Saturday 10 December 2016

Boris left in charge at No 10 as PM May on holiday

Laura Hughes

Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30

Mr Johnson takes the helm just weeks after he was forced to drop out of the Conservative leadership race following a coup by Michael Gove, the former justice secretary. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Mr Johnson takes the helm just weeks after he was forced to drop out of the Conservative leadership race following a coup by Michael Gove, the former justice secretary. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Boris Johnson is effectively running the UK after becoming the most senior politician while Theresa May is on holiday in Switzerland, Downing Street has revealed.

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The Foreign Secretary takes over from Chancellor Philip Hammond as he goes on holiday. Mr Hammond was the senior duty minister last week when the prime minister began her annual walking holiday in Switzerland.

A No 10 spokesman stressed, however, that Ms May still remained very much in charge of the government even while out of the country.

Mr Johnson has been given the role despite featuring in a Whitehall feud in which Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, effectively called for the Foreign Office to be broken up. In a letter to Mr Johnson, Dr Fox suggested that British trade with other countries will not "flourish" if responsibility for future policy rests with the Foreign Office.

Ms May was "unimpressed" with Dr Fox's behaviour and sources said she wants her ministers to "stop wasting time" and instead focus on delivering Brexit.

Mr Johnson takes the helm just weeks after he was forced to drop out of the Conservative leadership race following a coup by Michael Gove, the former justice secretary.

Alistair Burt, a former foreign office minister, told BBC Radio 4's 'The World At One' he believed the Foreign Office should retain serious responsibility for all elements of foreign policy, including trade. He also admitted that Mr Johnson, Dr Fox and David Davis, the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, did not have a record as "team players".

However, he said they "owed" Ms May and should "drop a bit of their strong characters" to work together.

In the letter, sent to Mr Johnson at the end of last month, Dr Fox said: "If we fail to take this opportunity to restructure now I feel we will have a suboptimal structure for the future." Mr Johnson rejected the request and instead agreed to "second a small number of staff" to Dr Fox's department. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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