Boris Johnson executed a brutal clear-out of more than half of his predecessor’s top team, installing supporters in key roles as the new prime minister signaled his intent to deliver Brexit in 98 days.
Eighteen of the 29 ministers who sat in Theresa May’s cabinet on Wednesday morning were out of their jobs by the evening, including May herself. There were top jobs for Sajid Javid, named chancellor of the exchequer, Priti Patel, who becomes home secretary, and Dominic Raab, the new foreign secretary. Johnson will chair the first meeting of his top team Thursday morning before setting out his priorities in a statement to the House of Commons.
The purge sent the unequivocal message that Johnson wants to stamp his authority and change the direction of government. But although the new cabinet has a much more hard-Brexit flavor, the ejection of so many ministers is a risky move.
Johnson has now stacked the back benches of the Commons with Conservatives who owe him nothing and won’t support a no-deal Brexit, a policy that the new prime minister reiterated Wednesday remains on the table. If he is serious about no-deal, Johnson will have to find a way to sideline Parliament -- or change its make-up by calling an election.
One of his new appointees, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told ITV late Wednesday that while an election isn’t a government objective, "it’s impossible to rule out, looking at the Parliamentary arithmetic.” [...]
The premier has put his one-time nemesis, Michael Gove, in charge of those no-deal Brexit preparations, alongside his former aide Dominic Cummings. When the three men last worked together, on the 2016 Leave campaign, they turned the country upside down.
Now Cummings and Gove have the chance to deliver a revolution in the way the government functions -- something both men have long yearned for.
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