Matt Hancock faces calls to clarify the implications of Brexit on the digital economy in his new role as minister for culture, communications and creative industries.
Matt Hancock: Appointed as minister of state responsible for digital policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – Photo credit: PA
Hancock has overseen government digital transformation in his previous role as Cabinet Office minister, to which he was appointed in May last year.
Incoming prime minister Theresa May has now appointed him to succeed the digital and culture brief in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport from Ed Vaizey, who
moves to the back benches.
Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, tweeted: “Delighted to be minister of state for Digital & Culture. Energised to take up the challenge to make UK tech & cultural centre of the world.”
He added: “Sad to see #Vexit – big tributes to my friend @edvaizey’s amazing work over 6 years to build UK as tech & cultural leader.”
Vaizey returned the compliment, saying on Twitter, “@MattHancockMP brilliant appointment. Knows tech sector well and will strongly support arts. Great news!”
Hancock immediately faced calls for the publication of the government’s digital strategy – which is currently six months overdue.
A report by the parliamentary Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said that the government must use the strategy to set out the implications on the digital economy of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
It said: “The report raises a number of areas of concern, including the impact on UK tech firms employing digitally-skilled EU migrants, the immigration status of such workers and access to the European single digital market for British-based companies.”
It added that ministers should urgently address fears that the UK’s position as a world leader in fintech – companies using technology to make financials services more efficient – is at risk because firms based in Britain may look to relocate to another country to remain inside the EU.
MP Ben Gummer had previously been appointed to replace Hancock at the Cabinet Office role. Gummer has been the Conservative MP for Ipswich since 2010.
At the beginning of July, the Labour Party announced Kelvin Hopkins would become shadow secretary of state for culture media and sport, while deputy leader Tom Watson, took the shadow Cabinet Office brief.