The Independent

Boris Johnson accused of ‘cynical rebranding’ after appointing himself ‘Minister for the Union’

Scottish nationalists have accused Boris Johnson of an act of “cynical rebranding” after he gave himself the title “Minister for the Union”.

Mr Johnson told the first meeting of his new cabinet on Thursday that he was adopting the new appellation, alongside his freshly-acquired designation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.

It is believed that he is the first PM to take on the Minister for the Union title, which aides said was a symbol of his determination to maintain the United Kingdom.

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His spokesman had no details of any extra duties which the title might involve.

Mr Johnson first proposed the new moniker during the Tory leadership campaign.

In his first speech as PM, he hailed the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as the “awesome foursome” and said he wanted to unleash the protective power of every corner of the nation.

 

Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks in Parliament (AP)

But the Scottish National Party’s Westminster deputy leader, Kirsty Blackman MP, said: “Boris Johnson’s disastrous plan to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will, and impose Brexit at any cost, threatens to destroy 100,000 Scottish jobs and cost every person in the country £2,300 a year. 

 ”No amount of cynical rebranding can disguise the fact that Scotland is being completely ignored by Westminster, and our interests are being sidelined by the most extreme, right-wing Tory government since Thatcher.

 ”It’s no wonder polls show a majority of Scots think Boris Johnson will be a ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ prime minister, and want a fresh independence referendum. It’s clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is by becoming an independent European country.”

The PM spoke by phone with the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, on Thursday evening, as well as DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill.

 

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet: who’s in and who’s out

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left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch.

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet: who’s in and who’s out

1/40 In: Esther McVey

Esther McVey appointed housing secretary

AFP/Getty Images

2/40 In: Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson appointed new business and energy secretary

EPA

3/40 In: Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis appointed immigration secretary

Getty Images

4/40 In: James Cleverly

James Cleverly appointed Conservative Party chairman

PA

5/40 In: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg appointed Leader of Commons

AFP/Getty Images

6/40 In: Baroness Evans

Baroness Evans remains Leader of Lords

PA

7/40 In: Julian Smith

Julian Smith appointed Northern Irish secretary

REUTERS

8/40 In: Alister Jack

Alister jack appointed Scottish secretary

PA

9/40 In: Alun Cairns

Alun Cairns remains Welsh secretary

AFP/Getty Images

10/40 In: Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps appointed transport secretary

Getty Images

11/40 In: Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma appointed international development secretary

AFP/Getty Images

12/40 In: Robert Buckland

Robert Buckland appointed justice secretary

Getty Images

13/40 In: Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd remains work and pensions secretary

Getty Images

14/40 In: Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick appointed housing and communities secretary

AFP/Getty Images

15/40 In: Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom appointed business secretary

REUTERS

16/40 In: Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan appointed culture secretary

Getty Images

17/40 In: Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson appointed education secretary

AFP/Getty

18/40 In: Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers appointed environment secretary

AFP/Getty Images

19/40 In: Liz Truss

Liz Truss is appointed international trade secretary

REUTERS

20/40 In: Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace appointed defence secretary

EPA

21/40 In: Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay remains EU secretary

AFP/Getty Images

22/40 In: Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab appointed foreign secretary

AFP/Getty Images

23/40 In: Priti Patel

Priti Patel appointed home secretary

AFP/Getty Images

24/40 In: Michael Gove

Michael Gove given Chandellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

AFP/Getty Images

25/40 In: Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer

AP

26/40 Out: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt sacked as foreign secretary

REUTERS

27/40 In: Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock remains health secretary

AFP/Getty Images

28/40 Out: Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling resigned as transport secretary

Getty Images

29/40 Out: Jeremy Wright

Jeremy Wright sacked as culture secretary

PA

30/40 Out: Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Getty Images

31/40 Out: James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire sacked as housing and communities secretary

REUTERS

32/40 Out: Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mourdaunt sacked as defence secretary

REUTERS

33/40 Out: Liam Fox

Liam Fox sacked as international trade secretary

Getty Images

34/40 Out: Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke sacked as business secretary

PA

35/40 Out: David Mundell

David Mundell sacked as Scottish secretary

Getty Images

36/40 Out: Damien Hinds

Damien Hinds sacked as education secretary

Getty Images

37/40 Out: David Gauke

David Gauke resigned as justice secretary

EPA

38/40 Out: Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart resigned as international development secretary

Getty Images

39/40 Out: David Lidlington

David Lidlington resigned as deputy Prime Minister

PA

40/40 Out: Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer

AFP/Getty Images

1/40 In: Esther McVey

Esther McVey appointed housing secretary

AFP/Getty Images

2/40 In: Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson appointed new business and energy secretary

EPA

3/40 In: Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis appointed immigration secretary

Getty Images

4/40 In: James Cleverly

James Cleverly appointed Conservative Party chairman

PA

5/40 In: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg appointed Leader of Commons

AFP/Getty Images

6/40 In: Baroness Evans

Baroness Evans remains Leader of Lords

PA

7/40 In: Julian Smith

Julian Smith appointed Northern Irish secretary

REUTERS

8/40 In: Alister Jack

Alister jack appointed Scottish secretary

PA

9/40 In: Alun Cairns

Alun Cairns remains Welsh secretary

AFP/Getty Images

10/40 In: Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps appointed transport secretary

Getty Images

11/40 In: Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma appointed international development secretary

AFP/Getty Images

12/40 In: Robert Buckland

Robert Buckland appointed justice secretary

Getty Images

13/40 In: Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd remains work and pensions secretary

Getty Images

14/40 In: Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick appointed housing and communities secretary

AFP/Getty Images

15/40 In: Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom appointed business secretary

REUTERS

16/40 In: Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan appointed culture secretary

Getty Images

17/40 In: Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson appointed education secretary

AFP/Getty

18/40 In: Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers appointed environment secretary

AFP/Getty Images

19/40 In: Liz Truss

Liz Truss is appointed international trade secretary

REUTERS

20/40 In: Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace appointed defence secretary

EPA

21/40 In: Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay remains EU secretary

AFP/Getty Images

22/40 In: Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab appointed foreign secretary

AFP/Getty Images

23/40 In: Priti Patel

Priti Patel appointed home secretary

AFP/Getty Images

24/40 In: Michael Gove

Michael Gove given Chandellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

AFP/Getty Images

25/40 In: Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer

AP

26/40 Out: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt sacked as foreign secretary

REUTERS

27/40 In: Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock remains health secretary

AFP/Getty Images

28/40 Out: Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling resigned as transport secretary

Getty Images

29/40 Out: Jeremy Wright

Jeremy Wright sacked as culture secretary

PA

30/40 Out: Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Getty Images

31/40 Out: James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire sacked as housing and communities secretary

REUTERS

32/40 Out: Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mourdaunt sacked as defence secretary

REUTERS

33/40 Out: Liam Fox

Liam Fox sacked as international trade secretary

Getty Images

34/40 Out: Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke sacked as business secretary

PA

35/40 Out: David Mundell

David Mundell sacked as Scottish secretary

Getty Images

36/40 Out: Damien Hinds

Damien Hinds sacked as education secretary

Getty Images

37/40 Out: David Gauke

David Gauke resigned as justice secretary

EPA

38/40 Out: Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart resigned as international development secretary

Getty Images

39/40 Out: David Lidlington

David Lidlington resigned as deputy Prime Minister

PA

40/40 Out: Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer

AFP/Getty Images

Characterising the talks as “positive”, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said that the PM had set out his intention to be “a leader for the whole United Kingdom” and promote prosperity and growth in all parts of the Union.

A spokesman for Mr Drakeford said the conversation was “mutually respectful” and represented the first opportunity for the Welsh first minister to set out the Cardiff administration’s position on Brexit and the impact it could have on the make-up of the UK

“The FM made it emphatically clear that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for Wales – particularly on our agricultural and manufacturing sectors – and would be opposed by the Welsh Government,” said the spokesman.

“The FM told the prime minister that whilst we would continue to prepare as best we could for a no-deal Brexit, no preparation would ever wipe away the profound damage a no-deal Brexit would have on Wales and the rest of the UK.”

Andrew Woodcock

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