May appoints Jeremy Hunt as new foreign minister

British Secretary of State for the Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt arrives at Downing Street for a cabinet meeting in London, Britain, 3 July 2018. [Andy Rain/EPA/EFE]

British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Jeremy Hunt as foreign minister yesterday (9 July) after predecessor Boris Johnson resigned in protest at the government’s plans for a close trading relationship with the European Union.

Boris Johnson quit his post yesterday, following the earlier resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis, putting the government in a tight spot with less than nine months left to complete the complex Brexit negotiations.

Boris Johnson resigns as Brexiteers start to tumble

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson quit his post on Monday (9 July), following the earlier resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis, putting the government in a tight spot with less than nine months left to complete the complex Brexit negotiations.

The appointment of Hunt, the long-serving health minister, sees a close May ally replace the maverick Johnson, and could alter the Brexit balance of May’s top ministerial team.

While Johnson was one of the most high-profile Brexit campaigners, Hunt backed “Remain” during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Hunt told LBC Radio in October 2017, however, that he had changed his mind on the issue, in part because of what he said was disappointing “arrogance” in the EU’s behaviour during negotiations.

Last month, Hunt said it was inappropriate for businesses like Airbus to issue warnings about moving jobs because of Brexit and that they should instead be getting behind May in her push for a good deal on leaving the EU.

“Huge honour to be appointed Foreign Secretary at this critical moment in our country’s history,” he said in a tweet after his appointment.

“Time to back our PM to get a great Brexit deal – it’s now or never…”

Hunt, 51, had served as health minister for more than 5-1/2 years, the longest term of any in the history of the state-funded National Health Service, weathering doctors’ strikes, public discontent with funding levels and other challenges.

Hunt said it was a “massive wrench” for him to leave the department, adding: “I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec”.

Matt Hancock replaced Hunt as health secretary, while Attorney General Jeremy Wright was appointed as minister of digital culture, media and sport, Hancock’s old job.

May’s office said Geoffrey Cox would be the new attorney general.

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