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Boris 'very excited' by shock return to frontline politics

Published 13/07/2016

David Cameron (L) waves outside 10 Downing Street with his family (L-R) his daughter Nancy Gwen, son Arthur Elwen, daughter Florence Rose Endellion and his wife Samantha Cameron AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
David Cameron (L) waves outside 10 Downing Street with his family (L-R) his daughter Nancy Gwen, son Arthur Elwen, daughter Florence Rose Endellion and his wife Samantha Cameron AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks as he leaves Downing Street for the last time on July 13, 2016 (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
David Cameron makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London, with wife Samantha and children Nancy (12) Arthur (10) and Florence (5) Photo credit : Hannah McKay/PA Wire
David Cameron leaves Downing Street for the last time with his wife Samantha Cameron and children Nancy Cameron (C), Arthur Cameron and Florence Cameron (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks as he leaves Downing Street for the last time with his wife Samantha Cameron and children Nancy Cameron, Arthur Cameron and Florence Cameron (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has said he is "very excited" about his return to frontline politics as Theresa May's Foreign Secretary less than two weeks after quitting the battle to become Prime Minister.

Mrs May's first night in No 10 saw a flurry of appointments but the Brexit campaigner's elevation to one of the four Great Offices of State shocked observers.

Mr Johnson was mayor of London for eight years but has no experience of central Government and his only Commons frontbench experience came as a shadow business minister between 2004 and 2007.

And he was mocked by Mrs May on the same day he quit the Tory leadership race for buying now unused water cannon for riot control in London without her permission as home secretary.

Speaking after his appointment, Mr Johnson told BBC News: "Obviously very, very humbled, very, very proud to be offered this chance.

"I think Theresa made a wonderful speech this afternoon about her ambitions for the country and how she saw the Conservative Government taking Britain forward.

"I completely agree with her sentiments and about opportunity, about giving people better life chances.

"Clearly now we have a massive opportunity in this country to make a great success of our relationship with Europe and with the world and I'm very excited to be asked to play a part in that."

The new Prime Minister also appointed Amber Rudd to replace her at the Home Office and ally Philip Hammond becomes Chancellor.

George Osborne, whose career was inextricably linked with Mr Cameron's fortunes, has left the government amid claims he was sacked.

Brexiteers David Davis and Liam Fox were handed brand new Cabinet positions as Brexit Secretary and International Trade Secretary respectively, as Mrs May sought to pull together a team to deliver on the historic vote to leave the EU.

Michael Fallon stayed on as Defence Secretary.

The senior Cabinet appointments came within hours of Mrs May taking office.

In a speech in Downing Street, Britain's second female Prime Minister said that the decisions of her administration would be driven not by the interests of "the privileged few" but those of voters struggling with the pressures of modern life.

"I know you are working around the clock, I know you are doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle," she told voters.

"The Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed Mrs May's focus on helping the less well-off but repeated his party's calls for her to hold a general election.

He backed promises to give workers a say in boardrooms and act against exploitative zero hours contracts, adding: "But most important is for the new administration to abandon the destructive austerity policies which have damaged our economy and undermined living standards for most people.

"Labour will hold her government to account and make the case for a complete change of economic direction. It is vital that negotiations for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, in particular, reflect the broadest political agenda."

He added: "Labour is clear that democratic legitimacy for Theresa May's government can only come from a general election."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron attacked the appointment of Mr Johnson, pointing out that during the referendum campaign he compared the ambitions of the EU with Hitler and "insulted" US president Barack Obama by referring to his "part Kenyan" ancestry.

"I cannot believe that Boris Johnson is now going to be the person to represent Britain abroad," he said.

"Presumably Boris Johnson's first act as Foreign Secretary will be to apologise to the President of the United States, and then the leaders of our European partners.

"At this incredibly important time that will determine Britain's economic and cultural relations with Europe, it is extraordinary that the new Prime Minister has chosen someone whose career is built on making jokes."

Just over an hour after Mrs May's Downing Street speech, Mr Hammond and then Mr Johnson entered No 10, the former London mayor ignoring reporters' questions.

Ms Rudd was next to enter Downing Street followed by Mr Fallon.

Mr Johnson again ignored reporters' questions when he left Downing Street. Instead he just waved as he climbed into a ministerial car and was driven away.

Mr Davis was then followed by Mr Fox, who held the defence post from 2010 but resigned the following year over allegations he had given a close friend access to the Ministry of Defence and allowed him to join official trips overseas.

Earlier, Mrs May sat alongside Mr Cameron as he answered Questions to the Prime Minister for the last time in the House of Commons before the pair went to Buckingham Palace for a ceremonial handover with the Queen.

The outgoing PM was given a standing ovation by Conservative MPs as he said his farewell with the comment "I was the future once" - a self-deprecating reminder of the jibe he directed at Tony Blair as the fresh-faced new Tory leader in 2005.

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