Boris Johnson becomes UK Prime Minister

By Rob Picheta and Kara Fox, CNN

Updated 4:41 a.m. ET, July 25, 2019
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1:53 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

A major Cabinet reshuffle

A number of cabinet members have been sacked or have resigned after Johnson's victory.

Here are the departures so far:

Jeremy Hunt, former Foreign Secretary

Penny Mordaunt, former Defense Secretary

Greg Clark, former Business Secretary

Liam Fox, former International Development Secretary

Philip Hammond, former Chancellor of the Exchequer

Damian Hinds, former Education Secretary

James Brokenshire, former Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary

Rory Stewart, former Secretary for International Development

Karen Bradley, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 

David Liddington, former Secretary of State for Justice

David Gauke, former UK Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

The May-Johnson transition is the biggest reshuffling of Cabinet ministers to happen in more than a decade, according to an analysis of ministerial databases by the Institute for Government, a London-based independent think tank.

The Ministers' section of UK government's website currently reads: "This page is currently being updated."


1:44 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

The UK 'deserves better than Johnson's empty bluster,' says Jeremy Corbyn

In a statement responding to Johnson's speech, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said:

“After nine years of cuts to our schools, police and councils, the country deserves better than Boris Johnson’s empty bluster.

“The new Prime Minister’s priority is more tax giveaways for the richest and big businesses, not support for our public services.

“The Prime Minister has no plan for Brexit and is staking everything on a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump which would risk the takeover of our NHS by US corporations.

“A Labour government can stop Boris Johnson and bring an end to austerity, tackle the climate emergency and invest in our communities. We need a general election and a Labour government that works for the many, not the privileged few.”

1:17 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Jeremy Hunt has left his post as Foreign Secretary

Jeremy Hunt, who was defeated by Johnson in the Tory leadership race, will not continue in his role as Foreign Secretary.

He's also turned down a new ministerial post offered to him by Johnson.

Hunt tweeted: “I would have been honored to carry on my work at FCO but understand the need for a new PM to choose his team. BJ kindly offered me another role. But after 9 years in cabinet and over 300 cabinet meetings, now is the time to return to backbenches from where PM will have full support. “

He added that he's decided to now focus on the "biggest challenge of all - to be a GOOD DAD!"

1:11 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Putin congratulates Johnson

Getty Images
Getty Images

Vladimir Putin has sent a congratulatory message to Britain's new PM.

“The interests of our countries and peoples would be met by the development of relations in the most diverse spheres,” said the Russian President.

Last month, at the G20 in Osaka, Japan, Putin and former PM Theresa May had a frosty meeting after May asked for the Russian men that Britain blames for a high-profile poisoning to be brought to justice.

Relations between the nations have been strained since March 2018, when former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found slumped on a bench in the English city of Salisbury, after being exposed to Novichok, a military grade nerve agent. 

May told Putin that any attempt to rekindle relations would be put on hold until "Russia stops the irresponsible and destabilizing activity" such as "hostile interventions in other countries, disinformation and cyber attacks," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Last month, CNN reported that the UK is investigating alleged Russian links to the Brexit campaign.

12:26 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Secretary of State for International Trade and Business Secretary are out

Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, has left the government. Fox was responsible for negotiating the UK’s trade deals around the globe.

On Twitter, Fox said that the trade department leaves the UK “uniquely well-positioned to forge our new tradition relationships beyond Europe and create a truly Global Britain. But we must first undertake the momentous task of delivering on the instruction of the British people and leave the EU.”

He added that he looks forward to supporting Johnson from the back benches.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced his departure shortly after Fox. 

He wrote on Twitter that Johnson is "right to appoint a new team for a new premiership."

Clark has been vocally opposed to a no-deal Brexit. 

12:04 p.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Defense Secretary quits Cabinet

Penny Mordaunt, Theresa May's Defense Secretary, has resigned from her post moments after Boris Johnson's appointment as Prime Minister. She's said on Twitter that she will be "heading to the backbenches."

That's a slightly more unexpected departure than those of moderate Conservatives who quit earlier in the day.

11:43 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Is the Queen fanning the flames of Brexit with a hidden message?


Eagle-eyed followers of today's proceedings have noticed a Dyson fan in the background of the photos showing Boris Johnson meeting the Queen.

It's hard to blame the Queen, who's 93, for trying to keep cool -- London is baking in 33C (91 degree Fahrenheit) heat on Wednesday. She might wish she could be at her summer retreat Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands, where the weather is far more manageable.

Now, bear with us -- we may be scraping the barrel here -- but Dyson's inventor, James Dyson, is a leading Brexiteer and has spoken on several occasions of his desire for a hard Brexit.

Could the Queen be sending a secret message? Is she a fan of Brexit? Does she feel leaving the EU will be a breath of fresh air, giving Britain a second wind? If so, she'll surely be fanning the flames of Remainers around the country.

Or is she just a 93-year-old woman trying to keep cool in a heat wave? Perhaps we'll never know.

Thursday -- Johnson's first full day as leader -- could be the hottest day in British history, according to the Met Office.

Given that Johnson divides the British public like no other politician, that will be taken either to mean a glorious new dawn in the country or its unstoppable descent into hell. But definitely nothing in between.

11:25 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Boris Johnson needs to unite the nation he now leads

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee


As the UK’s new Prime Minister stood outside the famous black door of 10 Downing Street, addressing the public for the first time as leader, he made clear that bringing Britain together was his intention.

Johnson opened by saying that pessimists “at home and abroad” had created an impression that the UK had become a “prisoner” to the divisions Brexit created in 2016.

His message was simple: “The critics are wrong … the gloomsters will be wrong again.”

He said that to give the UK the shot in the arm it needs, he would immediately get working on key issues that divide the citizens he now works for. He talked about reforming social care, investing in education, putting more police on the streets and making the National Health Service work more for the people of the country.

It’s certainly true that if these issues were fixed, the United Kingdom would become, well, more united.

Indeed, Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor, said similar things when she stood on the steps of Downing Street three years ago.

But then Brexit happened – or didn’t, more specifically. The UK’s failure to agree how it will leave the EU has sucked all oxygen from politics and pushed all other policy out the way.

It has made the UK virtually ungovernable.

All Johnson had to say on Brexit was that it would happen on October 31, "no ifs, no buts," and that with a new optimistic outlook, the UK would get a brand new deal from Europe.

Given that the EU has repeatedly said this won’t happen, this might be wishful thinking. Which leaves us with option two in the "no ifs or buts" scenario: no deal.

Boris Johnson might be optimistic today. But he faces all the same problems as Theresa May when it comes to Brexit.

Soon, Johnson will have to pick between the softer, pragmatic Brexiteers and the hardliners who want no deal.

Until now, he has been able to promise everyone the world. But with just 99 days to sort out Brexit, Johnson’s honeymoon period could be over before his premiership gets going. And if he gets this wrong, his premiership could be over before you know it.

11:07 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Johnson enters 10 Downing Street, saying: The work begins now


"Let's get going now," Johnson says, listing a number of technological accomplishments he wants to achieve.

"And yes, let's start now on those free trade deals," he adds. "All this and more we can do now and only now at this extraordinary moment in our history."

He attacks May's tenure, albeit not by name, as "three years of unfounded self doubt."

"That work begins now. Thank you very much," he says, wrapping up a speech he's waited his entire career to make, before posing in front of the door to Number 10 alone and waving to reporters.

Johnson then enters the building as the 77th prime minister of the United Kingdom.