UK health minister replaces Boris Johnson amid Brexit row
London, Jul 10 : Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to curb the growing turmoil around her leadership with the appointment of UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt as the new foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson.
Johnson, who dramatically stepped down earlier yesterday from his post soon after the resignation of Brexit minister David Davis, accused May of pursuing a “semi-Brexit” with proposals for post-Brexit trade that would leave Britain as a “colony” of the European Union (EU).
Taking charge of the Foreign Office, Hunt said he would be standing “four square” behind the Prime Minister “so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers”.
He added, “This is a time when the world is looking at us as a country, wondering what type of country we are going to be in a post-Brexit world.”
“What I want to say to them is Britain is going to be a dependable ally, a country that stands up for the values that matter to the people of this country, and will be a strong confident voice in the world.”
Hunt’s post of health secretary has been taken over by culture, media and sport secretary Matt Hancock, as May struggled to keep control of dissenting voices within her top team.
In her response to Johnson, May wrote that she was “sorry – and a little surprised” by his move after his apparent support on Friday, when ministers held talks at her country retreat of Chequers and emerged with a “collective” position on Brexit.
She said the deal agreed by the Cabinet after their “productive discussions” would “honour the result of the referendum” and allow the UK to “take back control of our borders, our law and our money”.
During a day packed with high-profile Cabinet departures, she also faced down her Conservative party’s powerful 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, amid rumours they were close to getting the 48 signatures needed to trigger a no-confidence vote that could have removed her as Prime Minister.
But so far she has stood firm in her resolve to hold on to her leadership and insists that she is confident of seeing through her proposals for a smooth exit from the EU.
Besides their senior colleagues, Brexit junior minister Steve Baker and two ministerial aides also resigned from the government yesterday.
UK Attorney General Jeremy Wright replaces Hancock as the new culture secretary, with backbencher Geoffrey Cox replacing him as the new Attorney General.