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May gathers new-look Cabinet after bombshell resignations

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All friends now! May hails 'productive' first meeting of new-look Cabinet as she struggles to draw a line under bombshell resignations - but Brexiteers warn she must change policy or face leadership challenge

  • Theresa May is battling to cling on to her job after devastating resignation blows
  • Boris Johnson and David Davis quit in protest at the PM's 'third way' Brexit plan
  • Mrs May has gathered her new-look Cabinet as she tries to get back on front foot

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

Published: 03:28 EDT, 10 July 2018 | Updated: 08:23 EDT, 10 July 2018

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Theresa May hailed her new look Cabinet today as she staggers from two bombshell resignations in the space of 24 hours.

The Prime Minister praised the 'productive' first meeting with her reshaped team as she tries to draw a line under the shattering departures of David Davis andBoris Johnson in protest at her 'weak' Brexit trade plans.

Mrs May scrambled to fill the holes in Cabinet last night with a series of radical moves - shifting Jeremy Hunt to Foreign Secretary and Dominic Raab into the key Brexit Secretary role.

Matt Hancock has been promoted from the Culture department to Health Secretary as the premier digs in for an attritional battle with Eurosceptics.

Theresa May tweeted a picture of her new-look Cabinet team today saying they had a 'productive' meeting. Left to right around the table are: Tory chairman Brandon Lewis, Welsh Secretary Alan Cairns, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Education Secretrary Damian Hinds, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill, PM Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, (unidentified), immigration minister Caroline Nokes, Chief Secretary to Treasury Liz Truss, Chief Whip Julian Smith, energy minister Claire Perry, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Lord Leader Ruth Evans, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet Office minister David Liginton, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC
Theresa May tweeted a picture of her new-look Cabinet team today saying they had a 'productive' meeting. Left to right around the table are: Tory chairman Brandon Lewis, Welsh Secretary Alan Cairns, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Education Secretrary Damian Hinds, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill, PM Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, (unidentified), immigration minister Caroline Nokes, Chief Secretary to Treasury Liz Truss, Chief Whip Julian Smith, energy minister Claire Perry, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Lord Leader Ruth Evans, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet Office minister David Liginton, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC

Theresa May tweeted a picture of her new-look Cabinet team today saying they had a 'productive' meeting. Left to right around the table are: Tory chairman Brandon Lewis, Welsh Secretary Alan Cairns, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Education Secretrary Damian Hinds, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill, PM Theresa May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, (unidentified), immigration minister Caroline Nokes, Chief Secretary to Treasury Liz Truss, Chief Whip Julian Smith, energy minister Claire Perry, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Lord Leader Ruth Evans, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet Office minister David Liginton, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC

The Prime Minister (pictured at No10 today) will try to get back on the front foot after shoring up her team following the shattering departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson
The Prime Minister (pictured at No10 today) will try to get back on the front foot after shoring up her team following the shattering departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister (pictured at No10 today) will try to get back on the front foot after shoring up her team following the shattering departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson

Matt Hancock (pictured left at No10 today) has become Health Secretary
Matt Hancock (pictured left at No10 today) has become Health Secretary
Mrs May scrambled to fill the holes in Cabinet last night with a series of radical moves - shifting Jeremy Hunt (pictured at his London home this morning) to Foreign Secretary
Mrs May scrambled to fill the holes in Cabinet last night with a series of radical moves - shifting Jeremy Hunt (pictured at his London home this morning) to Foreign Secretary

Mrs May scrambled to fill the holes in Cabinet last night with a series of radical moves - shifting Jeremy Hunt (pictured right at No10 this morning) to Foreign Secretary. Matt Hancock (pictured left today) has become Health Secretary

Eight Cabinet ministers have now departed Mrs May's team over the past year. Highlighted in red in this graphic, they are (front row left to right) Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd, Damian Green, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, David Davis. On the back row is Sir Patrick McLoughlin, and on the second row to the right is Priti Patel 
Eight Cabinet ministers have now departed Mrs May's team over the past year. Highlighted in red in this graphic, they are (front row left to right) Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd, Damian Green, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, David Davis. On the back row is Sir Patrick McLoughlin, and on the second row to the right is Priti Patel 

Eight Cabinet ministers have now departed Mrs May's team over the past year. Highlighted in red in this graphic, they are (front row left to right) Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd, Damian Green, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening, David Davis. On the back row is Sir Patrick McLoughlin, and on the second row to the right is Priti Patel 

Business Secretary Greg Clark was at Downing Street for the Cabinet gathering today 
Business Secretary Greg Clark was at Downing Street for the Cabinet gathering today 
New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab
New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab

Business Secretary Greg Clark (left) was at Downing Street for the Cabinet gathering today, as was the new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab  

Boris Johnson (pictured signing his resignation letter last night) gave a scathing verdict on Theresa May's Brexit plans saying the 'Brexit dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt'
Boris Johnson (pictured signing his resignation letter last night) gave a scathing verdict on Theresa May's Brexit plans saying the 'Brexit dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt'

Boris Johnson (pictured signing his resignation letter last night) gave a scathing verdict on Theresa May's Brexit plans saying the 'Brexit dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt'

Tweeting a picture of the Cabinet meeting, Mrs May said: 'Productive Cabinet meeting this morning – looking ahead to a busy week. And sending our best wishes to @England for tomorrow!' 

Downing Street said ministers 'discussed the forthcoming publication of the White Paper on the future partnership with the EU and how no deal with is being stepped up'.

The meeting also covered Salisbury, the Nato summit and 'formally congratulated the England team'. 

In a boost for Mrs May, it emerged last night that the chair of the powerful Tory 1922 committee has yet to receive the 48 letters from MPs needed to trigger a no-confidence vote. 

But although she has weathered the initial shock of the resignations, furious Brexiteers have warned that a challenge could come within weeks unless she changes policy. 

How could Theresa May be ousted as Tory leader?

Theresa May faces a mortal threat to her leadership of the Conservative Party and Government today. 

A Tory leadership contest can be called in one of two ways - if Mrs May resigns or if MPs force and win a vote of no confidence in her.

Calling votes of no confidence is the responsibility of the chairman of the 1922 Committee, which includes all backbench Tory MPs.

Chairman Graham Brady is obliged to call a vote if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to him calling for one - currently 48 MPs. 

The process is secret and only Mr Brady knows how many letters he has received.

The procedure was last used in 2003 when Iain Duncan Smith was ousted as Tory leader.

If Mrs May is ousted, any MP is eligible to stand.

Conservative MPs will then hold a series of ballots to whittle the list of contenders down to two, with the last place candidate dropping out in each round. 

The final two candidates are then offered to the Tory membership at large for an election. 

There is also anger that politicians who campaigned for Remain in the referendum are now installed in the four Great Offices of State - with Mrs May as PM, Philip Hammond Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt Foreign Secretary, and Sajid Javid Home Secretary.

Justice Secretary David Gauke insisted the Cabinet was now fully behind Mrs May's approach on Brexit after the departures. 

'Clearly David and Boris have reached their conclusions that they couldn't support the policy. I think it is right the cabinet backs the prime minister and speaks with one voice and if people don't do that then clearly the honourable thing to do is go,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

Michael Gove sparked a mini-panic in Westminster this morning as he cancelled a press conference. 

However, a diary clash was blamed and he surfaced to declare that he backed the Prime Minister's plans '100 per cent' and was 'absolutely not' planning to resign.

He told reporters outside his house: 'I admire Boris and David very much and I'm sorry that they have left the Government, but ... I hope you have a lovely day.' 

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was seen to shake his head and mouth the word 'No' when reporters asked him on his way out of Cabinet whether he was about to quit.   

After Cabinet, Mrs May headed to a service at Westminster Abbey commemorating the 100th anniversary of the RAF. 

She read the Hebrews 11:32-12:2 Bible passage, praising those 'who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised'.

In words that could almost have been a message to Brexiteers, it heralds those whose 'weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies'.

'These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect,' the passage states. 

Mr Johnson gave a scathing verdict on Mrs May's Brexit plans in his resignation letter, saying the 'Brexit dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt'.

The ex Foreign Secretary said Mrs May was putting Britain on a track to having 'the status of a colony'.

Mr Johnson said Britain was destined for a 'semi Brexit' if the blueprint agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers on Friday is delivered. 

He said selling the policy would 'stick in the throat' and he could not stand by waving 'white flags' of surrender, meaning he had to quit.

But Mrs May hit back in her icy letter accepting his resignation - effectively accusing him of signing up to the Chequers plan before walking away. 

She said:  'I am sorry - and a little surprised - to receive it [resignation letter] after the productive discussions we had at Chequers on Friday, and the comprehensive and detailed proposal which we agreed as a Cabinet.'

The PM said that after months of offering ministers 'considerable latitude to express their individual views' she is now imposing order on her Cabinet who must back the Government line.

She added: 'If you are not able to provide the support we need to secure this deal in the interests of the United Kingdom, it is right that you should step down.'

The resignations were a stunning reversal from Friday's special Cabinet at Chequers when all ministers signed up to the Brexit plan.

Mr Johnson even proposed a toast to the deal - and suggested writing a joint newspaper column with Chancellor Philip Hammond. 

After two hours in the Commons defending her plans yesterday afternoon, the PM faced Tory MPs behind closed doors - with many warning her offer gave too much away.

However, she is still thought to have support from the majority of the party - meaning Brexiteers could find it very difficult to oust her. 

Who are the newly promoted Cabinet ministers?

Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary

One of the great survivors of the modern Tory party, Hunt has just concluded the longest-ever stint at the Department of Health.

A Remainer-turned-Brexiteer, Hunt is one of just three Tory ministers to have served every day as a Cabinet minister since David Cameron became PM in 2010 - alongside Philip Hammond and Theresa May.

He survived a political near-death experience as Culture Secretary in 2012 after becoming embroiled in a scandal over Murdoch's first bid to buy Sky at the height of the phone hacking scandal. 

Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary 

A close ally of the man he replaced as Brexit Secretary, Raab has long been seen as a potential high flyer - and one who Theresa May had been keen to keep out of the Cabinet.

He was a senior campaigner in Vote Leave and a frequent face on television to defend the Government since first being made a minister in 2015. 

May dumped him from her first Government in July 2016 but he was back as Housing Minister a year later - refuelling the view among some Tories he could be a future leader. 

A karate black belt, Raab has a long history of right-wing remarks many find unpalatable - including branding feminists 'obnoxious bigots'. 

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary

The only MP with his own smart phone app, Hancock is a deeply ambitious minister who was among the first of the 2010 intake to get on the Government career ladder.

Shortly after his first promotion, Hancock infamously compared himself to famous ex Prime Ministers Churchill, Disraeli and Pitt.

May finally have him the Cabinet promotion he craved in July 2016 and he set about expanding the Government's digital agenda - even adding it to the name of his department. 

Bizarrely, he was filmed singing Happy Birthday to himself at Tory Party conference karaoke later that year.  

Jeremy Wright, Culture Secretary

In a four year spell as the Government's chief law officer under both Cameron and May, Wright's main claim to fame was as the face of the Government's defence in the court case on Article 50.

Wright personally led the Government's case in the High Court - but lost, leaving him to take a back seat during the final round in the Supreme Court.

A further defeat to Gina Miller prompted some calls for his resignation. 

Moving into the main Cabinet as a full Secretary of State is a highly unorthodox promotion for an Attorney General. 

Geoffrey Cox, Attorney General 

Infamously the MP on the green benches with the highest outside earnings, Cox is prestigious and senior barrister.

He has never joined the Government in a 13-year Commons career but has earned millions continuing his work at the Bar. 

Cox was forced to resign from a committee post in October 2015 after failing to declare £325,000 in outside earnings.

He was also slammed for expense claims for a 49p bottle of milk and £2 of tea bags. 

Chief secretary Liz Truss and new Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright were at the Cabinet meeting today
Chief secretary Liz Truss and new Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright were at the Cabinet meeting today

Chief secretary Liz Truss and new Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright were at the Cabinet meeting today

Chris Grayling
Chris Grayling
Liam Fox
Liam Fox

Chris Grayling (left) and Liam Fox are key Brexiteers in the Cabinet after the departure of Mr Johnson and David Davis

Michael Gove
Michael Gove
Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

Michael Gove and Sajid Javid (pictured left and right respectively in Downing Street today) have stayed loyal despite misgivings over the Brexit plan

Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt was among those attending the Cabinet meeting in Downing Street today
Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt was among those attending the Cabinet meeting in Downing Street today

Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt was among those attending the Cabinet meeting in Downing Street today

Chief whip Julian Smith has been a key player in the Tory drama unfolding at Westminster
Chief whip Julian Smith has been a key player in the Tory drama unfolding at Westminster

Chief whip Julian Smith has been a key player in the Tory drama unfolding at Westminster

Boris Johnson tore into the PM's Brexit plans in his resignation letter
Boris Johnson tore into the PM's Brexit plans in his resignation letter

In a long resignation letter, Mr Johnson said selling the policy would 'stick in the throat' and he could not stand by waving 'white flags' of surrender

David Davis (pictured leaving radio studios in London yesterday) sparked the latest turmoil by resigning over the PM's Brexit plans
David Davis (pictured leaving radio studios in London yesterday) sparked the latest turmoil by resigning over the PM's Brexit plans

David Davis (pictured leaving radio studios in London yesterday) sparked the latest turmoil by resigning over the PM's Brexit plans

How a day of Brexit chaos unfolded

Theresa May's Government was rocked in 20 hours of Brexit chaos. This is how the drama unfolded minute by minute:  

 Sunday July 8, 23.59 

David Davis sensationally resigns as Brexit Secretary, insisting he cannot support the Chequers plan because it will hand Britain only 'illusory' control over its future.

Monday July 9, 00.18

Leading Brexiteer Peter Bone welcomes the 'principled and brave decision'.

00.32

Mr Davis' deputy Steve Baker quits Dexeu. 

00.37

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the Tory European Research Group, tells Sky News Mr Davis quitting proves the Chequers plan is a 'serious mistake'.

01.16 

Theresa May's letter to Mr Davis says she is sorry he is quitting after getting the UK close to exit and defends her plans.

02.43

Jeremy Corbyn tweets an attack on a 'Government in chaos' and claims Mrs May no longer has any authority.

04.38

Nigel Farage tweets congratulations and calls on Tory MPs to remove the 'awful, duplicitous PM'.

05.10

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry points out Theresa May has lost a Cabinet minister every six weeks. 

08.18

Davis tells the Today programme he is quitting because he cannot defend something 'central' to his job. He endorses May to carry on as PM.

08.30 

Labour MP David Lammy is among the first to point out Davis is running away from responsibility as a Brexiteer.

09.17 

Rees-Mogg tells LBC there will not be an immediate confidence vote but warns May to drop her Chequers plan because it won't 'actually deliver Brexit'.

10.25

Dominic Raab is appointed Brexit Secretary.

11.57

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas insists Davis quitting changes nothing in the talks and says Brussels is 'here to work'.

13.20

Boris Johnson fails to appear at either a Cobra meeting in Whitehall or the Western Balkans summit in central London.

13.47 

With rumours swirling, Nigel Farage says Johnson would be a 'hero' if he resigned.

14.31 

A removal van is spotted outside the Johnson family home in Islington. 

15.02

Downing Street announces Johnson's resignation. Word spreads he is still writing his resignation letter and No 10 has pre-empted his announcement.

15.34 

Donald Tusk tweets his continued regret at Brexit but hints at hopes the resignations could stop the entire process.

15.36

May is cheered by Tory MPs as she rises in the Commons to present the Chequers plan - but she is jeered and faces shouts of 'resign' from the Opposition.

15.55

Corbyn mocks the Prime Minister for taking two years to develop a plan that took two days to collapse. 

16.43 

Downing Street vow May will contest any no confidence vote.

17.09

Rumours swirl 1922 chairman Sir Graham Brady has the 48 letters needed to call a no confidence vote. He denies it as MPs gather. 

17.43

May arrives at a packed 1922 Committee to loud banging of tables. 

18.09

Johnson's resignation letter emerges, claiming the 'Brexit dream is dying' and May's plan will consign Britain to a future as a 'colony'. 

19.59 

May's response to Johnson is published saying she is 'sorry - and a little surprised' he is quitting over a policy he endorsed at Cabinet on Friday. 

21.00 

Jeremy Hunt is appointed Foreign Secretary 

 

 

 

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By Shawn Arnette 10/07/2018 08:23:00