July 24, 2019 / 5:14 PM / a month ago

UK's Hunt quits government after leadership rival Johnson takes office

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Secretary and Conservative Party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday he was quitting the government after new prime minister and recent leadership rival Boris Johnson asked him to take a different ministerial role.

“I would have been honored to carry on my work at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but understand the need for a new PM to choose his team,” Hunt said.

“Now is the time to return to backbenches from where PM will have my full support,” Hunt wrote on Twitter.

A series of ministers from Theresa May’s government have quit or been sacked since Johnson took office earlier on Wednesday vowing to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 regardless of whether he can reach any exit deal.

Reporting by Alistair Smout and David Milliken; editing by Stephen Addison

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