Skip to main content

Former BEIS ministers join cabinet

The cabinet changes have several points of interest, with two former business department (BEIS) ministers joining the cabinet.

Nadim Zahawi becomes education secretary.  Zahawi was a minister at BEIS, responsible for advanced engineering, before taking on a role in charge of vaccine deployment from spring 2020.

He is well-placed to help achieve optimise co-ordination of policy between the Department for Education and BEIS on vocational skills.  The High Value Manufacturing Catapult – which is sponsored by BEIS but has also had skills project funding from DfE – warned recently of a skills crisis in UK manufacturing.  Given the importance of manufacturing to the economy, bolder policy initiatives will be required to address the crisis.

Zahawi, born in Baghdad, came to the UK aged seven.  He is a co-founder of the market research firm YouGov and until 2018  chief strategy officer of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration company.

Liz Truss is promoted from international trade to become foreign secretary.  Truss has led to positioning of UK trade focus towards deals with the Asia Pacific region and the US.  This week she stressed  the need for the UK to move from defence to offence on trade, after what she called nearly 50 years of EU protectionism. 

Truss is succeeded as international trade secretary by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, an outspoken Eurosceptic, she has been the BEIS minister for energy and clean growth for the past nine months.  Clean growth is also a policy focus at the DIT.

Also notable is the promotion of Simon Clarke to chief secretary to the Treasury.  Clarke is also a prominent Eurosceptic and was a supporter of the Leave means Leave campaign which continued after the Brexit referendum.