LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s incoming prime minister, Boris Johnson, starts appointing his government team on Wednesday, after weeks of planning and of jockeying among Conservative hopefuls looking for top jobs in his new cabinet.
FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson, leader of the Britain’s Conservative Party, leaves a private reception in central London, Britain July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Johnson, a figurehead for the campaign to leave the European Union in 2016, is expected to appoint a cabinet team “showcasing all the talents within the party that truly reflects modern Britain”, according to a source close to the new leader.
He is also expected to increase the number of women attending cabinet meetings and to appoint a record number of ethnic minority politicians, his team has said.
The appointments will offer a glimpse into Johnson’s plans for governing Britain after his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.
APPOINTMENTS SO FAR
Dominic Cummings – senior adviser
Cummings masterminded the official Vote Leave campaign in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum and is lauded by some Brexit campaigners for his successful strategy to convince voters to back leaving the EU in the face of a much better financed Remain campaign.
At the time of the referendum, a fellow campaigner said Cummings uses “Soviet propaganda techniques”.
He will act as a senior adviser to Johnson, an appointment which risks a backlash from some lawmakers who dislike his brusque manner and seeming disregard for parliament.
Andrew Griffith – business adviser
Griffith worked his way up through Sky under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership, becoming chief financial officer in 2008 and helping create Europe’s biggest pay-TV group.
A former parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives, Griffith lent Johnson his Westminster townhouse as a base to plot his first steps toward the premiership. He will be tasked with repairing relations with the corporate sector ahead of Brexit.
One colleague who worked with Griffith at Sky said he had an incredible intellect and an ability to “make stuff happen”.
Mark Spencer – Chief Whip
A little-known Conservative lawmaker, Spencer will be Johnson’s chief enforcer in parliament. This will be a crucial role given the Conservatives’ lack of majority in the House of Commons and the deep divisions among the party’s lawmakers over the right way forward on Brexit.
Spencer, who became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2010 after working for his family’s farm business, is well-liked by his colleagues and his appointment was praised by lawmakers from across the party’s factions.
Sajid Javid – finance minister
A former banker, Javid was a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank at the age of 25, going on to work at Deutsche Bank before he entered politics. Media have reported he is set to become finance minister.
The free market champion finished fourth in the Conservative leadership contest. Seen as a steady pair of hands, he is a minister who is described by several public servants who worked for him as decisive and clear.
Javid, 49, is a great admirer of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and has a portrait of the “Iron Lady” in his office. He backed remaining in the EU at the 2016 referendum.
He is the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents and his father was a bus driver.
Dominic Raab – foreign minister
A hardline euroskeptic who says he is relaxed about a no-deal Brexit, Raab resigned as Brexit minister in protest at May’s deal to leave the EU, saying the agreement would trap Britain in the bloc’s sphere.
Raab, a blackbelt in karate, ran for the leadership himself, taking aim at Johnson during the contest by saying: “We won’t get a good deal with bluff and bluster”.
He is the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938 and was an international lawyer before entering politics. Media have reported Raab is being lined up to be foreign minister.
Michael Gove – de facto deputy prime minister
A friend of Johnson’s since university, Gove was said to have convinced him to campaign for Brexit with the pair playing leading roles in the official ‘Leave’ campaign.
Gove was blamed for ending Johnson’s 2016 bid for the party’s leadership. Johnson pulled out of the race after Gove abruptly withdrew his support on the day Johnson was due to launch his campaign, instead declaring he would run himself.
Born to a young unmarried student in Edinburgh, Gove was adopted by a working-class couple in Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland when he was just four months old.
His adoptive father ran a fishing business which he sold as the sector began to decline, something Gove has since blamed on the EU’s fisheries policies.
Gove has a reputation as a radical reformer and has been tipped to become Johnson’s de facto deputy.
Priti Patel – interior minister
Patel campaigned to leave the EU and has been an outspoken critic of outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit. She voted against May’s Brexit deal on each occasion it was put before parliament.
Johnson’s team have said she is due to be given a senior ministerial job, with media reporting she is tipped to be interior minister.
Patel’s appointment would mark a political comeback after she was forced to resign as International Development minister in November 2017 over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials that breached diplomatic protocol.
Born to Indian parents, Patel launched an appeal to “Save the British Curry” during the referendum campaign which argued that a post-Brexit immigration system would be fairer to those from outside the EU and ease a shortage of chefs for Indian restaurants in Britain.
Sharma is a junior minister in the Department of Work and Pensions and previously worked under Johnson in the foreign office. An accountant by training, he worked in banking for 16 years before entering parliament.
As housing minister he handled the aftermath of a fire in Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in west London, in June 2017 which killed 71 people, and was heckled by survivors at a televised meeting at which he offered them temporary rather than permanent homes in the local area.
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan and William James; editing by Stephen Addison