Johnson shakes up govt
AP, London :
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shook up his government on Thursday, firing and appointing ministers to key Cabinet posts.
Johnson was aiming to tighten his grip on government after winning a big parliamentary majority in December's election. That victory allowed Johnson to take Britain out of the European Union last month, delivering on his key election promise.
Now his Conservative administration faces the even bigger challenge of negotiating a new relationship with the 27-nation EU by the end of this year. The two sides are aiming to have a deal covering trade, security and other areas in place by the time a post-Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.
So far, the two sides are far apart in their demands. And even with a deal, the U.K. faces a huge adjustment when decades of seamless trade and travel with the EU end at the start of 2021.
Johnson began his Cabinet shuffle by firing Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith - a surprise move. Smith had been widely praised for helping to end political deadlock that left Northern Ireland without a regional government and assembly for three years. After pressure from the British and Irish governments, the main Irish nationalist and British unionist power-sharing parties returned to work last month.
As well as shuffling his Cabinet, Johnson needs to appoint a new leader for the U.N. climate change conference that Britain is due to host later this year. The summit, known as the 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP26, is scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.
Planning has got off to a rocky start, with Johnson last week firing Claire O'Neill, a former British government minister appointed last year to head up the event.
Boris Johnson fired a clutch of senior ministers including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom-a former rival for the Conservative party leadership-in a dramatic cabinet cull on Thursday. After winning a big majority in December's election, the British prime minister is stamping his authority on his top team to bring in new blood and prepare the U.K. for life after Brexit.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, and housing minister Esther McVey have also confirmed their dismissals.:
Johnson believed to have finished firing ministers in his office in Parliament. He will now start hiring replacements from 10 Downing StreetCulture Secretary Nicky Morgan leaves cabinet of her own volitionChancellor Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps all expected to stay in top teamOfficial says changes likely to be more moderate than the sweeping overhaul Johnson had been mulling in recent weeks
Morgan Leaves Cabinet of Own Volition (10:30 a.m.)
Nicky Morgan told Bloomberg that she's left the cabinet of her own volition, in a move that had been widely expected. She stepped down from the House of Commons at the general election, but Johnson appointed her to the House of Lords and persuaded her to stay on in her role as Culture Secretary until the reshuffle.