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Boris Johnson to reveal his top team as Hunt resists demotion

24 July

Boris Johnson will march into 10 Downing Street as the UK's new prime minister before appointing what he claims is a "cabinet for modern Britain".

On what will be an emotional and historic day at Westminster, Theresa May will appear at her final Prime Minister's Questions before heading to Buckingham Palace to resign.
As she leaves Downing Street, she will deliver her final words as PM, in what could be as dramatic a moment as her tearful announcement that she was quitting two months ago.
Then, after he visits the palace to meet the Queen, Mr Johnson will arrive at Number 10 - without his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who accepts she would be a distraction - and give a typically upbeat speech.
He will then set about the task of appointing his cabinet, which senior Westminster sources have told Sky News will be "two-thirds Brexiteers and one-third Remainers", the margin of his victory over Jeremy Hunt.
Sky News has learned that Mr Hunt's future in the cabinet is in serious doubt after a stand-off in which he resisted demotion from foreign secretary and turned down the offer of defence secretary.
If Mr Hunt is moved from the Foreign Office, either the current Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt or Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss, both Brexiteers, could replace him.
During a leadership debate last week Mr Johnson pledged to appoint at least one woman to one of the so-called "great offices of state": the Treasury, Foreign Office and Home Office.
Sky News has also learned that Gavin Williamson, a major Johnson backer, is unhappy. He wants to be education secretary, but has been offered housing, communities and local government.
Mr Johnson's team has revealed that he is expected to appoint a record number of ethnic minority politicians to the cabinet and increase the number of women attending as full cabinet members from the present five.
Priti Patel, who quit as international development secretary over unauthorised talks with the Israeli government, and housing minister Alok Sharma are both expected to be promoted, Mr Johnson's allies revealed.
The Times reports that Ms Patel, a hard line Brexiteer who consistently voted against Mrs May's Brexit deal in the Commons earlier this year, is on course to be made home secretary.
Sajid Javid remains favourite to become chancellor. The current home secretary arrived with Mr Johnson when the new Conservative leader addressed his MPs at a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee.
Mr Johnson's allies have also revealed that the reshuffle will also propel "a host of Tory rising stars" - with promotions likely for Rishi Sunak, Oliver Dowden, Tracey Crouch and Robert Jenrick - "as he looks to recognise talent from across the party".
A source close to the incoming prime minister said: "Boris will build a cabinet showcasing all the talents within the party that truly reflect modern Britain."
One appointment has already been made. Mark Spencer, a burly farmer from Nottinghamshire who is MP for Sherwood, has been appointed chief whip, despite backing Remain in the EU referendum.
Mrs May's long-suffering chief whip, Julian Smith, is not being dropped from the government. He is to become a minister of state who attends cabinet.
Sky News has learned from a senior Westminster source that Mr Johnson will "definitely" address MPs in the Commons on the last day before they head off for a five-week summer recess.
It is understood there was a clash between "parliamentarians" on his team, who wanted him to address the Commons, and his staff and advisers, who wanted his first big speech to be outside Westminster.
But the parliamentarians prevailed and negotiations with Speaker John Bercow are now under way about whether Mr Johnson should make a "speech as new PM" or a conventional Commons statement, on which he could be questioned by Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs.

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Boris Johnson will make the most monumental decision of his life today

24 July

No sooner has the black door closed behind him, shutting out the madness of Downing Street, Boris Johnson will be brought back down to earth in a tradition that humbles even the strongest of egos.

Number 10 staff will line the corridor and clap him in, as they did in reverse an hour before as Theresa May departed.
Despite their personal feelings, the civil service remains steadfastly neutral and loyal to the government of the day.
The cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who currently doubles as the national security adviser, will then show him into the cabinet room - a familiar place for the former foreign secretary.
But today, it will be empty. The chairs around the oval table will be pushed in, except one.
The prime minister's chair, in the centre of the table, will be half out, positioned at an angle, awaiting its new master.
Waiting to brief him will be General Sir Nicholas Carter, the current chief of the defence staff and his service chiefs from the Army, the Navy and the Royal Air Force.
They will bring the new prime minister up to speed on the threats facing the UK - and the position of special forces around the globe.
A full intelligence overview from MI6, MI5 and GCHQ will follow in the coming days.
As a former resident of the Foreign Office across the way, much of this will be familiar to Mr Johnson, but it will still be the point that the true enormity of power sinks in.
For new leaders it is sobering moment. It was said that Tony Blair turned white.
And then comes the crunch.
Within minutes of entering office, Mr Johnson will have to make the most monumental decision of his life and one he hopes will never come to pass: what to do in the event of a nuclear apocalypse.
The Letters of Last Resort are four identical handwritten messages that give instructions to the captain of the nuclear deterrent on what course of action to take in the event the government has been wiped out in a strike.
The prime minister's decision will be based on one of four options:

  • To retaliate
  • To do nothing
  • To put the submarine under allied command, preferably the US or Australia
  • To instruct the submarine captain to use his or her best judgement
Each letter is stored in a safe within the control room of each of the UK's four ballistic submarines. There it will remain for the duration of his premiership.
On a changeover of power, the previous prime minister's letters are removed and destroyed without opening.
Few former prime ministers have ever revealed what they wrote.
Jim Callaghan told a documentary that he would have reluctantly ordered a strike and Jeremy Corbyn has said he would write the letters but could not push the button.
And so within hours, Mr Johnson will have taken his first major decision as prime minister, but should his letter ever need to be opened, it would be the final act of Her Majesty's government.

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Boris Johnson's rising stars: Six politicians set to win a promotion

24 July

Boris Johnson is set to unveil a "cabinet for modern Britain" today - and is expected to increase the numbers of women and ethnic minority ministers in his top team.

As the new prime minister embarks on building his cabinet, here are six MPs who are widely tipped to receive a promotion.
:: Who's set to come in - and come out - of cabinet under Boris Johnson?
Priti Patel, 47
Right-wing, pro-Leave, anti-gay marriage, pro-death penalty and once described as a "modern day Norman Tebbit". A David Cameron A-List candidate, she became MP for Witham in Essex in 2010. After junior ministerial jobs she became the Tories' first Indian cabinet minister when Theresa May appointed her international development secretary in 2016. Forced to resign in 2017 over secret meetings with the Israeli government.
Alok Sharma, 51
A chartered accountant who went into banking before winning Reading West from Labour in 2010. A big supporter of Crossrail, HS2 and Heathrow expansion. Transport secretary, then? Or maybe not? He campaigned for Remain in 2016, and was a Tory vice chairman and junior Foreign Office minister before being appointed housing minister in 2017. Visibly moved in Commons debates on Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
Rishi Sunak, 49
A businessman who inherited William Hague's super-safe Yorkshire Dales seat of Richmond in 2015. His father was a GP and his mother ran a chemist's shop. Educated at Winchester public school and Oxford University before studying at Stanford University in California. He is a junior local government minister, with responsibilities including social care, which Boris Johnson has identified as a priority.
Oliver Dowden, 40
Educated at a comprehensive school, after working for the Conservative research department and then a PR company, he became David Cameron's deputy chief of staff in Downing Street before becoming MP for Hertsmere, once the constituency of Cecil Parkinson, in 2015. He has been a big campaigner against antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. Appointed a junior minister at the Cabinet Office last year.
Tracey Crouch, 44 today
Sports nut, qualified football coach and manager of a girls' team who was minister for sport - and later also "minister for loneliness" - from 2015 until resigning last year in protest at delaying a £2 maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals. Chief of staff for David Davis before winning Chatham and Aylesford from Labour in 2010. Didn't declare if she was Leave of Remain in the 2016 referendum. Anti-fox hunting and badger culling.
Robert Jenrick, 37
Grammar school boy who's one of the youngest ministers in the government. Former solicitor who won the Newark by-election in 2014 after the previous MP Patrick Mercer resigned amid a "cash for questions" furore. Pro-Remain. After being parliamentary aide to Tory ministers Esther McVey, Michael Gove, Liz Truss and Amber Rudd, he was appointed Exchequer Secretary in the Treasury last year.

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Body found in lake as police search for three missing in River Thames

24 July

A body has been found after a swimmer disappeared in a lake in Gloucestershire, as police in London search for three people who have gone missing in the River Thames.

Gloucestershire Police said the body of a man was pulled from the water shortly before 8.50pm and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A police helicopter was scrambled to help look for the missing swimmer at Cotswold Water Park, near Cirencester, on Tuesday afternoon.
The incident came as an urgent search was launched for a swimmer who jumped into an east London dock.
Police were called shortly after 6pm after the man, who is believed to be 22 years old, failed to resurface while swimming with friends at Shadwell Basin in Wapping.
Officers are also searching a stretch of the river at Waterloo Bridge in central London after reports of a person in difficulty in the water at 8.30pm.
Another search is taking place for a man who was seen in the Thames near Kingston High Street, southwest London, on Tuesday evening.
Temperatures in London exceeded 30C (86F) on Tuesday afternoon and the heatwave is expected to continue throughout the week, with a possible 38C (100.4F) on Thursday.
Police in Greater Manchester have urged parents to warn their children of the dangers of open water after officers "dealt with two youngsters" in a river in Bury.
A post on the official police Twitter account for Bury North said: "Parents, during the hot weather and summer holidays, please be aware where your children are and advise them about the dangers of open water.
"Bury police have just dealt with two youngsters in the river. Both are safe and reunited with their parents."
The warning comes less than a month after 12-year-old Shukri Abdi was found drowned in the River Irwell in Bury.

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Justin Fashanu's niece 'disheartened' as Gay Footballer Twitter account is deleted

24 July

Justin Fashanu's niece has told Sky News she is "upset" and "disheartened" after a social media user who claimed he was about to come out as a gay footballer appeared to have deleted his account.

The anonymous Twitter account, known as The Gay Footballer, had gained more than 40,000 followers but it was disabled on Tuesday evening - the day before he had suggested he would reveal his identity.
Sky News has spoken to the purported footballer - who said he was an English player with a Championship club - but could not verify if his claims were true.
In a post shortly before his account was disabled, the Twitter user insisted he was not a hoax but said he was "not strong enough to do this".
Amal Fashanu, whose uncle Justin was Britain's first and only openly gay male professional footballer before he killed himself in 1998, told Sky News: "I'm pretty disheartened. It's actually upsetting. Have we made it that bad - the environment in football - that no one can actually come out?
"I'm just disappointed in a way and I feel kind of upset because if he actually is real and feels like he can't come out, that's really bad.
"That's what really concerns me the most - the fact he could be gay and, actually, has been going through really bad times and now he really feels like he doesn't want to come out."
Fashanu, who made a 2012 documentary about her uncle Justin, questioned whether Twitter was the right environment for a player to reveal their sexuality, with no active professional male footballers in Britain openly gay at present.
She said: "I really hope it doesn't put someone off [from coming out as a gay footballer].
"I really don't think it would put someone off. I don't think it has that power.
"I do believe if you are gay and you are playing football and you're genuinely not having a good time, it kind of beats everything else.
"It's not even a question of time. It's a matter of when and how. I just don't know if the right way would actually be to publicly come out on Twitter before anything else."
Fashanu, who is the daughter of former Wimbledon striker John Fashanu, had previously warned it could be "detrimental" to tackling homophobia in football if The Gay Footballer Twitter account turned out to be a hoax.
In his final posts before the account was disabled, the purported player wrote: "I thought I was stronger. I was wrong.
"Call me all the names under the sun, belittle me and ridicule me, a lot will, and I can't change that, but I'm not strong enough to do this.
"Just remember that I've got feelings, without coming out I can't convince anybody otherwise, but this isn't a hoax. I wouldn't do that."
Football referee Ryan Atkin, the sport's first openly gay professional official in the UK, said the reaction to the prospect of a male footballer coming out as gay had been "fantastic" but speculation about the sexuality of players was "very dangerous".
He told Sky News: "I think we're at a point in our development in sport where it is acceptable to come out.
"What it does demonstrate is that being who are is acceptable in football and across sport.
"The amount of positive support has been fantastic - 99.9% of people have got behind it.
"I do think it's a matter of time before a footballer comes out. I don't think, however, that they would do it via Twitter."
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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