Britain’s new foreign minister Jeremy Hunt: a remainer who changed his mind over EU ‘arrogance’

Appointment sees a close Theresa May ally replace the maverick Boris Johnson

 Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt  arrives at the Foreign Office after accepting the position of foreign secretary following the resignation of Boris Johnson. Photograph: Simon Dawson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives at the Foreign Office after accepting the position of foreign secretary following the resignation of Boris Johnson. Photograph: Simon Dawson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

 

British prime minister Theresa May appointed Jeremy Hunt as foreign minister last night after predecessor Boris Johnson resigned in protest at the government’s plans for a close trading relationship with the European Union.

The appointment of Hunt, the long-serving health minister, sees a close May ally replace the maverick Johnson, and could alter the Brexit balance of May’s top ministerial team.

While Johnson was one of the most high-profile Brexit campaigners, Hunt backed “Remain” during the 2016 referendum campaign.

However, Hunt told LBC Radio in October 2017 he had changed his mind on the issue, in part due to what he said was disappointing “arrogance” in the EU’s behaviour during negotiations.

Last month, Hunt said it was inappropriate for businesses like Airbus to issue warnings about moving jobs because of Brexit and that they should instead be getting behind May in her push for a good deal on leaving the EU.

Hunt had served as health minister for more than 5½ years, the longest term of any in the history of the state-funded National Health Service, weathering doctors’ strikes, public discontent with funding levels and other challenges.

A few months before being promoted to the health job, Mr

Hunt’s political career was hanging by a thread. The then culture secretary was under intense pressure to resign over his contacts with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire while he was considering its BSkyB takeover bid. But then prime minister David Cameron stood by him.

Matt Hancock replaced Hunt as Health Secretary, while Attorney General Jeremy Wright was appointed as minister of Digital Culture, Media and Sport, Hancock’s old job.