Incoming British PM Johnson picks his Brexit team

Boris Johnson takes office on Wednesday as British prime minister and will then unveil the names of the team he has tasked with delivering Brexit by the end of October, with or without a deal.

Johnson enters Downing Street at one of the most perilous junctures in post-World War British history – the United Kingdom is divided over Brexit and weakened by a three-year political crisis since the Brexit referendum.

His pledge to energize the country and deliver Brexit – do or die – on Oct. 31, sets the United Kingdom up for a showdown with the European Union and thrusts it toward a potential constitutional crisis, or election, at home.

“Like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt and negativity,” Johnson, 55, said on Tuesday after he was elected by Conservative Party members.

“We are going to energize the country. We are going to get Brexit done on Oct. 31 and we are going to take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring in a new spirit of can do.”

Wednesday will combine arcane British political choreography with the realpolitik of appointing a new government – likely to be heavy on Brexit supporters.

Prime Minister Theresa May will leave Downing Street after a three-year premiership that was mired by crises over Brexit. She will travel to Buckingham Palace to formally tender her resignation to Queen Elizabeth.

Johnson will then have an audience with the queen who will request he form an administration. His formal title will be “Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury”.

He will enter Downing Street in the afternoon and is expected to give a speech before appointing key members of the government – names that could give a hint of how he will handle Brexit, Britain’s most significant decision in decades.

“Boris will build a cabinet showcasing all the talents within the party that truly reflect modern Britain,” a source close to Johnson said.

BREXIT GOVERNMENT?

But ‘Prime Minister Johnson’ – a man known for his ambition, mop of blonde hair, flowery oratory and a cursory command of detail – must solve a series of riddles if he is to succeed where May failed.

The 2016 Brexit referendum showed a United Kingdom divided about much more than the European Union, and has fueled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.

The pound is weak, the economy at risk of recession, allies are in despair at the Brexit crisis and foes are testing Britain’s vulnerability.

His party has no majority in parliament so the Conservatives only govern with the support of 10 lawmakers from the Brexit-backing Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.

While Johnson said he does not want an early election, some lawmakers have vowed to thwart any attempt to leave the EU without a divorce deal. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he was open to an electoral pact with Johnson.

Investors are braced to see who will be handed the top jobs such as finance minister, foreign secretary and Brexit minister.

Interior minister Sajid Javid is widely tipped to stay in a top job – possibly as finance minister – and was spotted flanking Johnson as he arrived before lawmakers.

There is talk that Johnson will appoint career diplomat David Frost as European Union sherpa and adviser on Europe. Dominic Cummings, the Brexit-supporting campaign director of Vote Leave, will be a senior adviser, a source for the new leader’s team said.

A record number of ethnic minority politicians are expected to serve as ministers including Priti Patel, the former aid minister who resigned in 2017 over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials, and employment minister Alok Sharma.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s rival for the leadership, was offered the job of defense minister, but turned it down, Sky reported.

NO DEAL?

Johnson has pledged to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU before Oct. 31 but if the bloc refuses, he has promised to leave without a deal on Hallowee

Reuters

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Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell