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#BorisJohnson - What can the new PM expect on his first day?



Boris Johnson outside No 10 while Foreign SecretaryImage copyright EPA

Boris Johnson is due to become the 55th person to be prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

In charge of a budget of around £800 bilion, the UK's 150,000 troops and the power to press the nuclear button, it is a role that carries supreme responsibility.

Like starting any new job however, a few administrative tasks must be completed before they can get to work.

So what is Mr Johnson facing on the first day in office?

The handover

One unusual aspect about the transition from one prime minister to the next is the speed at which it takes place. The UK is usually without a premier for around one hour.

Gordon Brown and his family leave Downing StreetGordon Brown and his family leave Downing Street in 2010

The outgoing PM, in this case Theresa May, visits the Queen at Buckingham Palace to tender their resignation and recommends someone they believe can command the confidence of the House of Commons. (If the incumbent government has just lost an election, the outgoing PM will recommend the opposition party leader.)

The nominated successor is then summoned to the palace by the Queen's private secretary and then Her Majesty invites them to form her next government in a tradition known as "kissing hands".

The Queen inviting David Cameron to form a government in 2010The Queen inviting David Cameron to form a government in 2010

Just before his appointment, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair was told by a Buckingham Palace official "you don't actually kiss the Queen's hand in the ceremony of kissing hands, you brush them gently with your lips" but it is thought a handshake will suffice.

Addressed as Mr or Ms before entering the Queen's quarters, they leave with the formal title of prime minister thereafter.

Johnson will become the 14th PM to serve her - Winston Churchill was the first.

After meeting the Queen, Tony Blair enters Downing Street for the first timeAfter meeting the Queen, Tony Blair enters Downing Street for the first time

Steps of Downing Street

While the world's media wait back at Downing Street, a much enhanced security convoy and an armoured, bullet-proof Jaguar - the prime minister's official vehicle - is on hand to whisk the new PM to their new home.

Heading straight to the lectern already in position, the new PM makes their first speech in the role. The words used can come to define the philosophy of a premiership.

Theresa May spoke of tackling the "burning injustices", Margaret Thatcher recited part of a prayer and Gordon Brown recounted his old school motto: "I will try my utmost."

Margaret Thatcher says her first words as Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher says her first words as Prime Minister

Meeting the staff

Downing Street staff will be waiting to clap in the latest office holder - their hands still warm from clapping out the predecessor an hour before.

Theresa May is clapped into 10 Downing Street
Theresa May is clapped into 10 Downing Street

Though seemingly an inconsequential moment, it is important to make a good first impression.

"When Tony left we had champagne and then clapped him out. When Gordon arrived we clapped him in and then had coffee upstairs. It set the tone for the premiership," said Theo Bertram, a former adviser to both Blair and Brown.

The briefings

After shaking a few hands, the new PM heads straight to the cabinet room to be briefed by officials for the next few hours.

This includes the cabinet secretary - the UK's top civil servant - whose advice ranges from day-to-day governing to expenses allowances and living arrangements. The new chief is not just changing jobs but moving house at the same time.

There will also be security briefing from the chief of defence staff, the national security adviser and the heads of the intelligence agencies with details of British spies and operations overseas as well as procedure involving Britain's nuclear deterrent.

After a nuclear briefing, the newest occupant of No 10 will write their "letters of last resort" - instructing the chief commander of the four submarines which hold Britain's nuclear arsenal what actions to take if the country is obliterated by a nuclear strike.

Submarine carrying UK's nuclear missilesOne of four submarines that hold the UK's nuclear deterrent

Letters are sealed - with the hope they are never opened - and the previous instructions are destroyed, nobody having read their contents. John Major described writing the letter as "one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do".

The new PM will also have to nominate "nuclear deputies" - two other cabinet members who take charge of the codes in an emergency if the premier is unwell or unable to be reached.

Peppered throughout the day will be calls from other world leaders congratulating the newest member of their club - Barack Obama was said to have phoned David Cameron just 30 minutes after he first entered Downing Street.

David Cameron and Barack Obama playing table tennisDavid Cameron and Barack Obama had a good relationship

Building a team

Though plans may have been in place for some time, the new prime minister now has to appoint a cabinet and ministerial team to head up their government departments.

Crucially, they also will sack incumbent ministers deemed surplus to requirements.

When drafting his cabinet, Gordon Brown reportedly wrote the names in pencil so they could be rubbed out and replaced, such was his deliberation. Whiteboards with stickers is the usual modus operandi.

In the first day key positions such as chancellor, foreign secretary and home secretary will be filled with more junior roles coming later.

Before any announcements, civil servants will be frantically vetting candidates to flag any conflict of interests.

Establishing a backroom team, a chain of command, planning the Queen's Speech with a policy agenda and setting objectives for the first 100 days are all crucial next steps.

And then the hard work and tough decisions in one of the most challenging jobs on earth begin.


UK lawmakers worried about lack of Brexit preparations




Britain’s government may have left it too late for businesses to prepare properly for the end of free movement of goods to and from the European Union, an influential group of lawmakers said on Friday (23 October), writes David Milliken.

The British parliament’s Treasury Committee has written to finance minister Rishi Sunak about their concerns over delays setting up computer systems that allow businesses to handle new customs requirements that come into force on Jan. 1.

“The Committee came away from its evidence session with serious concerns about the UK’s customs preparedness for the end of the Brexit transition period,” committee chair Mel Stride said.

“I’ve asked the Chancellor to respond to our concerns as a matter of urgency,” he added.

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EU Brexit negotiators to extend London visit: Sunday Telegraph




EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is planning to extend his visit to London until Wednesday (28 October) amid cautious optimism over the progress of post-Brexit trade talks with Britain, the Sunday Telegraph reported, writes Stephen Addison.

The European Union negotiating team had been due to return to Brussels on Sunday (25 October).

The paper said the British team would travel to Brussels on Thursday (29 October) for more talks and that next Saturday had effectively become the deadline to decide whether the two sides could reach a deal.

Britain and the EU have made good progress in talks on a last-minute trade deal that would stave off a tumultuous finale to the five-year-old Brexit crisis, but fishing remains the biggest sticking point.

Hopes for an agreement rose last week when Reuters reported that France is preparing its fishing industry for a smaller catch after Brexit.

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Macron lays ground for netting Brexit compromise on fisheries




France is preparing its fishing industry for a smaller catch after Brexit, industry members said, in a sign that President Emmanuel Macron is laying the ground for a delicate compromise to help the European Union strike a trade deal with Britain, write and

The EU and Britain are trying to hammer out an agreement over the next three weeks to avoid damaging $900 billion in annual trade when Britain leaves the bloc’s single market on 1 January 2021. Fisheries is among the biggest obstacles.

Macron has publicly taken a hard line on fisheries, saying France would not accept any Brexit pact that “sacrifices our fishermen”. He rejected London’s demand for annual negotiations on fish quotas in British waters, saying it damages EU industry.

In a first sign of a tentative softening of Paris’ stance, however, Macron said after last week’s summit of EU national leaders dedicated to Brexit that the French industry will no longer be in the same situation as today after year-end.

Privately, his government has gone further, bluntly telling France’s politically influential fishing industry to brace for impact, sources told Reuters, in comments that instantly pushed sterling and British bond yields higher.

France has a total of 20,000 fishermen, on top of 10,000 fish processing jobs. On average in 2011-2015, some 98,000 tonnes of fish were caught in British waters, representing €171 million in turnover and 2,566 direct jobs.

A fourth of France’s catch in the northeastern Atlantic was in British waters, according to a French parliamentary report.

As the EU summit was convening in Brussels last week, Macron’s Europe minister posted pictures from a visit to the French coastal town of Port-en-Bessin.

“One single objective: to defend and protect the interests of fishermen,” Clement Beaune said on Twitter. “We’re fighting...for French fishing.”

But - in previously unreported exchanges - Jerome Vicquelin, a member of local fishing lobby groups who attended the meeting, said the minister’s message was starker when asked off-camera if France would yield.

“I was rather blunt and said: ‘It’s all well and good you came, but I’m worried because... just a 10-15% cut in turnover... would be a disaster over the long term,” Vicquelin said he told the Paris envoys in the wheelhouse of fishing boat aptly called L’Europe.

“They were blunt too. They said it won’t be the same as before. For me it’s clear, they just want to try to limit damages as much as possible,” Vicquelin told Reuters.

Asked to comment on Vicquelin’s account of the meeting, Beaune told Reuters he had told the industry representatives to no longer expect to maintain “the status quo”.

The exchange illustrates France’s twin strategy in the Brexit negotiation - talking tough in public while quietly preparing to fish less in British waters from 2021.

In another example of Paris eyeing a possible compromise, a fisheries source told Reuters separately the French government has already asked the industry what concessions would be acceptable to them.

“They asked us if potentially, really potentially we were ready to make concessions,” said the source, who declined to be named. “They asked us to think about it.”

Many French and other EU vessels now fish in the rich British waters that would be beyond reach if there is no deal. Any agreement would need to fix catch quotas for over a 100 species.

In an early indication of movement on fisheries from London, Britain last month offered a transition period from 2021 to increase its catch gradually rather than overnight.

But the sides remain seas apart on what exactly Britain’s share would be in the end.

Britain says it would become an “independent coastal state” controlling its waters and who fishes there once its transition out of the EU is complete.

EU fishing states including Germany and Ireland support France. But it is Macron, facing presidential elections in 2022, who leads the hardline rhetoric and will be instrumental in striking a fisheries pact.

He has to weigh up the risk of angering a small but thriving and vocal industry, with that of blocking the new Brexit pact, which would lead to tariffs and quotas damaging bilateral trade.

“Macron holds the key,” said an EU diplomat following Brexit. “If France climbs down, we can get a deal.”

Bidding for continued access to the UK fishing waters, the EU is also at odds with London over conditions to keep the bloc’s common market of 450 million consumers open to British companies. The two can only be solved together, if at all.

Another diplomat said EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, this week “wasn’t worried about anything else but fish”.

“He said Macron has to put on the political show as 20% of their fishermen or vessels are ‘jobless’ if they don’t get their quotas,” the person said of a closed-door meeting with Barnier.

“Macron has to fight not to have the fishermen on the streets. That’s why the French are publicly still in full throttle.”

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