U.K. Foreign Secretary Steps Down Amid Cabinet Reshuffle

Foreign Secretary William Hague's replacement is a Euroskeptic who could help conservatives reach out to British voters intent on leaving the EU.
Posted at 11:47 AM, Jul 15, 2014

The United Kingdom's top diplomat is stepping down. It's part of a reshuffle that's changing the face of Britain's conservative party ahead of elections next year. (Via Getty Images)

William Hague, who has served as foreign secretary since 2010, offered these comments Tuesday.

HAGUE: "I really want to use this last year in the political frontline to help my party, to help David Cameron win the general election." (Via Sky News)

Tuesday's cabinet changes for Prime Minister David Cameron and his conservative Tory government also saw controversial Education Minister Michael Gove stepping down. Several female cabinet members were introduced.

The Telegraph called it a "cull of middle-aged white men." That's one way to put it. You could also call it a rebranding.

Polls suggest the ruling conservative party needs to both diversify and reach out to Euroskeptics to keep control of government after elections next spring. And reshuffling cabinet is one way to do that. (Via Getty Images)

Much like in the U.S., the U.K.'s conservative party isn't necessarily its most conservative party. Cameron is facing pressure from the country's right wing — the surging U.K. Independence Party that's threatening to take a chunk of next year's vote. And that could be a major reason behind this shakeup.

Philip Hammond, who previously filled the less-notable defense secretary spot, is the man taking Hague's place — and he's a more conservative figure than Hague. Particularly on the U.K.'s ties with the European Union, which he opposes. (Via Al Jazeera, Getty Images)

The left-center Labour Party has capitalized on these rumors in just the last few hours, painting Hammond as fringe and saying, "Britain's foreign policy is now set to be led by a man who has talked about taking us out of the EU." (Via The Wall Street Journal)

The Labour Party's assumption there is that British citizens want to remain in the EU, which isn't a sure bet. 

In fact, a poll last month suggested more want to leave. Only 37 percent said they'd like to remain in the EU. (Via The Guardian)

Cameron realizes that and has promised a referendum on leaving the Union if he's re-elected. A change in the nation's top diplomatic spot might help convince voters he's serious about that. (Via Getty Images)