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May to hand in resignation as Johnson forms new Cabinet

There is much speculation as to who is in and who is out of the front bench.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson
Theresa May and Boris Johnson
Image: PA/PA Wire/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON IS set to become the British prime minister today, having been announced as the new Conservative Party leader yesterday.

Johnson was elected by 92,153 votes to 46,656, securing support from 66.4% of the party members who voted.

Theresa May will take part in her final Prime Minister’s Questions at midday, before meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace at 3pm to hand in her resignation.

Shortly afterwards, at about 3.30pm, Johnson is expected to meet the queen, who will ask him to form a new government. After being sworn in he is expected to return to Number 10 Downing Street and make a speech.

Johnson will then start forming his new Cabinet, with much speculation as to who is in and who is out. 

Senior sources have reportedly told Sky News the Cabinet will be made up of “two-thirds Brexiteers and one-third Remainers“.

The future role of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the man whom Johnson saw off in the Tory leadership contest, is uncertain. 

One person who we know is definitely out is Philip Hammond – the chancellor said he would resign if Johnson was elected. Hammond said he could not serve in a government that may pursue a no-deal Brexit.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid (who ran in the Tory leadership race), former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Liz Truss, Hammond’s current deputy at the Treasury, are in the running to replace him, according to BBC News.

The Times is reporting that Brexiter Priti Patel will become Home Secretary less than two years after she was forced to resign as International Development Secretary over unauthorised contact with Israeli officials.

Other ministers have previously signalled their intention to also stand aside – also citing concerns about Johnson and a no-deal Brexit – including Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart (he too unsuccessfully contested the leadership race).

Education Minister Anne Milton resigned shortly before Johnson’s win was announced yesterday.

Brexit strategy 

Johnson is due to make a statement to the British parliament about his Brexit strategy tomorrow and take questions from MPs. Parliament will then begin its six-week summer recess. 

Johnson is expected to attend the G7 summit in Biarritz in France from 25-27 August. He is also due to attend a European Union summit on 17 and 18 October if Britain is still in the bloc at that stage. 

Given the looming Brexit deadline of 31 October, which he has promised to meet, Johnson is not expected to enjoy a honeymoon period. 

Last week, MPs in Westminster backed a bid to stop the future prime minister from suspending parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit. On Thursday 315 MPs voted in favour of the amendment, while 274 voted against it. 

Backstop 

The Conservatives do not have a majority in the House of Commons, but govern through an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party.

May announced her resignation after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament, faced with opposition from both Conservative MPs and the DUP.

Many politicians have raised concerns about the backstop element of the Withdrawal Agreement, which aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules.

The DUP, which campaigned in favour of Brexit, believes the backstop threatens the UK and could lead to a trade border in the Irish Sea.

Barring a third postponement or an earlier departure, Britain is due to leave the EU on 31 October. Plans are being made at British, Irish and European level in the event of a no-deal scenario, which seems increasingly likely.

At the weekend, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said a no-deal Brexit “will be a disaster for us all” and “devastate the Northern Irish economy”. 

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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