Boris Johnson will have to share Chevening, the grace-and-favour home traditionally used by the foreign secretary, with Liam Fox and David Davis – the two other cabinet ministers in charge of implementing Brexit.
The decision suggests Johnson’s role has been stripped back, with key responsibilities of his department handed over to Fox at international trade and Davis, who is in charge of exiting the EU.
It is not the first time Chevening has been shared. During the coalition, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, had joint use of it with the foreign secretary, first William Hague and then Philip Hammond.
A three-way homeshare is unusual, but the house – near Sevenoaks in Kent – has 115 rooms, so it should be possible for them all to stay in the official residence at the same time. In London, Johnson will be able to live at No 1 Carlton Gardens.
Explaining the decision to give Johnson, Davis and Fox joint use of the property, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said this “reflects the fact that all of these secretaries of state will, as part of their work, be needing an opportunity to host foreign visitors and leaders”.
The move also reflects the fact that there is some ambiguity as to whether Davis is more important and influential than Johnson in the Brexit negotiations. Asked about a claim by Davis in the Mail on Sunday that he could pull rank on Johnson and Fox, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said that leaving the EU would be a “collective government effort”.
She also said that the list of cabinet appointments published last week was not a guide to seniority and that the proper cabinet seniority rankings would not become clear until the official government list is published, probably later on Monday afternoon.
May has opted to use the flat in No 11 Downing Street formerly used by David Cameron and his family, which they renovated. She has use of the grace-and-favour mansion of Chequers in Buckinghamshire.
This means Hammond is moving into No 10, where George Osborne and his family used to reside. Hammond has use of the official residence of the chancellor at Dorneywood in Buckinghamshire.
This article was written by Rowena Mason and Andrew Sparrow, for theguardian.com on Monday 18th July 2016 13.19 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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