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New Cabinet and what it means for London

In a momentously fast-paced week in British politics, we have unexpectedly found ourselves with not just a new Prime Minister, but a brand new Cabinet.

London First is busy mapping the new teams, and reflecting on what their previous experience and policy positions might mean for our priority areas.

We’ll be writing to all relevant departments to seek meetings and events in due course, but in the meantime, thought it might be useful to share biographies for some of the new Cabinet members of most interest to the business community.

 

Theresa May, Prime Minister
Campaigned to remain in the EU

Having previously worked for the Bank of England, Mrs May was elected MP for Maidenhead in 1997 and was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet within 2 years.

In 2010 she was appointed to lead the Home Office and was the longest serving Home Secretary for over 100 years. During her time in this role, she has delivered reforms to the Border Force, National Crime Agency, and to the police service, including the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), and continued with radical reforms to the immigration system and the fire services.

She played a soft tone during the referendum campaign, saying the EU was “far from perfect”, though made the case for remain due to reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism. On the issue of immigration, she said leaving the EU would not be “the single bullet” to solve the UK’s immigration issues.

She has since said that she will not invoke Article 50 in 2016, and that there will be no second referendum – “Brexit means Brexit, and we are going to make a success of it”.

On other issues:

  • Planning – She has previously been critical of some aspects of the planning system, but has since then been broadly supportive of local growth deals and the impact the Right to Buy extension has had on her constituency.
  • Devolution – With regards to regional devolution she said she wanted “a plan to help not one, or even two of our great regional cities, but every single one of them”.
  • Housing – In her campaign launch, Mrs May included a call for a ‘proper’ industrial strategy which would include more house building and an increase in Treasury backed bonds for new infrastructure projects.
  • Infrastructure – She has suggested that Treasury-backed project bonds could be used to boost infrastructure, and has been supportive of Crossrail. She has not offered any substantive opinion on the subject of airport expansion but in her role as a MP she has campaigned on the issue of night flying given her constituency’s proximity to Heathrow.
  • Tax – She formerly ruled out tax rises as a measure to counterbalance potential gaps in public spending. She has voted to lower corporation tax and to raise the basic income tax free allowance. She also rejected the notion of a mansion tax.

 

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Campaigned to remain in the EU

Mr Hammond has spent the last two years as Foreign Secretary, but has previously served as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Transport Secretary, during which time London First worked closely with him.

The new Chancellor – who had a career in the private sector before going into politics – has already indicated that he will defend business priorities during Brexit negotiations. At a speech to the British Bankers’ Association earlier this week, he said “access to the single market is crucially important”, and on the issue of final services ‘passporting’ (allowing firms to operate across the EU), he said “I know and understand the importance of passporting …. we will do our bit to get you the certainty you crave”.

 

David Davis, Brexit Secretary
Campaigned to leave the EU

Officially known as ‘Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’, Mr Davis has previously had experience of both home and foreign policy having serving as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Shadow Home Secretary (2003-08).

During the referendum campaign, Mr Davis was a vocal proponent for leaving the EU and said he would “stand beside the devil himself” to leave the EU, believing that it will provide the UK with an opportunity to “take back control” of trade policy.

He has said that his first priority in his new post will be to establish a number of global trade deals to be concluded within 12 to 24 months, and that he will look at restructuring the UK’s regulatory environment to help businesses with exports.

On single market access, Davis has said continued tariff-free access would be the ideal outcome. He believes Article 50 should not be triggered imminently to allow time to negotiate an amicable deal.

 

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary
Campaigned to remain in the EU

Having served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change since May 2015, Ms Rudd has had a swift rise to the top ranks since being elected as an MP in 2010. She was previously an investment banker, venture capitalist, and financial journalist.

She came to prominence as one of the most vocal pro-EU Conservatives during the referendum campaign, but in terms of her new remit, has not been particularly vocal in parliament on policing issues or immigration.

 

Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary
Campaigned to leave the EU

The former Mayor of London needs no introduction, and is well-known to London First.

Despite having previously said, “If we get to this campaign [on the EU], I would be well up for trying to make the positive case for some of the good things that have come from the single market.”, Mr Johnson eventually announced that he would campaign to leave the EU in the referendum – “there should be no confusion between the wonders of Europe, with a political project”. He has since suggested that he would see the UK retain access to the single market.

Without Brexit or international trade in his new remit (led by David Davis and Liam Fox respectively), his new remit will be focussed heavily on diplomacy.

 

Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary
Campaigned to leave the EU

Mr Fox’s previous prominent Government jobs include party Chairman and Defence Secretary.

A long-time Eurosceptic, Mr Fox has said that leaving the EU will not restrict the UK’s ability to trade and that UK’s skilled workforce and efficient tax structure will continue to keep it in a strong position.

He has, however, said that he will not support being in the single market if it involves free movement of labour. He has argued for a more targeted approach to immigration based on the kind of migrants the economy needs.

Justine Greening, Education Secretary
Campaigned to remain in the EU

The first Education Secretary to have attended a comprehensive school, Ms Greening worked as an accountant and in finance management prior to her career in politics. In her new role, she will also have responsibility for FE, apprenticeships, skills, and higher education, which have all moved from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

She entered the Cabinet in 2011 as Secretary of State for Transport, and took up the role of Secretary of State for International Development in September 2012, where she promoted education in disadvantaged countries.

As a West London MP, she is well-known to London First, but remains opposed to the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

 

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary
Campaigned to leave the EU

Former cabinet roles include Justice Secretary and Leader of the Commons, and while in Opposition, also served as Shadow Transport Secretary.

During the referendum campaign, Mr Grayling was a vocal advocate for Britain leaving the EU, citing the UK taking control over its own borders and trade arrangements as two of the main reasons.

With a constituency almost equidistant between Gatwick and Heathrow, he has not publically voiced an opinion on which airport he backs for expansion, nor on HS2 (although he did vote in favour at the third reading of the Bill earlier this year).

He’s an advocate of using the railways to meet growing travel demands, and has been critical of the franchise networks operating out London, deriding their efforts to cram people onto trains.

 

Sajid Javid, Communities and Local Government Secretary
Campaigned to remain in the EU

Sajid Javid was Economic Secretary to the Treasury before being appointed as Culture Secretary and then Business Secretary in May 2015. Although he had previously said he would not be afraid of leaving the EU, he eventually confirmed that we would campaign to remain in the EU, saying that although it was in many ways a failing project, the cost of leaving would be too high.

His BIS role has brought about an interest in devolution, and he has spoken enthusiastically about deals being agreed by government saying it was “not simply devolution; it is a revolution in the way England is governed”

In his maiden speech in 2010, he called for sound public finances, low and simple taxation and light and flexible regulation and was a member of the socially-conservative Cornerstone Group. He focused significantly on cutting business red tape whilst at BIS.

 

Greg Clark, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary
Campaigned to remain in the EU

Mr Clark held various ministerial roles at the Cabinet Office and Treasury before being appointed as Communities Secretary in May 2015.

He campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU based on the benefits of trade to the country, saying “our jobs and our livelihoods depend on businesses large and small selling their wares to other countries”.

While at the DCLG, he played a prominent role in the decisions to both reduce and devolve business rates and he has generally been very supportive of small business in particular.

Contact: Sian Morgan, smorgan@londonfirst.co.uk

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