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Hunt to F O as Boris does likewise

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

The most surprising appointment of Teresa May’s first cabinet as Prime Minister was Boris Johnson. It was one of those things that, at the time, many people said would either prove to be a stroke of genius or go disastrously wrong.

The art of politics is ever the art of compromise but it seems that for some, Mrs May’s plan to appease everyone (henceforth known, by me, anyway, as the Chequers Compromise), was a step too far. And so it has come to pass that the floppy flaxen-haired one has followed David Davis out of the Br-exit (see what I did there?).

I’ve given up trying to get my head round everything that the Chequers Compromise entails. Like so many political deals, it seem to be too much of one thing for some and not enough of another for others. It’s definitely not what I voted for in June 2016, though as a staunch Remainer, you wouldn’t expect it to be. However, neither is it what most Leavers that I know voted for either. I suspect there are better political minds than mine in this industry who are, as we speak, trying to make sense of it (BMF I’m looking at you).

Surely, any post-Brexit deal needs to ensure that UK companies who import goods from countries who remain in the EU are not penalised by tariffs, taxes and red-tape paperwork to the point that they can no longer compete in the market. It needs to ensure that British companies who export goods to countries who remain in the EU are not penalised by tariffs, taxes and red-tape paperwork to the point that they can no longer compete in the market. It needs to ensure that all those companies can still operate and compete in wider markets than just the EU ones.

Does the Chequers Compromise do this? Doesn’t sound like it. Quite apart from the fact that Brussels et al will have to agree to it and they don’t appear to be in any hurry to do so. To be honest, I half expected May to come out of Chequers waving a piece of paper in her hand claiming “trade in our time”. The last time something like that happened it didn’t, I recall, end so well.

So, with Boris out of the picture, Jeremy Hunt has been shunted to the Foreign Office. I’m not sure if that’s a move up or a move down – he’ll have to meet Trump for a start, but at least he’ll be able to look him in the eye, being about five inches taller than Boris. On the plus side, as a friend pointed out this morning, Boris may have inadvertently saved the NHS from the meddling Hunt.

Matthew Hancock hops to Health from Culture to be replaced by Jeremy Wright (are you keeping up at the back?) and David Davis, the man whose shock (maybe) resignation kicked all this off is replaced as Brexit Secretary by Dominic Raab; that Housing Minister revolving door is spinning faster than a candy floss machine at the school Summer fete. We’ll have to see how long Kit Malthouse lasts.

Still, to put things in perspective: as I write this (on Tuesday morning), nine boys have thus far been safely rescued from that cave in Thailand. Some heroes wear capes; others wear scuba equipment. RIP Saman Gunan, the Thai Navy Seal who died making sure the boys stuck in the cave had enough oxygen so that today’s rescue would even be possible.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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