UK’s Cameron appoints ally to replace departed minister

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Stephen Crabb becomes new work and pensions secretary after Iain Duncan Smith’s dramatic exit Friday night

LONDON – A close ally of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was announced to replace a senior minister who resigned claiming government policy was disproportionately affecting poorer people.

Stephen Crabb became the new work and pensions secretary Saturday after Iain Duncan Smith dramatically quit the role Friday night.

Duncan Smith, who already publicly disagreed with Cameron’s support of Britain’s EU membership, said he could not remain part of the government after it proposed decreasing welfare support for disabled people while delivering tax reductions for higher-earning taxpayers.

He said the governing Conservatives’ financial plans were designed to benefit higher-earning taxpayers and pensioners – traditionally part of the party’s voter base.

“I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national interest,” he wrote in a resignation letter.

In a reply, Cameron said he was “puzzled and disappointed” by the decision, saying they had agreed to not to proceed with the specific welfare reductions Duncan Smith was objecting to.

New minister Crabb, who like Cameron supports Britain’s EU membership, was previously Welsh Secretary.

Duncan Smith’s resignation was described by The Times on Saturday as “the most aggressive” since Geoffrey Howe left Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1990, spelling the end of her premiership.

His move highlighted the precarious parliamentary position of Cameron’s Conservative Party, which has a House of Commons majority of just 17 seats, making him vulnerable to rebellions from its own members.

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