Sajid Javid has been handed the plum post of chancellor in new prime minister Boris Johnson’s government.
The former home secretary was Johnson’s first appointment as he began a dramatic cabinet reshuffle that saw prominent Brexiteers promoted.
Javid will be replaced at the Home Office by hard Brexiteer Priti Patel, returning to the cabinet having been forced to resign in 2017 for holding unofficial and unsanctioned meetings with senior Israeli political figures.
Javid was widely tipped for the post of chancellor but Patel, a longstanding ally of Johnson, will prove to be a more controversial appointment, having previously expressed ultra-right wing views such as backing the death penalty.
Fellow Brexiteer Dominic Raab was appointed foreign secretary to replace Jeremy Hunt, who quit after being offered an inferior post.
Raab was also handed the title of first secretary of state, meaning he will deputise for Johnson when he is on holiday, or away during prime minister’s questions.
Michael Gove, Johnson’s old Vote Leave partner and 2016 leadership race nemesis, was appointed chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, previously held by May’s number two David Lidington.
Gavin Williamson returned as education secretary just weeks after being sacked from the government for allegedly leaking details about Huawei’s involvement in UK 5G infrastructure from a National Security Council meeting.
In the most eye-catching appointment of a dramatic day, arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg – who proved such a thorn in the side of May – entered the government as leader of the Commons.
One of Johnson’s most longstanding supporters, Ben Wallace, was promoted from security minister to defence secretary to replace Penny Mordaunt, who was surprisingly sacked from the cabinet after she backed Hunt in the Tory leadership race.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd kept their jobs on a brutal evening when 17 of his colleagues, including Hunt, Mordaunt, and former trade secretary Liam Fox were sacked or quit the cabinet.
Other high profile departures included the much-criticised former transport secretary Chris Grayling and ex-business secretary Greg Clark, who is opposed to a no-deal Brexit.
Liz Truss, an early backer of Johnson who had been angling for the chancellor job, was handed Fox’s role as international trade secretary.
There were cabinet returns for Nicky Morgan, as culture secretary, and Andrea Leadsom, as business secretary.How Johnson’s Ruthless Reshuffle Confirms Brexit’s Very British Coup
Robert Buckland as justice secretary and Robert Jenrick as housing and local government secretary were among those promoted from junior ministerial ranks,
Backbencher Rishi Sunak was appointed to chief secretary to the Treasury.
Grant Shapps replaced Grayling as transport secretary, after his data wizardry helped Johnson romp into the final two in the Tory leadership campaign.
James Cleverly, the Tory party deputy chairman. has been appointed minister without portfolio and the party chairman.
Independent MP Nick Boles, who served as a Conservative minister under David Cameron, said the party had been taken over by hardliners.
He said: “The hard right has taken over the Conservative party. Thatcherites, libertarians and no-deal Brexiters control it top to bottom. Liberal One Nation Conservatives have been ruthlessly culled.
“Only a few neutered captives are being kept on as window dressing.
“The takeover that started in local constituency parties is now complete. The Brexit Party has won the war without electing a single MP. Boris Johnson isn’t our new prime minister; Nigel Farage is.”
Labour criticised the appointment of “hardline” conservatives in Johnson’s cabinet.
Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “Boris Johnson’s first act as prime minister has been to appoint a cabinet of hardline conservatives who will only represent the privileged few.
“A chancellor who’s consistently called for more tax cuts for big corporations, home and education secretaries who were sacked for breaches of national security and a foreign secretary who doesn’t know the importance of our ports.
“This out-of-touch cabinet pushed for nine years of damaging austerity, while demanding tax cuts for the super-rich and big corporations.
“We need a general election and a Labour government that will bring real change for the many, not the privileged few, which Johnson and his cabinet represent.”
Moderate Tory MPs expressed surprise at the extent to which Johnson wielded the knife.
Many were calling for Hunt to be kept in a senior role after running a widely praised leadership campaign, but he quit as foreign secretary after Johnson tried to offer him another job.
One MP told HuffPost UK the government was “losing some good people”, while another said simply “oh my goodness”.
A Brexiteer MP however said “big change requires big changes”.
Another Tory source meanwhile described Johnson’s reshuffle as “unexpectedly harsh and risky” but questioned whether it was designed to show the EU he was serious about a no-deal Brexit.