he visited the West Bank, although Johnson claimed his comments were ''very much whipped up'' on social media.

The month previously he had made a more light-hearted gaffe when he was filmed winning against a 10-year-old Japanese schoolboy during a game of street rugby on a visit to Tokyo.

Former Swedish Prime Minister and diplomat Carl Bildt tweeted the famous picture of Johnson marooned on a zip-wire after he got the job last night and said, ''I wish it was a joke, but I fear it isn't'''.

Brutal sackings
May's gamble came just after she  removed Osborne, bringing an abrupt end to his six years in charge of the Treasury. There were also reports that all of David Cameron's political advisors had left Downing Street - a sign May is determined to break with the past.

The early developments of May's first hours as PM are a clear sign of her attempts to unite the Conservative party after months of bitter infighting during the EU referendum campaign.

By bringing in several high profile figures from the right of the party, May has handed an olive branch to Brexit supporters who feared she would backtrack on leaving the EU having campaigned on the Remain side.

The pair will be in charge of the two new cabinet departments created by May. Eurosceptic David Davis has been appointed the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union while Dr Fox is in charge of the new International Trade department.

In other developments, Michael Fallon was re-appointed defence secretary, while May's close ally and leadership campaign manager Chris Grayling was yet to be handed a new job and remains as Leader of the Commons for now.

Hammond moved to the Treasury after serving as foreign secretary for more than two years. The father of three is expected to take residence in the flat above Number 11, where the Cameron family has been living for the last six years.

The Camerons swapped residencies with the Osbornes because of their larger family. But with May and her husband Philip having no children, the Hammonds are likely to take the bigger flat.

There were signs earlier this week that May would not include Osborne in her new government. She used a key speech on Monday to promise a major break from Cameron and Osborne's economic policy, promising to deliver ''serious social reform''.

But it nevertheless came as a big shock in Westminster that the man in charge of the economy for the last six years wasn't even offered a role in the new-look government.

Osborne left No 11 by the back door after being told he was surplus to requirements. His departure marks the culmination of a crashing comedown for a politician who was for many years favourite to take over from David Cameron.

The historic Brexit vote had wrecked his chances of getting the top job - but allies had still hoped he may be able to move into one of the other great offices of state.

However, the writing appeared to be on the wall after May first dropped his plans to tackle the deficit and then criticised his flagship austerity measures.

As his departure was confirmed, Osborne tweeted, ''It's been a privilege to be Chancellor these last 6 yrs. Others will judge - I hope I've left the economy in a better state than I found it.''

'Posh boys gone'
But Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries - who previously attacked Osborne and Cameron for being 'posh boys' who did not know the price of milk - delivered a brutal put-down.
''The posh boys have gone. It's over,'' she wrote on Twitter.

Setting out her stall as a 'one nation' Tory outside No 10 after being sworn in as the UK's new Prime Minister by the Queen during a short trip to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday evening, May pledged to battle ''social injustice'' and create a ''country that works for everyone''.

She said she was determined to listen ''not to the mighty'' but to the members of society who were struggling and disadvantaged.

Speaking outside No 10 this evening after being appointed Britain's second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher, May said, ''The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.

''We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we will think not of the powerful, but you.''

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