Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired his first cabinet meeting Thursday after a brutal overhaul installed a right-wing government bent on leaving the EU at any cost.
The former London mayor took office Wednesday and purged more than half the ministers who served under his Conservative predecessor Theresa May in the turbulent closing months of her rule.
The shake-up was the biggest in Britain’s modern political history and some papers accused the new leader of exacting a Godfather-style revenge on his doubters and rivals.
The Financial Times called it a “remarkable bout of political bloodletting (that) created a hardcore team of Brexiteers determined to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 and primed for an early election”.
Johnson himself reaffirmed his commitment to his cabinet Thursday to leave by the twice-delayed October 31 deadline.
“No ifs. No buts,” he said in opening remarks that were followed by a traditional banging by ministers on the desk in a sign of approval.
“But we’re not going to wait until October 31 to get on with a fantastic new agenda for our country,” the 55-year-old said.
The new government is comprised of a mix of social conservatives and Brexit hardliners who argue that leaving the EU after 46 years without an agreement will be less painful than economists warn.
The markets were relieved by the appointment of former Deutsche Bank trader Sajid Javid as finance minister.
The pound held steady against the dollar and euro as traders waited for Johnson’s first policy moves.
Other appointments were more divisive.
Brexit hardliner Dominic Raab became foreign secretary and Jacob Rees-Mogg — leader of right-wing faction of Conservatives who helped bring about May’s demise — as the government’s parliament representative.
New interior minister Priti Patel has previously expressed support for the death penalty and voted against same-sex marriage.
The Labour opposition-backing Mirror newspaper called it “Britain’s most right-wing government since the 1980s”.