Truss takes over as Brexit minister as PM tries to steady ship after Frost resignation

19 December 2021, 18:17 | Updated: 19 December 2021, 19:02

Liz Truss is the new Brexit minister.
Liz Truss is the new Brexit minister. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Liz Truss will take over as Brexit minister as Boris Johnson desperately seeks to stabilise his government following Lord Frost's resignation.

Lord Frost quit as Brexit minister last night, citing "the current direction of travel" in Mr Johnson's crisis-hit administration.

Foreign secretary Ms Truss is a favourite of the Tory grassroots and is tipped by many as a potential successor to Mr Johnson as prime minister.

She said tonight she is "pleased to be taking on responsibility for the EU negotiations and wider relationship".

Ms Truss – who underwent a transformation from pro-Remain to an avid Brexiteer following the 2016 referendum – will have responsibility for the UK-EU relationship, and lead negotiations to resolve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Lord Frost's departure was described as a "watershed moment" following an extremely damaging couple of months for the PM.

Mr Johnson has been at the heart of scandals surrounding sleaze as well as multiple reports of Christmas parties in government buildings last year when the wider country was under Covid restrictions.

On Friday, the PM was forced to take the blame after the Conservatives lost the North Shropshire by-election. This was a safe Tory seat with a 23,000 majority.

Read more: Frost resignation 'beginning of very rapid end' for Boris Johnson, journalist claims

The PM's appointment of Ms Truss in another high-profile ministerial role will be seen as an attempt to appease backbench Tory MPs who have been questioning his leadership.

One of them, Steve Baker, who once styled himself as a Brexit "hard man", appeared happy tonight. "Congratulations!," he wrote in a tweet to Ms Truss.

But Mr Johnson has a long way to go before he can regain the support of angry Tories.

Boris Johnson remains under huge pressure from his own MPs.
Boris Johnson remains under huge pressure from his own MPs. Picture: Getty

Mr Baker himself was today reported by Sky News to have removed culture secretary Nadine Dorries from a Tory MP WhatsApp group after she defended "hero" Mr Johnson.

Meanwhile, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he hoped to continue negotiations with Ms Truss in the "same constructive spirit".

"My team and I will continue to cooperate with the UK in the same constructive spirit on all important tasks ahead, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland."