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Reshuffle at the Department for Business

4th Sep 12 5:55 pm

It’s been a game of musical chairs at the Department for Business, Industry and Skills. So who’s still at BIS, and who is headed for the exit? Here’s our reshuffle rundown

Who is rushing for the exit?

Norman Lamb

Was: Employment Relations

Lamb is on his way to Health, which will cheer him up as he spent four years as LibDem health spokesman in opposition (and many more years as Nick Clegg’s trusted aide, trying to keep his boss’ career in good health). An employment solicitor by training, Lamb should have been ideal at BIS as minister for employment relations. He actually wrote a book on the subject in 1998, so his departure from BIS should give him the chance to write a sequel.

Insider’s Tip: He’s off to keep an eye on new health secretary Jeremy Hunt


Mark Prisk

Was: Small Business

He’s off! Prisk had held the Tories’ Small Business brief since the Peterloo Massacre, or so it seemed. He held the post during the long years in opposition, and he looked pretty damn comfy in the role as minster. But with Grant Shapps being promoted to party chairman, Prisk is replacing him as housing minister.

Insider tip: Prisk goes from one of the sleepiest jobs in politics to one of the toughest. Make or break for him.

Greg Clark

Was: Decentralisation and Cities

Dr. Clark leaves behind two departments (BIS and Local Government) to join the team at the Treasury. The PM would hope that former Beeb man Clark can use this opportunity to put his economics PhD from the LSE to good use.

According to reports, Clark is moving to be “City Minister” at the Treasury. With his departure from being “Cities Minister”, he might hardly notice the difference.  

Insider’s tip: The man every investment banker will be trying to get a hold of.

John Hayes

Was: Skills

New role is Minister of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change. Leaves his job having had some success in supporting education in prisons – a worthy cause if ever there was one.

Insider’s tip: With wind turbines and a third runway at Heathrow to marshall, it’s a tricky promotion for Hayes.


Who are the new kids?

Jo Swinson

New! Employment Relations

The 32-year-old will be the baby of the department. But Swinson can enter BIS with a degree of credibility – she actually worked in the private sector before entering politics, having worked for Ace Visual & Sound Systems in South Yorkshire and then as marketing and PR boss for Viking FM. Not exactly John D Rockefeller and Standard Oil, but we’ll take what we can get. Swinson also has a first-class degree in economics from the LSE.  Her views on business can a little, er, eccentric. Her two obsessions are the excessive packaging of Easter Eggs, and the use of Photoshop by women’s magazines.

Insiders’ Tip: She’s there to cover Vince’s arse.

Michael Fallon

New! Minister for Business

Since Vince Cable can’t be shifted out of the Department for Business, David Cameron has done the next best thing and draft in Mr Reliable himself, Michael Fallon. You will no doubt be familiar with the urbane Mr Fallon – he’s the earnest, softly spoken chap wheeled out to handle cock-ups on Newsnight. As a leading light on the Treasury Select Committee, Fallon’s expertise is bank bailouts, and he’ll be given a long string of titles in his new job to reflect his seniority, but don’t worry, he’s not really there to do them.

Insider’s tip: Fallon and Cable will get on like long lost brothers. Cameron will rue putting them together.

Matthew Hancock

New! Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, shared with Department for Education

Matt Hancock looks like he’ll do well out of the reshuffle. The former Bank of England economist and occasional Londonlovesbusiness.com columnist is joining the ministeral team at BIS. He also co-wrote an analysis on how to reform Britain’s banks, Masters of Nothing.

We can only speculate if he was helped by the fact that he served as chief of staff to chancellor George Osborne.

Insider’s tip: Hard-man Hancock has threatened jail time for naughty bankers.

Nick Boles

New! Minister for Cities and Decentralisation

We rather liked this Tweet: “New planning minister is Nick Boles who’s middle name is Coleridge. Amazingly he is now actually able to decree stately pleasure domes “

Insider tip: Ferocious Tory reformer. The trump card in this BIS reshuffle.

Lord Marland

New! Minister of State

Lord Marland once said that “business has got to be fun”, so his colleagues at BIS will be looking forward to what he can bring to the table. Previously chairman of UK Trade & Investment’s Business Ambassadors Group, he led Britain’s drive for inward investment and to encourage SMEs to “take the plunge” to stimulate growth.

Insider’s Tip: Business veteran to provide firm hand on the tiller.

Who’s staying?

Vince Cable

No change: Secretary of State for Business

The veteran LibDem cabinet minister looks to be sitting safe and un-sackable at the helm of BIS, with the PM no doubt terrified of Cable’s “nuclear” potential to bring the government down (as he told two “constituents” from the Daily Telegraph soon after the 2010 election).

According to a recent poll, the LibDems would jump to 18% in the polls with Nick Clegg replaced by Cable as leader. So it seems the 69 year old Business Secretary may be staying around for a while longer. 

Insider’s tip:  The only reason Cable might leave would be to replace Clegg as Deputy PM

David Willetts

No change: Minister for Universities

David ‘Two-Brains’ Willetts isn’t going anywhere, to widespread howls of outrage from students. The Universities Minister may have thought his card was marked after his tuition fee reforms led to riots, but fortuitiously Nick Clegg took most of the flak. He has a talent for putting his foot in it by making overly intellectual speeches. But now the hard part of Willetts’ job is over, he should be able to give his two-brains a rest.  

Insider’s Tip:  Willetts to be government’s one-man think-tank.

Lord Green

Trade and investment

The former boss of HSBC, Lord Green is the voice of industry in the department. He’s also an ordained Anglican  minister. His job is to help British firms export more, through UKTI, and he seems to enjoy the role. No reason for him to move on, so he stays put.

Insider’s tip: The HSBC money-laundering  scandal may cause some headaches.

Baroness Wilcox

Parliamentary secretary for business, innovation and skills

We’d forgotten about Baroness Wilcox, and for a while so too had David Cameron. The noble lady was responsible for covering all BIS business in the Lords, intellectual property.

Insider’s tip: Providing continuity in an otherwise chaotic department



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