Indian-origin MP Rishi Sunak, who backed Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership contest, is tipped for promotion to the cabinet, according to feverish speculation taking place in London on Monday about who will get what job in a Boris Johnson government.
Sunak, 39, who is parliamentary under-secretary of state at the ministry of housing, might be made chief secretary to the treasury.
Another Indian, Priti Patel, 47, is expected to make a return to government, possibly as the international trade secretary. It is also being suggested she could be appointed Conservative Party chairman and there was even one report that Boris wants to make her chancellor of the exchequer although this seems unlikely.
Yet another Indian ally of Boris, Alok Sharma, 51, minister of state for employment at the department of work and pensions, is also tipped for a bigger job. He could return to the housing and communities department as secretary of state.
It is being claimed that there will be a significant ethnic minority representation in Boris’s government. For example, the smart money is on Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid either remaining home secretary or becoming chancellor.
The contest between Boris and the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt closed at 5pm (9.30 IST) on Monday, with the result supposed to be declared late on Tuesday morning.
Boris, expected to win, gave a vision of the future in his weekly Monday column in the Daily Telegraph: “If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of friction-less trade at the Northern Irish border.
“It is time this country recovered some of its can-do spirit. We can come out of the EU on October 31, and yes, we certainly have the technology to do so. What we need now is the will and the drive.”
As Prime Minister, Boris’s salary will be £150,402 — a drop from the £275,000 he gets from the Daily Telegraph alone for his columns which he knocks off in 45 minutes (“when I am taking my time”).
He had to give up the column when he became foreign secretary and will almost certainly have to do the same as Prime Minister. He is also having to put his biography of Shakespeare on hold.
After three years in the top job, Theresa May will go to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to tender her resignation to the Queen after taking her last Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.
Boris will follow her to the palace and accept the Queen’s request to form a government.
The 55-year-old will enter 10, Downing Street, at 5pm — alone. It is understood that his 31-year-old girlfriend Carrie Symonds will move in with him but not pose alongside Boris outside the famous shiny black door of 10, Downing Street, for the formal photographs that are taken when a new Prime Minister takes up office.
It is traditionally with the new PM’s wife or husband.
Boris has also asked the civil service for a new bed and some personal furniture because his estranged wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he is not yet divorced, has apparently kept the belongings in their London property.
As the new Prime Minister, Boris is said to be planning a wholesale clear out of May’s cabinet. Some are jumping before they are pushed.
One of Boris’s greatest critics, Sir Alan Duncan, resigned as foreign office minister on Monday.
“The UK does so much good in the world,” he said in his resignation letter. “It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit.”
The most serious opposition to Boris and his possible no deal Brexit is likely to come from Philip Hammond who has announced he will resign as chancellor just before May goes to see the Queen to tender her resignation.
Asked at the weekend in a BBC TV interview whether he expected to be sacked, Hammond replied: “No, I’m sure I’m not going to be sacked because I’m going to resign before we get to that point.
“Assuming that Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister, I understand that his conditions for serving in his government would include accepting a no-deal exit on the 31st October, and it’s not something that I could ever sign up to.”
Hunt has apparently indicated he does not want to be demoted from foreign secretary, thereby earning a rebuke from Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Boris supporter and hardline Brexiteer.
“I think that Jeremy Hunt should accept whatever he is offered,” he advised. “Previously Jeremy Hunt has indicated that he will only serve in the highest offices – I think that’s a vanity. Grandstanding and saying, ‘If I’m not foreign secretary I won’t be anything,’ is not the right approach to take.”
But there were warnings for Boris from former Labour prime ministers.
Writing in The Times, Tony Blair said another referendum was the best outcome for Boris. “Even before he becomes prime minister this week, Boris Johnson has boxed himself in to a no-deal Brexit. If he doesn’t back down from his stated negotiating position, he will fail.”
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown expressed the fear that Boris’s Brexit at any cost approach might break the United Kingdom since Scotland had voted to remain in the European Union.
He said Boris may be fated to be remembered by history “not as the 55th Prime Minister of the UK but as the first prime minister of England.
“The message to Boris Johnson is plain and urgent: don’t push Britain off a cliff on October 31.”