PM Johnson to host new cabinet to chart Brexit course

02:15 PM | 25 Jul, 2019
PM Johnson to host new cabinet to chart Brexit course
LONDON - Britain's newly installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs his first cabinet meeting Thursday as he tries to unite the deeply polarised nation in a last big push out of EU.

The former London mayor took office Wednesday and swept out more than half the ministers who served under his Conservative predecessor Theresa May in the turbulent closing months of her premiership.

The shakeup was one of the biggest in decades and saw some papers accuse Britain's new leader of exacting revenge on his doubters and supporters of past policies.

"The night of the blond knives," declared The Daily Telegraph. The Times called it an "afternoon of cabinet carnage".

Johnson, 55, appointed former Deutsche Bank trader Sajid Javid as finance minister and Brexit hardliner Dominic Raab as foreign secretary.

He also named Jacob Rees-Mogg -- leader of an arch-Brexiteer faction of Conservatives who were partially responsible for May's ultimate decision to resign -- as the government's representative in parliament's lower House of Commons.

Johnson installed other loyalists in place of cabinet members who backed May's efforts to ram through an unpopular European divorce deal.

The Labour opposition-backing Mirror newspaper called it "Britain's most right-wing government since the 1980s" rule of the late Margaret Thatcher.

Johnson delivered a characteristically optimistic speech Wednesday in which he vowed to steer Britain out of the EU on October 31 "no ifs or buts".

It is a big promise that could backfire and spell a premature end to Johnson's lifelong dream of leading Britain -- an ambition that seemed doomed when he quit as foreign minister last year.