Boris Johnson carries out 'summer massacre' as he announces new Cabinet

NEW Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paved the way for a stormy time ahead with a series of controversial sackings and appointments as he puts together his government.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 9:17 pm
Boris Johnson made his first speech as Prime Minister outside Number Ten.

He dismissed a swathe of ministers in a dramatic clear-out of the Cabinet.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, a Remainer and critic of Mr Johnson, was among those axed.

But so were firm Brexiteers like Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who had both backed Jeremy Hunt in the leadership contest.

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Mr Hunt was sacked as Foreign Secretary and offered another job but opted to return to the backbenches instead.

Well over half of Mrs May’s Cabinet were sacked or left.

Nigel Evans, secretary of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, described the clear-out as “a summer’s day massacre”.

Sajid Javid was appointed Chancellor, with his old job as Home Secretary going to Priti Patel, who was forced to quit as International Development Secretary in 2017 over secret meetings with the Israeli government.

And Dominic Raab, who served as Brexit Secretary for four months, is the new Foreign Secretary and also has the title First Secretary of State, making him effectively Mr Johnson’s deputy.

Alistair Jack, MP for Dumfries and Galloway since 2017, was named as the new Scottish Secretary.

Ben Wallace, a former MSP who served in the Scots Guards, has been made Defence Secretary.

Former leadership candidate Michael Gove was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, overseeing all areas of government policy.

Liz Truss was handed the job of International Trade Secretary and Andrea Leadsom was made Business Secretary while Matt Hancock is to stay as Health Secretary and Amber Rudd will remain at Work and Pensions.

Gavin Williamson, who was sacked as Defence Secretary in May over a leak from the National Security Council, which he denied, was made Education Secretary.

Earlier, Dominic Cummings, former head of the Vote Leave campaign, was named as a senior adviser to Mr Johnson. Mr Cummings is a controversial figure whose “robust” approach in the Brexit campaign was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in a Channel Four drama last year.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said Mr Johnson’s “highly cliquey” appointments looked like a Vote Leave takeover. “It doesn’t suggest the One Nation conservatism he says he espouses is continuing more than five minutes after he got to Downing Street.”

Mrs May’s de facto deputy David Lidington announced his resignation rather than wait to be fired. He joins Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart as influential figures who could become a problem for Mr Johnson on the backbenches.

In his first speech as Prime Minister in Downing Street, Mr Johnson repeated his commitment to take the UK out of the EU by October 31 and promised extra police on the streets, new hospital upgrades, reform of social care and action on road and rail infrastructure, broadband and animal welfare.

He also talked up the Union as the “awesome foursome who together are so much more than the sum of their parts”.

But a new opinion poll showed people in Scotland were easily the most negative about Mr Johnson’s premiership compared with other parts of the UK.

Just 15 per cent of Scots said they were pleased or delighted to see the former Mayor of London in Number Ten, while 54 per cent said they were dismayed and another six per cent disappointed,

The YouGov survey also found Scotland was much more in favour of an early general election, with 49 per cent saying he should call an immediate poll.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said it was clear Scots were reacting badly to having Boris Johnson foisted upon them as Prime Minister.

He added: “Little wonder – he’s pursuing an agenda which is against Scotland’s interests, which would drag us out of the EU against our will and cause serious damage to our economy.”

“Boris Johnson would wilfully make each and every one of us £2300 worse off overnight, and end our freedom to live, work, trade and travel across Europe.

“At the very least, Scotland deserves and clearly wants the opportunity to reject both Boris Johnson and a no-deal Brexit.”

There had been speculation that Mr Mundell would be kept as Scottish Secretary despite his differences with the new Prime Minister.

But Mr Mundell tweeted: “Disappointed but not surprised to be leaving the Scotland Office after nine years. Will, of course, support the new Government, but as I said to PM this afternoon I will also hold him to account on his commitments to the Union. Hope there’s still room on the backbenches.”

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray, former Shadow Scottish Secretary, said Mr Mundell had been a “tough and fair opponent” who had tried to rein in the extreme elements of his party and stood up for Scotland’s place in the UK around the Cabinet table.

“This confirms our worst fears that the new Prime Minister is building a hardline Brexiteer Cabinet and the Conservative and Unionist Party has given up on Unionism. We now have nationalist leaders in Downing Street and in Bute House at the very time we should be building bridges, not creating barriers.”