UK prime minister Teresa May has appointed Jo Johnson as the country’s new shipping minister, following the abrupt resignation of John Hayes (pictured above) this morning.

In a handwritten note to Mrs May, Mr Hayes said he was resigning after “18 years’ continuous service on the front bench”, and would focus his efforts on social mobility and expanding Conservative Party membership.

Downing St press office confirmed Mr Johnson would also serve as minister for London – secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling will remain in his post.

Mr Hayes’ departure is likely to come as a surprise to the UK shipping industry, given the relatively high regard in which he is held, and there was little indication in industry circles that he was unhappy in the role.

As recently as mid-December, in a speech to the UK Major Ports Group, he joked that no other politician had been named shipping minister as often as he had.

“Three times I’ve been appointed to this job – I don’t think anyone can beat that.” he told the assembled executives.

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