Appointments, Policy & regulation

Reshuffle maintains energy department status quo but brings new environment secretary

Prime minister Theresa May has delivered a cabinet reshuffle in the wake of last week’s general election.

The switch about in senior departmental positions has brought former Tory leadership rival Michael Gove back to the front bench as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.

Gove, who had a controversial run as education secretary under David Cameron’s premiership, ousts Andrea Leasom who also contested the Conservative party leadership following the Brexit referendum last year. Leadsom moves on to become Leader of the House of Commons.

May’s reshuffle was less extensive than some had anticipated in the run up to last Thursday’s election result, which saw the Conservative party lose its parliamentary majority.

Greg Clark, who was re-elected as MP for the constituency of Tunbridge Wells, was reappointed as secretary of state for the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS).

Clark had been tipped before the election for possible promotion to the role of chancellor of the exchequer.

However, the day after the election, May announced that five senior Cabinet ministers would retain their positions, including Philip Hammond the incumbent chancellor.

Hammond reportedly demanded a bigger say over the government’s Brexit negotiation strategy as a condition for staying on as chancellor. Pundits have said his successful insistence on this is a sign of May’s weakened authority over the Cabinet following her failure to deliver an increased majority for the Conservative party.

As BEIS secretary, Clark will be responsible for delivering a manifesto commitment to cap energy prices in the UK.

Clark told Utility Week exclusively on election night that the proposed price regulation will take the form of an “absolute cap”.

He is also expected to continue work on the government’s industrial strategy, on which initial consultation had concluded the day before May’s snap general election announcement.

There have yet to be announcements on whether Nick Hurd and Jesse Norman, ministers of state for energy and climate change respectively, will remain in their current posts after both were successfully re-elected last week. 

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