May and the three Brexiteers lead Britain

 
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Boris Johnson joins Theresa May's cabinet as foreign secretary (Source: Getty)

If there were any doubts that the new Prime Minister really meant it when she said “Brexit means Brexit” they were put to bed last night as she appointed three senior Leave campaigners to oversee the process of the UK's departure from the EU, the forging of new global trade deals and the creation of a new foreign policy.

David Davis becomes Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and fellow Leave big-wig Liam Fox becomes Secretary of State for International Trade. Completing the Three Brexiteers is Boris Johnson, the UK's new Foreign Secretary. Davis is a pragmatic and formidable operator, who hasn't wasted his stint on the backbenchers. His energy and intellect have been put to good use, restraining the government on its more illiberal urges and, more recently, he has been a thoughtful and passionate advocate for the Brexit cause.

Read more: Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle: Everything you need to know

Fox is a true Atlanticist, with strong connections in Washington and across the Anglosphere. His experience will be valuable as the British state learns afresh how to go out into the world and trade. It may be that he finds himself with an office in what is now the Business Department but which, according to some in Westminster, could be almost entirely recalibrated towards Fox's new brief – a move described by one minister last night as “entirely sensible.”

As for Johnson, there was plenty of sneering from his critics last night but the truth is that he was a relentless and highly effective global salesman for London. He has also been the personification of a Brexit sentiment founded more on a sense of global opportunity than of Ukip-style nostalgia.

Read more: What to expect from chancellor Philip Hammond

We must also spare a thought for George Osborne, who was sacked last night after six years as Chancellor and has been replaced by seasoned bean-counter Philip Hammond. Osborne was, it seems, just too closely associated with the former government's apocalyptic analysis of Brexit. This is despite his impressive turn in New York on Monday, where he pledged – with what appeared to be genuine passion – that the UK would now be more open to the world and more committed to free trade than ever before. This rallying cry will now be overseen by a bold new team, and they've got their work cut out for them.

Let's hope that the new chancellor picks up Osborne's belatedly discovered zeal for a post-Brexit Britain, and runs with it. Confirming his predecessor's commitment to cutting corporation tax to 15 per cent would be a welcome start.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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