Theresa May chairs first cabinet meeting and modifies her Brexit message

Written by David Singleton on 19 July 2016 in Diary

Watch: The new-look cabinet did not really embrace the old Tory tradition of banging on the table.

The new prime minister may have spent recent weeks reassuring her Eurosceptic colleagues that “Brexit means Brexit”.

But as the new cabinet met for the first time on Tuesday morning, Theresa May appeared keen to modify the message a little. Just in case the numerous Brexiteers in her cabinet had got the wrong idea.

She told her cabinet colleagues:

"Politics isn’t a game. The decisions that we take around the table affect people’s day to day lives in this country. And we have the challenge of Brexit, and Brexit does mean that, by forging a new role for the United Kingdom in the world.

"But we won’t be a government that is defined just by Brexit. We will also be a government defined by the social reform that we undertake."

As May opted for a sombre and joke-free opening statement, cabinet ministers did their best to look suitably serious.

Except for Boris Johnson who appeared mildly amused throughout May’s remarks at the meeting. Or perhaps the new foreign secretary was just happy to be seated next to the PM. 

After May’s initial statement, defence secretary Michael Fallon did his best to lead a round of banging of the table.

The old Tory tradition was always popular in David Cameron’s day. But how would it go down in the new-look cabinet boasting more state educated ministers than any previous Conservative government?

Alas, there was little effort put in and the noise whimpered out soon after it had began, leaving Amber Rudd and some others looking on sheepishly.

How times change…





Picture by: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire/Press Association Images


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