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Nigerian News » Foreign
 
 

 

Updated: Chaotic start to Theresa May’s new year reshuffle


 
Posted 1 wk, 3 days ago
 
 
 
 
 
British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to refresh her government with a ministerial reshuffle Monday as she faces a crucial year for Brexit, but the shake-up began with a humiliating blunder.

A new chairman of May’s Conservative party was announced on Twitter, only for the tweet to be deleted and another man named for the post.

It was an inauspicious start to a process described as a “refresh” by Downing Street, following a tough year in which the prime minister lost her parliamentary majority and faced calls to quit.

After striking an interim Brexit deal with the European Union in December, however, May begins 2018 in a stronger position.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit minister David Davis and finance minister Philip Hammond kept their jobs, but many others were expected to move in a reshuffle prompted by the sacking of May’s deputy last month.

Damian Green was the third minister to leave the cabinet in the space of a few weeks, after the defence secretary and international development minister both quit — all three following separate scandals.

The chairman of the Conservative party, Patrick McLoughlin, was the first to go on Monday.

His replacement was announced on Twitter, only for the tweet to be almost immediately deleted.

A different man, junior immigration minister Brandon Lewis, was then confirmed to the role.

“No wonder Theresa May’s struggling to negotiate Brexit — she can’t even organise a reshuffle,” tweeted opposition Labour MP Stephen Kinnock.

McLoughlin had been widely tipped for the sack after the disastrous snap elections last June, in which the Tories lost their majority in the House of Commons.

He also drew fire after a protester interrupted May’s speech to the party conference in October — an address that was also marred by a coughing fit and a collapsing set.

It was one of several low points in a turbulent year for the prime minister, who took over the helm of a divided government and country in July 2016 after the EU referendum.

Britain is due to leave the bloc in March 2019, and although it has reached agreement on the key separation issues, the toughest talks on the future relationship have yet to begin.

May was reportedly set to create a new “no-deal” cabinet post on Monday with responsibility to prepare for a possible breakdown in the talks.

– Brexit balance –
While viewed as a chance at a fresh start, the reshuffle risks upsetting the delicate balance of eurosceptic and pro-European ministers.

Johnson, a leading Brexit supporter, kept his job despite challenging May’s strategy last year. Fellow eurosceptic Liam Fox, the international trade minister, was also expected to stay.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Hammond and interior minister Amber Rudd, who campaigned to stay in the EU, remain.

After starting the two-year Brexit process in March last year, Britain struck a deal in December on the financial settlement with Brussels, as well as on expatriate rights and the Irish border.

Negotiations on a transition deal to ease the break begin this month, while talks on a post-Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the EU are set to start in March.
 
 
 
 
 

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