British PM Boris Johnson prioritises continuity in Cabinet after election victory

VIDEO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his first Cabinet appointments since his emphatic election victory and signalled a desire for continuity as he focuses on leaving the European Union on Jan 31.

Nicky Morgan, who said before the election she was standing down as a member of Parliament and leaving politics, will stay on as culture secretary after she was hastily appointed to the unelected House of Lords, Johnson's office said Monday (Dec 16).

Other key positions in the Cabinet, including chancellor of the exchequer, home secretary and foreign secretary, are expected to remain unchanged.

As well as providing stability in the run-up to Brexit, Johnson, who plans a wider reshuffle of his top team after the deadline at the end of next month, will have Morgan by his side to advise on the role of China's Huawei Technologies in UK telecommunications, a thorny issue as Britain seeks trade deals with the rest of the world after leaving the EU.

Johnson, who repeatedly pledged during the campaign to start work quickly on his policy priorities, told a private meeting of new Tory MPs in Westminster on Monday they are in Parliament to "get things done," Flick Drummond, one of the new intake, told PA news.

The prime minister intends to introduce his Brexit Bill to Parliament on Friday, his spokesman, James Slack, told reporters.

With a sizeable Tory majority in the House of Commons, securing a mandate to ratify the divorce deal with Brussels is not expected to be a problem.

BREXIT BILL

The question is how far the government can go with the Bill's passage this week.

Progressing to a second reading - and a vote - will require the backing of Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

 
 
 

The United Kingdom has been mulling whether to allow the Chinese company access to the roll-out of 5G networks and is under pressure from intelligence-sharing allies, including the US, to limit the part it will play on the grounds of security.

Morgan is part of a committee that will make the decision, which will be taken after assessing the balance between maintaining access to the best available technologies and any threat to the UK and other countries.

"I don't want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas," Johnson told a news conference on Dec 4.

"On the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interest. Nor can we prejudice our ability to co-operate with our Five-Eyes security partners and that will be the key criteria that informs our decision."

Johnson also appointed Simon Hart, who voted to Remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum but then set up a parliamentary group to deliver a Brexit deal, as his Welsh secretary.