How Boris’s week in Westminster shapes up
TODAY: Boris Johnson has held the first meeting of his new Cabinet.
The Speaker will be formally elected in the Commons – with Lindsay Hoyle expected to be installed without a vote.
The process of swearing in all 650 MPs – apart from Sinn Fein who don’t take their seats – will begin, and take two days.
THURSDAY: Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s legislative programme.
FRIDAY: The Commons sits formally and the government will put forward the EU Withdrawal Bill for its second reading vote.
Boris Johnson gathered his new ‘people’s Cabinet’ today after sending an emphatic message to Brussels that he will not countenance any further delays to Brexit.
The PM and his top team met in Downing Street after it was revealed that withdrawal legislation is being amended to rule out any extension of the transition period beyond December 2020.
Mr Johnson said the Tory victory in the election was ‘seismic’ and he was determined to lead a ‘people’s government’.
‘The voters of this country have changed this government and our party for the better, and we must repay their trust now to change our country for the better,’ he said.
He added: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
Mr Johnson told ministers they should have ‘no embarrassment about saying we are a people’s government and this is a people’s Cabinet’.
The meeting came after Mr Johnson moved to scotch speculation that he could embrace a softer Brexit in the wake of his election landslide.
His official spokesman said he would insist on a ‘Canada-style free trade agreement with no political alignment’ – abandoning the closer ties planned by Theresa May.
And parliament will lose its veto over the negotiating mandate Mr Johnson will take into next year’s trade talks.
The tough line cast a dampener on the ‘Boris Bounce’ that has seen markets surge in the wake of the Tory landslide.
The Pound lost ground against the US dollar and euro this morning, while the FTSE 100 stalled – reflecting fears that a full trade deal might not be ready in time for the end of the ‘standstill’ period when the UK will still be within EU rules.
Boris Johnson told his Cabinet this morning that the Tory victory in the election was ‘seismic’ and he was determined to lead a ‘people’s government’
Pictured left to right around the table (not all are visible): Housing minister Esther McVey; security minister Brandon Lewis; Tory chairman James Cleverly; Welsh Secretary Simon Hart; Education Secretary Gavin Williamson; Trade Secretary Liz Truss; Health Secretary Matt Hancock; Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill; PM Boris Johnson; Chancellor Sajid Javid; Environment Secretary Therese Coffey; Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick; Transport Secretary Grant Shapps; Scottish Secretary Alister Jack; Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan; Treasury Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak; Chief Whip Mark Spencer; Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg; International Development Secretary Alok Sharma; Leader of the Lords Baroness Evans; Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom; Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay; Brexit minister Michael Gove; Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab; Home Secretary Priti Patel; Defence Secretary Ben Wallace; Justice Secretary Robert Buckland; Attorney General Geoffrey Cox; Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden; Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng; Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry.
There was laughter in the Cabinet meeting this morning as Mr Johnson joked that they ‘might recognise’ the new Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan (pictured centre) – who was meant to be retiring at the election but has now taken a peerage and stayed in government
Earlier, Brexit minister Michael Gove played down the prospects of the UK leaving without a full trade agreement at the end of the transition period.
‘We are going to leave the European Union on 31 January because of the Withdrawal Agreement,’ he told BBC Breakfast.
‘And then the political declaration, which goes alongside the withdrawal agreement, commits both sides to making sure that the follow-up conversations are concluded by the end of 2020.’
Asked if the UK could end up on limited World Trade Organisation terms, he said: ‘No. We are going to make sure we get this deal done in time.’
Pushed on the issue again he said: ‘We will get a deal and the political declaration commits both sides to that.’
Mr Johnson posed with 109 newly-elected Conservative MPs in Parliament last night as the surging Tories flexed their muscles and the Prime Minister started to shape his new administration.
A Downing Street source said the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would ‘legally prohibit the Government from agreeing any extension’ to the transition, which takes effect once the exit legislation is passed.
It means that the transition period – during which free movement and EU laws continue to operate – will definitely end in December 2020.
The agreement struck with the EU left wriggle room on the end date of the implementation phase, and that was reflected in the previous text of the legislation. In part that was because Mr Johnson needed the broadest possible support among MPs to have a hope of getting the Bill through.
Geoffrey Robinson (left) and Esther McVey (right) were among the ministers in Downing Street for Cabinet today
The PM’s maverick aide Dominic Cummings was at work today as the government ramped up its Brexit stance
However, the Tory majority of 80 in the wake of the election means there is no danger that the government will struggle to get its tougher version through.
The move is designed to show Brussels that the PM will not soften his stance when trade talks begin next year.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned that securing a complete deal by next December is unrealistic. EU sources yesterday said only a ‘bare bones’ agreement could be nailed down by then – leaving some sectors facing ‘partial No Deal’ terms.
The latest moves are designed to end speculation in Brussels that, cushioned by his 80-seat majority, Mr Johnson will now turn his back on Eurosceptic MPs and adopt a softer approach to Brexit.
A No 10 source said: ‘Within a couple of hours of the exit poll last week, there were people in Brussels briefing that we would extend the implementation period and go for a high-alignment model.
‘The reality is that the PM wants a Canada-style free trade agreement, with the freedom to diverge where it suits our economy. And he has given a binding commitment on the campaign trail that we are not extending.
‘People in Brussels need to process that and schedule the talks and their expectations accordingly.’
The implementation period is due to run until the end of December 2020. It is designed to secure a smooth switchover, giving business time to prepare.
A loophole negotiated by Mrs May allows the UK to extend the transition period up until the end of December 2022 to allow more time to complete trade talks.
It was retained in Mr Johnson’s deal in the autumn but he has always insisted that he had no intention of using it.
Ministers had pledged to give MPs a vote next summer on whether to extend the transition period. But sources said this provision had been removed from the withdrawal legislation and replaced with a clause specifically ruling out an extension.
Senior Tories are stressing Mr Johnson is not pursuing the kind of ‘high alignment’ deal envisioned by Mrs May, which would have seen the UK follow EU rules on goods in return for frictionless trade.
Instead, he is seeking a comprehensive free trade deal, where both sides keep barriers to trade at a minimum but reserve the right to diverge on regulations in certain sectors.
A No 10 source said: ‘We will determine the areas where we want to align with the EU.
‘There may well be areas where we want to, but it will be our decision.’
Former Brexit secretary David Davis told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: ‘Boris himself does want to diverge.
‘We both resigned from Theresa May’s cabinet because we wanted divergence.’
Mr Davis said he would not expect to see divergence in sectors like the car industry, where global standards operate.
But he said it was vital to break with Brussels in the growth areas such as big data.
A senior EU official said: ‘You could get a partial or basic deal done but it would be hugely damaging to the British economy, because you’ll be leaving on a partial No Deal.
‘Which sectors will obviously depend on what bits we can agree on before December 2020, but it can’t all be done.
‘We have heard Mr Johnson say things before that he hasn’t followed through on, so I think we will wait and see if the transition period is extended.’
Brussels is said to be keen to extend the transition period and is considering offering a discount on the UK’s £10billion annual membership fee as a lure.
The PM met with the cohort of fresh-faced MPs in Westminster Hall in a show of strength to their opponents after the Conservatives sensationally succeeded at redrawing the UK’s political map at the election last week.
The mass of MPs stood behind Mr Johnson showed just how much his fortunes have changed with the PM now in control of 365 seats in the House of Commons and a majority of 80.
He will now be able to deliver on his ‘Get Brexit Done’ mantra and take the UK out of the EU by January 31.
Downing Street today announced that MPs will be asked to vote on the PM’s Brexit deal on Friday so that the process of delivering an orderly departure from Brussels can begin before Christmas and can then be finalised next month.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson tonight moved to shore up his top team as he handed Nicky Morgan a life peerage to allow her to continue as Culture Secretary as he also appointed Simon Hart to be his new Welsh Secretary.
Mrs Morgan stepped down as an MP at the election but Downing Street said this evening she would be made a peer in the House of Lords which will allow her to continue in the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Mr Hart, previously a junior minister at the Cabinet Office, will fill the position vacated by Alun Cairns who resigned at the start of the election campaign over claims he knew a Conservative candidate had sabotaged a rape trial.
The two announcements mean Mr Johnson now has a full slate of secretary of states in his new administration.
The PM has decided not to make any further changes to his Cabinet, keeping his powder dry for a major shake-up after Brexit which could see up to a third of existing ministers axed along with a major overhaul of Whitehall departments.
Mrs Morgan’s elevation to the upper chamber means junior culture ministers will be tasked with representing the government in the House of Commons.
The move by Number 10 to make Mrs Morgan a peer sparked a furious reaction from some Labour MPs who said the decision ‘stinks’ and represents ‘two fingers up to democracy’.
The appointment of Mrs Morgan and Mr Hart came after Mr Johnson vowed to bring back his Brexit divorce deal for MPs to vote on at the end of this week as he looks to hit the ground running after his election victory.
The premier’s new ‘people’s government’ will immediately start work on implementing key campaign pledges on tougher border controls, extra cash for the NHS and a big infrastructure boost for the north of England.
But his key focus will be making sure he is able to ‘get Brexit done’ and he today laid the groundwork for MPs to vote on his EU accord on Friday – the day after the Queen’s Speech.
Mr Johnson insisted during the election campaign that he wanted to make Brexit progress before Christmas and Downing Street has identified Friday as the day to make that happen.
The plan is to re-introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and then ask MPs to vote to give it a second reading with the rest of the legislative stages then taking place in January.
In order for the vote to take place Number 10’s proposed timetable will have to be signed off by new Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle who is expected to be installed when parliament returns tomorrow.
However, the Tories are hopeful Mr Hoyle will back the plan so MPs can vote and then head home for a brief Christmas break before then finishing the passage of the bill next month ahead of the January 31 divorce deadline.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the Speaker.’
The PM met with key ministers and aides in Downing Street today as he got back to work after the Conservatives smashed Labour at the ballot box last week, making the passage of his Brexit deal a formality.
Speaking to reporters outside No10, Chancellor Sajid Javid said: ‘Welcome to the people’s government.’
Mr Johnson welcomed the 109 new Tory MPs to Westminster this afternoon with a message that addressing voters’ concerns now could see the Tories win a record fifth term in 2024 – and rule throughout the 2020s.
A massive reshuffle in February is also expected to coincide with a big shake-up of Whitehall.
Tory sources said last night the PM is considering splitting up the Home Office to create a new Department for Borders and Immigration to deliver on his pledge to cut the number of low-skilled migrants coming to the UK.
The new department will focus on putting in place an Australian-style points-based immigration system and toughening up the UK’s borders – leaving the Home Office to focus on the fight against crime.
A number of other Whitehall departments are also expected to be overhauled to make the government ‘match fit’ for Brexit.
The PM’s top aide Dominic Cummings, who was pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning in one of his now trademark casual outfits, will play a key role in the shake-up of the machinery of government.
It emerged today that Mr Cummings will also take aim at the Ministry of Defence to improve the way in which the UK spends money on its armed forces.
Mr Johnson will also use a £100billion infrastructure fund to reward voters in the Midlands and the North who voted Conservative for the first time.
His strategy of ‘Boosterism’ will involve pumping cash into neglected regions in an attempt to increase opportunity.
In a message to supporters yesterday, he said: ‘Let’s unite this country, let’s spread opportunity to every corner of the UK, with superb education, superb infrastructure and technology. Let’s get this done and move forward.’
On Thursday, he will unveil his Queen’s Speech which will legislate to deliver an extra £34billion funding for the NHS.
His programme will also include a framework for the immigration system, together with new laws to increase the amount that migrants pay to use the NHS.
Other measures will include longer sentences for terrorists and serious criminals, laws to limit the impact of strikes in the public sector and measures to end no-fault evictions for renters – addressing day-to-day concerns of voters.
Commuters using Northern Rail and South West Trains have been hit by damaging strikes this year. A new Minimum Service Agreement Bill would force unions to guarantee a certain level of services – probably 50 per cent – to reduce the impact on commuters.
Speaking ahead of the PM’s meeting with new Tory MPs, a No 10 source said: ‘The seismic events on Thursday returned Conservative MPs in Bolsover, in Blyth and in Bishop Auckland to name but a few.
‘This election and the new generation of MPs that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better.
‘The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public’s trust by getting Brexit done.
‘Our job is to serve the people of this country, and the ‘People’s Government’ will deliver on the people’s priorities.’
Jubiliant Tory MPs are descending on Parliament today after the ‘blue tsunami’ of the election.
Triumphant Conservatives are reporting for duty in Westminster after demolishing Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ of Leave-backing strongholds in the North, Midlands and Wales.
Dehenna Davison – the first Tory ever to represent Bishop Auckland – tweeted a picture of herself with a backpack having been given her induction by Commons staff – joking that was like Paddington Bear.
Others shared photos of their trips to the London and at Parliament, clearly excited to start fulfilling their promises to secure Brexit.
Mr Sunak told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday that the Government’s focus was on delivering Brexit and then ‘levelling up across the United Kingdom, making sure that opportunity is spread’.
Mr Gove told Sky News: ‘We need to make sure that economic opportunity is more equally spread across the whole country and we need to invest in the infrastructure and also the improvement for skills and education necessary in order to make sure that opportunity is more equal.’
New Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison, Stockton South MP Matt Vickers, Darlington MP Peter Gibson, Sedgefield MP Paul Howell and Redcar MP Jacob Young dubbed themselves ‘the Blue Wall’ as they caught the train down to London together from the North East.
Just days after Mr Johnson’s historic landslide, Tory strategists already have their eye on the next election. A senior source said: ‘The first six to 12 months are key. People have got real expectations of change and we have got to show we are delivering it.
‘People need to feel this first term has worked for them, they need to be able to point to things locally that have changed, they need to feel that their lives have got better – otherwise they will not vote for us again. That is not easy and we need to refocus the whole of government to do it.
‘A lot of people are putting their faith in us for the first time and we sure as hell have to make sure we don’t let them down.’
MPs will be sworn in over the next two days ahead of the Queen’s Speech which will be dominated by meeting Mr Johnson’s election pledges. The new programme will also include amendments to the Human Rights Act to prevent ‘vexatious claims’ against British troops, and a new Sentencing Bill to introduce a mandatory minimum 14-year term for adults convicted of serious terrorist offences.
Measures will also be brought forward to guarantee greater funding for schools. And there will be an end to automatic early release for serious violent offenders.
ANDREW PIERCE: The Tories’ latest cohort couldn’t provide a better portrait of contemporary Britain
Among the wave of 109 new Tory MPs who demolished Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, there isn’t a single Old Etonian in sight. Instead, the Tories’ latest cohort couldn’t provide a better portrait of contemporary Britain…
Youngest Tory MP
Sara Britcliffe, 24
Constituency: Hyndburn, majority of 2,951.
Family: Her victory was sweet revenge for her father Peter, who twice tried and failed to win the constituency for the Tories.
Education: Modern languages graduate from Manchester University
Occupation: Used to run a sandwich shop.
Fun fact: The Tories’ youngest MP, at the age of 22 she took a gap year from university to be the youngest Mayoress in the country – when she officiated by the side of her father, a councillor for more than 30 years, in Hyndburn.
The 109 new Tory MPs with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Numbered from 1-11 are Sara Britcliffe, Jonathan Gullis, Chris Loder, Imran Ahmad Khan, Aaron Bell, Mark Fletcher, Elliot Colburn, Lee Anderson, Antony Higginbotham, Dehenna Davison and Virginia Crosbie
Trade union rep
Jonathan Gullis, 29
Constituency: Stoke-on-Trent North, majority of 6,286. First Tory MP since the constituency was created in 1950.
Family: Father was a cleaner at the local school who went to night school and ended up at Durham University gaining a Masters degree. His grandfather was a lorry driver.
Education: Local state school. Joined Tory Party aged 18.
Occupation: Birmingham secondary school teacher. Unusually for a Tory, he is the school’s trade union representative.
Fun fact: Hours after being made an MP, he rushed back to the classroom to teach his pupils.
Former rail guard
Chris Loder, 38
Constituency: West Dorset, majority of 14,106 and a swing of 4.5 per cent.
Family: Grew up on a fourth-generation family farm in Dorset where he still lives.
Education: Attended the local state comprehensive and never went to university.
Occupation: Worked as a train guard and eventually became head of new trains at South Western Railway.
A member of the RMT union, he crossed a picket line last month to try to keep South Western trains running.
Fun fact: Is a church organist and church bell ringer.
The mass of MPs stood behind Mr Johnson showed just how much his fortunes have changed with the PM now in control of 365 seats in the House of Commons
The openly gay Muslim
Imran Ahmad Khan, 47
Constituency: Wakefield, majority of 3,358. The first time the constituency has voted Tory since 1931.
Family: His father was a doctor, his mother an NHS nurse. Made history as the first openly gay Muslim elected politician in the world.
Education: Privately educated, he studied Russian at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow and War Studies at King’s College London.
Occupation: Worked for the United Nations, advertising agency M&C Saatchi and as a counter-terrorism expert.
Fun fact: As a late replacement candidate, he was accused by Labour of being parachuted into Wakefield. The local lad’s response? By literally parachuting in.
TV quiz show winner
Aaron Bell, 39
Constituency: Newcastle-under-Lyme, majority of 7,446. First time Labour has relinquished the seat in more than 130 years.
Family: Married with three children.
Education: St Olave’s grammar school, Kent. Then studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford.
Occupation: Business analyst who launched a financial technology firm.
Fun fact: He is a brainiac who has appeared on various TV quiz shows and walked away with £25,000 on Deal or No Deal. Reached the University Challenge final in 2001.
The LGBT activist
Mark Fletcher, 34
Constituency: Bolsover, majority of 5,299. Defeated Dennis Skinner, the so-called Beast of Bolsover, 87, the MP since 1970.
Family: Grew up in Doncaster. Lived on his own after his mother died when he was 17. Outspoken LGBT activist who met his partner at university.
Education: Went to a local state school and was president of the Cambridge University Students’ Union for two years.
Occupation: Worked for a private health company and as chief adviser to Lord Popat of Harrow.
Fun fact: Helped write a book called: ‘A British Subject. How to make it as an immigrant in the best country in the world.’
The PM met with the cohort of fresh-faced MPs in Westminster Hall in a show of strength to their opponents after last week’s election landslide
Campaigning since 13
Elliot Colburn, 27
Constituency: Carshalton and Wallington, majority of 629.
Family: Brought up by working class parents in the area. After enduring homophobic abuse during the campaign, he delivered a smacker of a kiss on the lips of his partner Jed at the count.
Education: Local comprehensive and studied politics at Aberystwyth University. Knocked on his first door for the Tories aged 13.
Occupation: Public affairs officer for the NHS.
Fun fact: His partner edits a poultry magazine and they regularly take their own poultry to shows.
Joined miners’ strike
Lee Anderson, 52
Constituency: Ashfield, majority of 5,733. The second time the constituency has ever had a Tory MP.
Family: Son of a coal miner. His wife Sinead was subjected to abuse by hard-Left activists, despite undergoing a double lung transplant on the NHS.
Education. Attended the local state school.
Occupation: A miner for 12 years, he was a member of Arthur Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers and went on strike in 1984. Later worked in homeless hostels before becoming office manager for the Labour MP Gloria De Piero. Frustrated with Labour’s Brexit stance, he quit last year and joined the Tories.
Fun fact: Caught staging a doorstep encounter while on the campaign trail with Michael Crick for Mail Plus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses newly-elected Conservative MPs at the Houses of Parliament today after winning his huge majority
Trained in army cadets
Antony Higginbotham, 30
Constituency: Burnley, majority of 1,352. First Tory MP in the town since 1910.
Family: Grandmother was a nurse and his mother was a trade union representative. Father held two jobs to try to make ends meet. Single and openly gay.
Education: Local state school and the first of his family to go to university. Studied politics at Hull.
Occupation: Worked in the NHS and then joined NatWest to help customers prepare for life after the EU.
Fun fact: Claims his political outlook was inspired by his time in Lancashire’s Army Cadet Force.
Father killed in a pub fight
Dehenna Davison, 26
Constituency: Bishop Auckland, majority of 7,962. First time seat has been represented by the Tories since it was created in 1885.
Family: Grew up on a council estate in Sheffield. Her father, a stone mason, was killed by a blow to the head in a pub fight when she was 13. She is separated from her husband John Fareham, who is 35 years her senior. They appeared last year in a Channel 4 documentary, Bride and Prejudice, about couples overcoming opposition from family and friends to their marriage.
Education: Privately educated at Sheffield High School after winning a scholarship. Studied politics at Hull University.
Occupation: Former computer game shop worker who spent a year working for Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Fun fact: Has a tattoo of her dog mocked up as a Harry Potter character.
The dolphin trainer
Virginia Crosbie, 50
Constituency: Ynys Mon, majority of 1,968. First Tory in the constituency since 1979.
Family: Grandfather was a coal miner in Merthyr Tydfil. Mother worked in a jam factory in Essex. Married with three children.
Education: Colchester County High, a grammar school, becoming first person in her family to take A-levels. Studied microbiology at Queen Mary, University of London, and management at the University of Westminster.
Occupation: Worked for a pharmaceutical company before moving to HSBC. Retrained as a maths teacher working with young adults in north London.
Fun fact: Worked as a dolphin trainer at Woburn Safari Park with the presenter Terry Nutkins on the BBC’s Animal Magic show.