Published On: Thu, Feb 13th, 2020

BoJo wields the axe as Northern Ireland & environment ministers become notable victims in cabinet reshuffle

British PM Boris Johnson has made changes to his top team following his Tory party’s landslide general election victory, sacking a number of high profile ministers, including Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary.

Smith was the first cabinet member to fall victim to Johnson’s reshuffle, having only been in his role for 204 days. It’s a move that has surprised many after Smith oversaw the restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government last month – a notable achievement considering a resolution could not be found in the three years prior.

The feat saw Smith hailed as “one of Britain’s finest politicians of our time” by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who tweeted a thank you message to the politician after hearing of his firing.

DUP leader Arlene Foster also tweeted about her gratitude to Smith “for his help in getting devolution restored”. “We may not have always agreed (we did sometimes) but his dedication to the role was incredible,” she added.

Smith took to social media on Thursday to express his gratitude to Johnson “for giving me the chance to serve this amazing part of our country.” Details as to why he was removed have not yet emerged.

Another shock departure on Thursday was that of British Finance Minister Sajid Javid, who reportedly resigned his post during a meeting with the prime minister about the reshuffle. Treasury chief secretary Rishi Sunak has been appointed as his replacement.

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Sajid Javid arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain February 13, 2020. © REUTERS/Toby Melville
UK Chancellor Sajid Javid quits as Boris Johnson reshuffles cabinet

Several other frontbench ministers have been given the boot, including Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, Housing Secretary Esther McVey, and Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox announced on social media that he “resigned that office as requested” by the prime minister. Cox had recently raised the prospect of Supreme Court judges having to undergo an interview process with UK MPs as part of their job application.

Meanwhile, the PM’s office has confirmed that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will stay on in his post, as will Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove. Matt Hancock stays put as health minister.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson © AFP / POOL / Dan Kitwood
‘Save the union’? Boris Johnson REALLY wants to build a billions-worth bridge to N. Ireland as critics scold ‘vanity project’

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