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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen

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Government reshuffle: all change for the insurance industry?

Client Alerts14/02/2020

As the Prime Minister asserts his authority, the Keoghs market affairs team look at how the latest reshuffle will impact on the insurance industry.

For all of the orchestration and the pre-briefing from government that this was set to be a moderate reshuffle, the headlines from yesterday were set in stone the moment it was announced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to resign. Sajid Javid, one of the only Chancellors in history to never give a Budget, quit over a disagreement about his advisors' positions, and in doing so torpedoed the government’s narrative for yesterday’s ministerial moves.

Reshuffles offer both challenges and opportunities for those looking to engage with government. On the one hand, the appointment of new ministers offers the chance to engage on a clean slate, to meet with government representatives who are new to the job and will undoubtedly have enthusiasm for their portfolio. On the other, years of cultivating personal relationships and fostering a deep understanding of the issues and perspectives faced by industry can be removed at a pen stroke, leaving us to start all over again.

It is perhaps with some relief then that the insurance industry will have looked at the other news stories (that didn’t make splash headlines) from yesterday, which outlined many of the changes which took place across a variety of government departments, and saw limited change in the top tier of relevant ministers.

At the Ministry of Justice, for example, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Robert Buckland was kept in post (no mean feat considering the rate at which his predecessors have come and gone!) and will continue to be ultimately responsible for all aspects of civil justice reform, including future reviews of the personal injury discount rate and the long-trailed reforms to the whiplash regime.

The continuation of his tenure wasn’t without controversy, however, with the Lord Chancellor seemingly doing what the Chancellor wouldn’t and agreeing to the removal of one of his special advisors, Peter Cardwell. This move was indicative of another of yesterday’s main stories, that of a concerted effort from Dominic Cummings, a key member of the Prime Minister’s backroom staff, to reduce the number of advisors Ministers had (and in doing so consolidate power within No.10). Mr Cardwell took to the airwaves this morning to say that there was no animosity between him and the Prime Minister’s office, but the fact remains the Lord Chancellor will carry on his job today without the help of a key ally.

At the time of writing, it was confirmed that Chris Philp (former MoJ minister) has been moved to another junior ministerial role at the Home Office. No word yet on Lord Keen (the minister responsible for the implementation of the Civil Liability Act reforms) but the expectation is that he will remain in post.

In other departments, although the full team at HM Treasury has not been published as of yet, both the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay have experience as Ministers in that department.

With a busy timetable of legislation set to come forward throughout the next year, engagement with the key figures involved is sure to be a priority for the insurance industry. The full list of Junior Ministers is still set to be published, but the early signs are encouraging for those of us hoping for some continuity within government after some turbulent times.