Greg Hands returns to trade amid reshuffle as familiar faces take roles

Tue 14 Nov 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Trade News

Downing street

Yesterday’s (13 November) cabinet reshuffle saw Greg Hands return to the Department of Business and Trade (DBT), while Kemi Badenoch remained secretary of state.

The relative consistency at DBT contrasted with the flurry of high-profile cabinet changes, which included David Cameron’s appointment to foreign secretary.

Hands’ return

Hands, who has served as MP for Chelsea and Fulham since 2010, was removed from the role of Conservative Party Chairman following several significant by-election defeats. These included substantial 20+ point swings from Tory to Labour in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.

His replacement, Richard Holden, was part of the 2019 intake of Conservative MPs, taking the “red wall” seat of North West Durham.

Hands’ move to minister of state within DBT, formerly Department of International Trade, will be the fourth time he’s served in the role.

Familiar faces

Even as reshuffle rumours spread through Westminster, David Cameron’s return to front bench politics was wholly unexpected.

The former prime minister has been asked to serve as foreign secretary, as reported yesterday by the Daily Update.

His return to the political spotlight after his 2016 post-Brexit referendum departure was facilitated by the granting of a life peerage, meaning that he will sit in the House of Lords, rather than the Commons.

Other returnees include former leadership hopeful Andrea Leadsom, who will join the Department of Health and Social Care as a junior minister.

Esther McVey, now a GB News presenter alongside her role as MP for Tatton, has been appointed minister without portfolio. Combined with Leadsom’s promotion has been seen my many as a way for Sunak to curry favour with the right of the Conservative part after sacking Braverman.

High-profile roles

High-profile appointments include Victoria Atkins’ promotion to health secretary.

The MP for Louth and Horncastle and former financial secretary to the Treasury replaced Steve Barclay, who’s taking on the role of environment secretary.

It’s thought that disagreements between Barclay and prime minister Rishi Sunak over how to handle ongoing NHS strikes contributed to the demotion.

Former Defra chief Therese Coffey resigned from the post, writing that it was “the right time” in a letter to Sunak.