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Brexit fallout: May drops Osborne, Boris Johnson new UK foreign secy

world Updated: Jul 14, 2016 10:53 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Theresa May

Newly appointed foreign secretary Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on July 13, 2016 after new British Prime Minister Theresa May took office. (AFP Photo)

Soon after taking over as prime minister on Wednesday, Theresa May named key members of her team that would lead Britain out of the European Union, dropping George Osborne as chancellor and appointing Boris Johnson as the foreign secretary.

Johnson was among three leading lights of the Brexit camp appointed to key posts; the other two were senior Conservative leader David Davis, named as the secretary for Exiting the European Union, and Liam Fox, secretary for international trade.

Former foreign secretary Philip Hammond was appointed the new chancellor, while former energy secretary was named the new home secretary. Michael Fallon retained his position as the defence secretary.

The David Cameron-Osborne combine that dominated Conservative politics for over a decade stood excluded in the new dispensation under May, clearing the way for the prime minister to put her own stamp on the party and the government.

Johnson as the foreign secretary surprised many, with opinion divided on whether he would be an asset or a liability for Britain on the international stage, given strong feelings against him in some European capitals.

But critics were quick to point out that Johnson may not have much to do, since the Foreign Office has been downsized over the years and through the new appointments: it is no longer in charge of international aid, nor of Brexit, nor of international trade.

The leading campaigner for Brexit, Johnson was tipped to be the prime minister, until his fellow Brexiter Michael Gove sabotaged his claim by announcing his own candidature in the prime ministerial contest triggered by Cameron’s resignation, which was finally won by May.

More appointments were scheduled to me made on Thursday.