Who's who: Theresa May's first Cabinet appointments

Our guide to the first six Cabinet ministers appointed by the new Prime Minister on Wednesday

John Rentoul
Thursday 14 July 2016 08:51 BST
Theresa May said on the steps of 10 Downing Street that she was on the side of "just managing" families
Theresa May said on the steps of 10 Downing Street that she was on the side of "just managing" families (Rex)

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Former shadow Chief Secretary, No 2 to George Osborne in opposition, and an MP with pre-politics experience of the private sector, some of it even in manufacturing. He has a reputation as a safe media performer, although just the other day set off unhelpful headlines about Brexit possibly taking six or more years. Once worked for a company making medical equipment that was briefly chaired by Jeffrey Archer. They didn't get on.

Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary

The big surprise of the new Prime Minister’s first-day appointments was the roller coaster ride back up of the career of the man who a few days ago seemed certain to be the next prime minister.

As soon as the appointment was announced, however, its rationale was evident. He was the leading figure in the Leave campaign, and putting him in one of the three “great offices of state” should keep the Eurosceptics happy. Without Europe and international trade the scope for him to get into mischief is limited, although journalists are already having fun trawling through his extensive journalism to find examples of his being rude to foreigners.

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary

One of the fastest rises to high office of recent years for someone who became an MP only six years ago. She joined the Cabinet only last year in the junior post of Energy and Climate Change Secretary, didn't make a mess of it and made an impression in the referendum campaign as an aggressive Remainer who clashed with Johnson, saying he was the life and soul of the party but you wouldn't want him to drive you home afterwards.

She’s a social liberal who is known for being the sister of Roland Rudd, the pro-EU campaigner, and for being posh enough to have been the “aristocracy co-ordinator” for Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary

The only no-change of the day-one appointments, Theresa May obviously thought it important to send a signal that she takes national security seriously by confirming the Defence Secretary in his post.

Fallon is another reliable all-round defender of the Government in the media. He joined the Cabinet only two years ago, but feels as if he has been there for ages. He has actually been an MP for a very long time, a rare retread who was MP for Darlington 1983-92 before returning to the Commons for the safe Tory seat of Sevenoaks after a five-year gap in 1997.

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU

Accidental prize for the silliest cabinet title since Children, Schools and Families, which was known by civil servants as Curtains and Soft Furnishings as a way of remembering the order of the words.

A remarkable comeback for the career of Davis, destroyed by an impetuous and quixotic resignation as shadow Home Secretary to fight a by-election on a point of principle that no one can remember. He thinks he is qualified for the job, having been Minister for Europe under John Major and the Government Whip during the passage of the Maastricht Treaty through the Commons.

Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary

A less surprising comeback for the former Defence Secretary who resigned in 2011 for having allowed Adam Werrity, a friend, access to the heart of government. Fox recently wrote a book about the rise China as an economic power and had a good referendum campaign, arguing for Leave without attacking his Remainer colleagues.

Another change to the structure of Whitehall: a new department to give a Brexiter responsibility for making good his rhetoric about a world of trading possibility outside the EU. Implications for the Business, Innovation and Skills department possibly to be clarified on Thursday.

Fox has a reputation as a right-winger: he was narrowly the third-placed candidate for the Tory leadership in 2005, after David Cameron won over some of his Eurosceptic supporters by promising to break with the Christian Democratic grouping in the European Parliament. But he came fifth out of five this time, winning just 16 votes, and was eliminated first.

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