NEW: David Davis is one of "a triangle of Brexit leaders"
Women take home, education, and justice Cabinet posts
It’s been quite a month for Britain.
The country voted to leave the European Union, the Prime Minister resigned, another was appointed, and a gaffe-prone politician with a tendency to blurt out offensive remarks was named top diplomat. And now there’s a Brexit minister.
Newly appointed Prime Minister Theresa May is giving the Conservative Party Cabinet a brutal shakeup, creating an army of politicians to make sure Britain’s exit from the European Union happens, and with the best outcome possible for the United Kingdom.
She has deliberately picked three staunch Brexit campaigners to be the triangle at the helm of what could be a painstaking and long separation from the European Union, forcing them to take responsibility for the biggest political change in decades – a change that they helped bring on.
Here’s what you need to know:
Who is in the Brexit triangle?
Technically, the Brexit minister title is secretary of state for exiting the European Union, and the role goes to Conservative Party MP David Davis.
It is a job that no one seemed to want, but it has brought Davis out from the political doldrums – and he just may be the kind of politician who will enjoy the painstaking job.
He is a hardline Euroskeptic who is seen as such a tough negotiator that the French named him “Monsieur Non.”
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson became foreign secretary, a decision that was met with ridicule from many parts of the world. May’s former rival, Liam Fox, is now in the new role of international trade minister and will likely oversee tough trade negotiations with the EU.
“Theresa May is creating a triangle of Brexit leaders – you’ve got the Brexit minister David Davis, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox,” CNN political contributor Robin Oakley said.
“The idea is that May is putting three top Brexit campaigners in the Brexit jobs. She’s saying ‘You wanted this, you do the negotiations, you take responsibility for it, and demonstrate that it will produce the advantages you said it would.”
Davis wants to have his cake and eat it too. He says Britain should have access to the EU’s single trade market, but rejects the idea that Britain should allow EU immigrants freedom to work in Britain in return. He has vowed a “brisk but measured approach to Brexit.”
And it seems he means business. He has said that he want to trigger Article 50 – in other words, officially file for divorce from the European Union – by early next year.
It will be a demanding task. The union and Britain have already been at loggerheads over the deal, with Britain saying it wants to know what its future relationship with the union will look like after leaving, and with the union saying it will not even entertain talks until Britain triggers the article.
The negotiations will involve bringing a number of ministries together to work out first what exactly Britain wants. There are issues of trade, transportation and immigration.
What will the new Cabinet look like?
Theresa May has been active in bringing more women to higher ranks in the Conservative Party. But she has so far appointed men to the crucial positions of foreign secretary, Brexit minister and finance minister – which went to former foreign secretary Philip Hammond.
The exception is Amber Rudd, who will take May’s previous position of home secretary.
On Thursday, May also named Justine Greening as the education secretary and Liz Truss as justice secretary, taking over from Michael Gove, who has been sacked. Gove has been a proponent of Brexit and a former ally of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
May’s close friend Lady Catherine Meyer told CNN that May was someone who had always cared about the representation of women in politics.
“I’m sure she will be appointing more women to be close to her and to be members of the Cabinet,” she said.
“She’s not coming in with a group of people she has known since her childhood or with whom she went to school,” she said.
“She doesn’t need this entourage of friends constantly to feel secure.”
Cameron was widely criticized for manning his Cabinet posts with a number of friends from Eton, the elite boys’ school he attended.