British PM Boris Johnson Image Credit: Reuters

London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began a post-Brexit shake-up of his top team Thursday by sacking his Northern Ireland minister, despite his role in restoring devolved government to Belfast.

Julian Smith was a surprise casualty of the Conservative leader’s first cabinet reshuffle since his victory in December’s general election and after Britain left the European Union on January 31. Johnson also fired four other senior ministers including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom - a former rival for the Conservative party leadership - in a dramatic cabinet cull on Thursday. After winning a big majority in December’s election, the British prime minister is stamping his authority on his top team to bring in new blood and prepare the UK for life after Brexit.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, and housing minister Esther McVey have also confirmed their dismissals.