British finance minister quits in reshuffle: media

UK PM appoints Rishi Sunak new finance minister

Newly Appointed Finance Minister  Rishi Sunak
U.K.’s finance minister Sajid Javid has unexpectedly resigned from his post in Boris Johnson’s government, as the U.K. Prime Minister embarks on the first shakeup of his top team since his emphatic election victory in December.

Javid was reportedly told to sack his entire team of advisors to keep his job. Instead, he chose to resign.

Javid’s resignation could mean more power concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister.

To replace him, Johnson appointed Rishi Sunak as new Chancellor of the Exchequer (the formal title for Britain’s finance minister) on Thursday.

The U.K. Treasury’s advisory team is now reportedly set to be merged with one in the Prime Minister’s office, 10 Downing Street, a potentially long-lasting shift in the way Britain is governed.
Sajid Javid

Ahead of Johnson’s reshuffle on Thursday, government sources briefed the media that the changes would be minor.

Javid’s resignation changes that. He was Home Secretary (interior minister) before being appointed Chancellor when Johnson became Prime Minister in July.

He had run for the top job himself in the Conservatives’ internal leadership contest over the summer of 2019, and was tipped by some for a future role leading the party.

The news finance minister Sunak, 39, who previously served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the second in command to the finance minister, succeeds Sajid Javid who has resigned.

Johnson was aiming to tighten his grip on government after winning a big parliamentary majority in December’s election. That victory allowed Johnson to take Britain out of the European Union last month, delivering on his key election promise.

Now his Conservative administration faces the even bigger challenge of negotiating a new relationship with the 27-nation EU by the end of this year. The two sides are aiming to have a deal covering trade, security and other areas in place by the time a post-Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.

So far, the two sides are far apart in their demands. And even with a deal, the UK faces a huge adjustment when decades of seamless trade and travel with the EU end at the start of 2021.
Several high-profile women in Johnson's government, including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers and Housing Minister Esther McVey, all said they had been fired on Thursday morning.

Johnson also sacked Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith — a surprise move. Smith had been widely praised for helping to end political deadlock that left Northern Ireland without a regional government and assembly for three years. After pressure from the British and Irish governments, the main Irish nationalist and British unionist power-sharing parties returned to work last month.

As well as reworking his Cabinet, Johnson needs to appoint a new leader for the UN climate change conference that Britain is due to host later this year. The summit, known as the 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP26, is scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.

Planning has got off to a rocky start, with Johnson last week firing Claire O'Neill, a former British government minister appointed last year to head up the event.

(With Time and Reuters)

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