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British PM hires brother of rival Boris Johnson

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British Prime Minister David Cameron caused a stir on Thursday by appointing the brother of one of his biggest rivals, London Mayor Boris Johnson, as his head of policy.

Jo Johnson, a 41-year-old lawmaker in Cameron's Conservative Party, will lead the policy unit at Downing Street as part of his new role as a junior minister in the Cabinet Office ministry, which coordinates government activities.

His flamboyant older brother Boris, one of the best known faces in British politics, is considered a potential future rival for Cameron's leadership of the centre-right party.

Perhaps tellingly, the mayor said of his brother's promotion: "Great there is finally a Johnson in number 10.

"Jo will be superb."

Known simply as Boris to many Londoners, the 48-year-old admitted last month that he would like to "have a crack" at being prime minister, but insisted: "It's not going to happen."

Media said the appointment of Jo Johnson, a former journalist who bears a strong resemblance to his brother with a similar shock of blond hair, was aimed at bringing Cameron closer to the disgruntled right wing of his party.

A Conservative source told The Daily Telegraph newspaper that Jo Johnson would help to create a more "Thatcher-style" policy unit, in reference to the late prime minister Margaret Thatcher who was a heroine to many Conservative lawmakers.

Traditional right-wing Conservative backbenchers feel Cameron is out of touch with their concerns, and he has faced several parliamentary rebellions in recent months on issues ranging from the European Union to gay marriage.

The Times newspaper reported that in a further bid to reach out, Cameron has written to Conservatives who paid tribute to Thatcher in a special parliamentary session following her death on April 8.

Jo Johnson was elected in 2010 as member of parliament for the southeast London suburb of Orpington, and is regarded as a rising star in the Conservative Party.

Like his brother and Cameron, he was educated at the elite Eton boarding school and Oxford University.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/british-pm-hires-brother-rival-boris-johnson