Cameron seeks to unite Conservatives ahead of European battle

UK prime minister David Cameron has sought to unite his party and appease the Eurosceptic wing of the Tories with the appointments of his new cabinet ministers.

Boris Johnson, who has been widely touted as a future party leader, has been appointed to the political cabinet, a small group of Conservative policymakers. He will not run a government department while he completes his last year as Mayor of London.

The role means Johnson will be bound by the convention of collective responsibility, meaning he cannot openly criticise decisions made by Cameron's government.

Eurosceptic Conservatives including John Whittingdale have also been promoted as Cameron seeks to temper opposition from the powerful right wing of his party.

The Conservatives have promised a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU by the end of 2017. The issue is set to be one of the biggest challenges of Cameron's second term, with foreign media outlets warning that a Conservative-majority government spells "bad news" for Europe.

Cameron tweeted that Johnson would be focusing on the final year of his term as mayor of London.

Boris Johnson will be attending my Political Cabinet. As promised, he will devote his attention to his final year as Mayor of London.

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 11, 2015

Whittingdale, who has previously served as Margaret Thatcher's political secretary, has been given the role of culture secretary. His predecessor in the role, Sajid Javid, who was promoted to business secretary, previously said that leaving the European Union could "open up opportunities" for Britain.

Elsewhere, Cameron has put his trust in the old guard and female MPs.

There was no change in the top posts, with Cameron re-appointing George Osborne as chancellor of the exchequer. Philip Hammond, Theresa May and Michael Fallon also retained positions as foreign, home and defence secretaries.

Osborne has also been promoted to first secretary of state, a ceremonial role which affirms his position as Cameron's right-hand man.

There will now be nine women in the cabinet after education secretary Nicky Morgan was joined by Amber Rudd, who replaces ousted Liberal Democrat Ed Davey as energy and climate change secretary.

Liz Truss and Justine Greening retain their roles as secretaries for environment and international development respectively. Theresa Villiers also remains as Northern Ireland secretary.

Tina Stowell, Anna Soubry and Priti Patel were also invited to attend cabinet as leader of the House of Lords, small business minister and employment minister respectively.

Five out of 22 positions in Cameron's last coalition cabinet were occupied by women.

The Conservatives now have 64 female MPs compared to 48 before the election. However, this still equates to less than one in five of total Conservative MPs. In contrast, 41% of Labour's MPs are now female.

Cameron won a resounding political victory last week, with the Conservatives securing 331 seats compared to Labour's 232, giving them a slim majority of five seats.

The cabinet is made up of around 20 ministers and forms the government's policy and decision-making team. The prime minister had the luxury of appointing his entire cabinet from within his own party after sacrificing five seats to coalition partners the Liberal Democrats in the last parliament.

Former education secretary Michael Gove will take charge of Britain's prison service as justice secretary. A former journalist, Gove advocated the reintroduction of the death penalty in the 1990s and will spearhead the Conservatives' battle to repeal the Human Rights Act. Former justice secretary Chris Grayling has been demoted to leader of the House of Commons.

David Mundell, the Conservatives' sole MP in Scotland, was appointed Scottish secretary. Massive gains made by the Scottish National Party, which now has 56 MPs, are likely to pose problems for Cameron's government.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former party leader, is faced with implementing £12 billion of welfare cuts after he was re-appointed as work and pensions secretary. Patrick McLoughlin remained as transport secretary, Jeremy Hunt was given a second term in charge of the NHS and Greg Clark replaced Eric Pickles as communities secretary.

Following its crushing defeat and the resignation of party leader Ed Miliband, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman has announced positions in the shadow cabinet.

Chris Leslie, who only became an MP in the last parliament, replaced Ed Balls as shadow chancellor following the latter's surprise defeat in Morley and Outwood, northern England. Former shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, who lost his seat to a 20-year-old student running for the Scottish National Party, was replaced by party veteran Hilary Benn.