Monday’s whirlwind reshuffle, prompted by Braverman’s removal from Government, has seen both new and old faces enter the Ministerial team. Driven by a need to refresh Sunak’s credentials as a moderate Conservative, this latest round of appointments is marked by the promotion of younger, centrist political figures that have long been tipped for high office.
Sunak’s new Government is a clear signal of his desire to promote a more moderate, professional tone that reassures voters in the Lib Dem facing Blue Wall and appeals to the “anti-Corybn” vote GCHQ have been pursuing. It is also a clear charm offensive, with this new suite of fresh-faced Ministers likely to become active spokespeople for the Party in the run up to the General Election as the Conservatives look to broaden their appeal. An appeal he no doubt hopes to double by bringing former moderate Tory Prime Minister David Cameron back into the fold.
Beyond the broad political direction, this move indicates departments across Whitehall saw sweeping changes amongst their Ministerial teams. HM Treasury is no exemption. Whilst Chancellor Jeremy Hunt remains in post, a number of long-standing Treasury Ministers have been reshuffled out of the Treasury only to be replaced by “rising star” candidates close to Sunak. Whilst Gareth Davies MP remains in his post as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins, Andrew Griffiths and John Glen are all moving on from No.11.
So what will these new Ministers bring to the table?
Deep industry expertise!
Notably for the City is the appointment of a familiar face – Bim Afolami MP – to his first Ministerial role as Economic Secretary to the Treasury. With real life experience in financial services before becoming an MP and as the long-serving Chair of the Financial Services and Markets APPG, Afolami is no stranger to the inner workings of the City. It was a clear choice for a Prime Minister trying to combat the charm offensive spearheaded by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.
As frontman of the 2018 Blue Book and champion of “common sense”, he has been vocal on the need for proportionate and sensibly paced regulation, and his open-door policy to City representatives means he’ll hit the ground running in government. With his appointment, we can expect to see a firmer stance on accountability for the regulators, a priority he’s championed from the back benches through the Regulatory Reform Group.
A trusted pair of hands
Laura Trott MP’s promotion from Pensions Minister to Chief Secretary to the Treasury also marks a shoring up of the Treasury ranks with a trusted pair of hands close to Hunt, and with strong ties to new Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Having also been an adviser to Lord Maude during his review into the inner workings of Government, she brings a deep understanding of the machinery of government at a critical time for the Conservative Party ahead of the general election.
Trott will now inherit one of the thorniest of briefs in HM Treasury. From large scale regulatory reform to sizeable infrastructure projects to the unenviable challenge of redirecting HS2 funds, she is set for a high-profile year. Her previous stint on pensions policy could smooth the path for Hunt’s Mansion House reforms, a hallmark policy he wants to see cross over the finish line before voters go to the polls.
A seasoned moderate Minister
Also joining the HM Treasury top team is seasoned Minister Nigel Huddleston MP, who has held four Ministerial briefs since joining the Government front bench in 2020. Having most recently held the International Trade brief and with a pre-election background in business, Huddleston will likely approach his new brief with business sense pragmatism and an eye for detail, as he has been known to do in his previous appointments.
Today’s inflation rate drop comes at a good time for the new Treasury team and will no doubt be welcomed as a positive start for the new cohort. But be in no doubt, the Government needs to demonstrate green shoots of activity in the economy in order to achieve electoral success.
The new faces of Jeremy Hunt’s Treasury team will need to deliver on a suite of regulatory and policy reforms already underway, as well as breathe new life into the economy, in order to deliver for Conservative voters ahead of polling day and sway those that are undecided.