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Kate Carr

Kate Carr

Head of Market Affairs

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The Boris Johnson Government: Who’s in and who’s out?

Client Alerts05/08/2019

Following his entry into No.10 Downing Street, new Prime Minister Boris Johnson wasted no time in stamping his authority and carefully picking the Cabinet and Ministers that he will surround himself with.

So, who are the new cast of characters, and what do the appointments reveal about the way in which Mr Johnson is seeking to run the country?

Below, the Keoghs Market Affairs team look at the key new players for the insurance industry:

Ministry of Justice

Robert Buckland QC MP – Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Perhaps the least surprising move of the reshuffle was the resignation of long-time Johnson critic David Gauke from the Cabinet, to be replaced by Robert Buckland.  

No stranger to the legal profession or the legal side of politics, Mr Buckland (the fifth lord chancellor in the last four years) seems to be an appointment which indicates nothing major will change in the Government’s intentions for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Indeed, Mr Buckland has been promoted from within, having previously been a Minister at the MoJ, and is surrounded by an experienced team, all but one of whom have been Ministers in this very department before. With so many important reviews and regulations under the eye of the Ministry of Justice at the moment, it seems the new Prime Minister has opted to keep the ship as steady as possible.   

In addition, Mr Buckland is likely to be a popular appointment. Well-liked and diligent, his time spent as a Minister of State at the MoJ, five years as Solicitor General and decades of experience as a barrister before entering Parliament means that he is likely to come into the role already fully up to speed on the issues that will be in his in tray on day one, and should be open to building relationships and hearing from the industry at an early stage.

The Rt Hon Lord Keen of Elie QC – HM Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokesperson for the Lords

A longstanding stalwart of the Ministry of Justice, Lord Keen will continue to oversee Ministry of Justice business in the House of Lords under the new regime. A QC with a long and distinguished legal career, Lord Keen is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, advising the government on Scottish law, as well as advising previous Secretary of State’s on matters such as: civil law and justice, legal services, global Britain, crown dependencies, and the government’s relationship with the legal profession. Retained in the reshuffle, there is no reason to think that Lord Keen’s advisory role won’t be just as important under the new Lord Chancellor as it was with the previous one.

Lucy Frazer QC MP – Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Another Justice Minister, another QC, and one who will doubtless be a familiar face to the industry. Following a nearly-20-year career as a barrister, Lucy Frazer was elected to the House of Commons in 2015. She was given her first Ministerial position at MoJ in January 2018, and has been there ever since aside from a two-month period as Solicitor General. She returns to the Ministry of Justice as part of Boris Johnson’s Government to take on the Prisons brief.

Edward Argar MP – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice

Another Justice Minister who has been kept in the department following the reshuffle, Edward Argar trod the well-worn path between political consultancy and the House of Commons up to his election in 2015. His current role is the only Ministerial position that he has had during his time in Parliament, and he was appointed to it in 2018.

Wendy Morton MP – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice

A Government Whip before entering the Ministry of Justice, Wendy Morton is taking on her first Ministerial role a little over four years since being elected to Parliament at the 2015 General Election.

Other departments

John Glen – Economic Secretary to the Treasury

With his eighteen months in the job being rather more than the current life expectancy for a Minister, John Glen is an increasingly familiar face for the insurance industry, and will maintain his responsibility for its development following his re-appointment to the role. Widely seen as a strong ally of the industry, Mr Glen took to Twitter to show gratitude for his reappointment, saying “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last 18 months in the role and look forward to keep fighting for the City and for financial inclusion”.  

Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport

Baroness Vere will be keeping the position on the Government payroll at DfT that she was originally appointed to in April, although she does so with seemingly an improved role which encompasses the roads brief.

Although she has a broad portfolio, which includes covering all of the DfT’s business in the House of Lords, the Road Safety Action plan published by government in July will surely be near the top of her inbox.

Although Baroness Vere will be pushing matters forward in the roads and road safety space, fellow Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Nusrat Ghani MP is also a part of this, and will be responding to questions on this topic raised by MPs in the House of Commons on behalf of the Government.

Where are they now?

As well as new appointments, reshuffles are of course marked by members of the Government payroll moving departments or returning to the backbenches. Key figures of note who have been on the move are:

Rt Hon David Gauke MP – backbencher

His opposition to no-deal Brexit and seemingly personal dislike of the new Prime Minister made David Gauke’s impending resignation the worst-kept secret in Westminster. He has now returned to the backbenches and is expected to make mischief, reportedly joining a cross-party group desperate to avoid a no-deal Brexit by any Parliamentary means necessary.

Rory Stewart MP – backbencher

Another former-Cabinet Minister who ruled out serving in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet before it had even been formed, Rory Stewart was Prisons Minister until May this year (when he took up a brief stint as Secretary of State for International Development). He was also the surprise package of the Conservative leadership election, where he made waves with his honest answers and social media-led approach. He is another MP returning to the backbenches, where he is expected to focus on efforts to stop a no deal Brexit.

Michael Ellis MP – Solicitor General

After only two months as Road Safety Minister in the Department for Transport, Michael Ellis MP has been moved to the Attorney General’s Office, where he will take up the Solicitor General post.

Keoghs viewpoint

The prevailing wisdom has been that the new Prime Minister has surrounded himself with a coalition of the like-minded and the vote-winning. Rumours abound of an Autumn General Election and so Mr Johnson clearly feels that this is the best grouping of people to help him win.

Taken as a whole, it was anything but business as usual, with the majority of the Cabinet being replaced and major changes at the Ministerial level. And yet, the Ministry of Justice avoided the sweeping changes that came to many other departments, suggesting that the new regime is happy with the way Ministers have been managing the regulatory changes that are happening currently, and keen for them to continue in the same way.