British PM Johnson plans big shake-up of government, civil service: Sunday Times

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves after addressing the media outside 10 Downing Street in London on Dec 13, 2019. PHOTO: AP

LONDON (REUTERS) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to run a "revolutionary" government by sacking ministers, merging ministries and replacing civil servants with external experts, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The newspaper on Sunday (Dec 15) cited sources as saying Johnson, who won a commanding majority in Thursday's election, could sack up to a third of his top team of ministers to focus work on providing for traditionally Labour-supporting voters in northern and central England who backed his Conservatives.

It said the Brexit ministry would be abolished on Jan 31 when Johnson has promised that Britain will leave the European Union, and that he would set up a department for borders and immigration separate from the Home Office, or interior ministry, and merge the trade ministry with the business department.

Johnson is expected to carry out only a modest reshuffle of his cabinet in the coming days to replace ministers who stood down in the election but in February, after Brexit, he will make major changes in the team he hopes will deliver on his election promises for domestic reform, the Sunday Times said.

It cited a senior figure as saying: "(The February reshuffle) will be pretty big. It will be finding the people who can do the jobs and not worry about media and short-term things. We're drawing up a very detailed and very revolutionary plan and then we are going to implement it."

A spokesman for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Deputy finance minister Rishi Sunak also declined on Sunday to comment on the report, saying only that there would be an effective government.

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