May’s crowd: personalities of new British ministers

May’s crowd: personalities of new British ministersNew Prime Minister Theresa May, who took office on Wednesday with a mandate to take Britain out of the European Union, has announced the senior members of her cabinet.

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer - Former shadow Chief Secretary, Foreign Secretary since 2014. Hammond will have to manage an economy that risks sliding into recession after last month's vote to leave the EU, and set new budget goals after his predecessor George Osborne abandoned his aim to run a budget surplus by 2020. He has a reputation as a safe media performer, although just the other day set off unhelpful headlines about Brexit possibly taking six or more years.

Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary - the most surprising of May's appointments. The flamboyant former Mayor of London was a leading figure in the victorious "Leave" campaign in Britain's European Union membership referendum last month but has never been a byword for diplomacy. Johnson, who has not previously held a cabinet post, will have to address questions about the country's role in the world after its exit from the EU and shape British policy towards key areas like Syria, Iran and Russia. The United States said it was looking forward to working with him.

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary - a former British energy minister, will play a key role in the country's approach to immigration, the issue which is widely believed to have swayed the EU vote to "Leave." Rudd, who succeeds May in charge of the Home Office, became a lawmaker in 2010 and served as parliamentary private secretary to former finance minister George Osborne from 2012 to 2013. She later joined the department for energy and climate change, where she was promoted to minister in 2015. She was a high-profile supporter of the "Remain" camp in the referendum. Remarkable is the fact that the Home Secretary last month said that the Foreign Secretary wasn’t the sort of man she’d trust to drive her home at the end of the evening. Given that the Home Office and the Foreign Office will have to work closely to devise and explain Britain’s new immigration policy (whatever that may by) this can only be one of the truly fascinating Cabinet relationships.

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU - a senior Conservative lawmaker who was beaten by former prime minister David Cameron in the party's 2005 leadership election contest. Davis, a strong supporter of Brexit, has said Britain should take its time before formally starting the divorce process by triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. This was an appointment to appease and calm the party, to avoid a split with the Leavers that could kill the May government at birth.

Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary – defense minister from 2010 to 2011 and is a former minister in the foreign office. Fox will be in charge of forging new international trade deals after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Fox recently wrote a book about the rise China as an economic power and had a good referendum campaign, arguing for Leave without attacking his Remainer colleagues.

Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary - the only no-change of the day-one appointments, Theresa May obviously thought it important to send a signal that she takes national security seriously by confirming the Defence Secretary in his post. He is a former Vice Chairman of the ruling Conservative Party. He has also served in the business and energy departments and on the Treasury select committee.
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