Eurosceptic Hammond appointed UK foreign minister
British Prime Minister David Cameron pushed through his biggest government shake-up since coming to power in 2010, promoting Eurosceptics to senior roles ahead of a national election in May next year, among them former defence minister and prominent Eurosceptic Philip Hammond.
In one surprise development, foreign minister William Hague, Britain's most senior diplomat for the past four years, voluntarily stood down allowing Cameron to appoint Hammond, the defence minister to the influential post.
Hammond's appointment immediately stoked speculation that Cameron, the leader of the ruling Conservative party, was trying to give his part of the coalition government a more Eurosceptic flavour to please a vociferous wing of his own party and to counter an electoral threat from the anti-EU UK Independence Party which won European elections in Britain in May.
The choice of Hammond sends a powerful signal to Britain's European allies. In 2013, he said that if the European Union failed to change and failed to agree new terms for Britain's membership then he would rather leave the bloc.
The 58 year-old official was born in Epping, in Southern England and unlike other Conservative party members he studied at a public school before graduating at Oxford with a Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree.
He volunteered for the Conservative party in the 80s, and was elected for Parliament in 1997, after losing the elections in 1994. “Philip resolved to stand for Parliament when he realised that the Thatcher/Major era would come to an end with much work remaining undone,” according to the Conservative party website.
Since then, the right-wing MP climbed up the ladder within the party and in 2010 he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport, before arriving at the Defence Ministry in 2011.