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Brexit campaigners gain in new British cabinet

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Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May showed several of her former cabinet colleagues the door Thursday, including top Brexit campaigner Michael Gove, while fellow "Leave" supporter Boris Johnson was crowned top diplomat.

[LONDON] Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May showed several of her former cabinet colleagues the door Thursday, including top Brexit campaigner Michael Gove, while fellow "Leave" supporter Boris Johnson was crowned top diplomat.

Former justice minister Mr Gove, who ran against Ms May for the Conservative Party leadership, is among a handful of heavyweights to leave the government.

He was replaced by former environment minister Liz Truss.

The biggest casualty of Wednesday's handover of power from David Cameron, Britain's leader of six years, was Cameron loyalist, former finance minister George Osborne.

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Mr Osborne, who riled colleagues with his stark warnings over the risks of Brexit before the vote, was replaced by Philip Hammond, previously the foreign minister.

While Mr Gove and Mr Osborne crashed out, Mr Johnson landed on his feet, being named foreign minister in one of Ms May's first choices, which stunned observers at home and abroad.

Just two weeks ago Mr Johnson had appeared doomed to the political wilderness when he withdrew suddenly from the race to succeed Mr Cameron, despite having been the favourite.

Meanwhile, two arch eurosceptics were put in charge of disentangling Britain from the 28-nation EU and forging new alliances outside the bloc.

David Davis, a former Europe minister, was appointed head of a new Brexit ministry while former defence minister Liam Fox was put in charge of a new international trade department.

Women also made gains under Britain's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher.

Ms May's own interior ministry job went to former energy minister Amber Rudd and outgoing international development minister Justine Greening was promoted to the education job.

Ms Greening is the first openly gay woman to serve in cabinet. She revealed she was in a same-sex relationship during last month's Pride Festival in London.

High-profile Brexit campaigner Priti Patel took Ms Greening's old job while former energy minister Andrea Leadsom, another "Leave" proponent who was Ms May's last rival for leader to throw in the towel on Monday, moved to environment and food.

While significantly overhauling the government Ms May also left some ministers in situ.

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," Health Minister Jeremy Hunt tweeted as he was confirmed in his post, despite being embroiled in a protracted dispute with junior doctors over pay and conditions.

Defence minister Michael Fallon also kept his post.

Ms May, who backed Britain remaining in the EU, has said she is committed to giving effect to the will of the majority that voted to end the 43-year relationship.

She has also pledged to tackle growing inequality and try reverse Britain's industrial decline.

AFP

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