After Ben Gummer’s exit, new Cabinet Office minister is Damian Green

Under-fire prime minister Theresa May brings DWP secretary into the Cabinet Office – but will her administration have the time for digital?

Damian Green, a close ally of embattled prime minister Theresa May, has been appointed as the new minister for the Cabinet Office, taking on responsibility for government digital.

Green’s predecessor Ben Gummer – who oversaw the launch of the Government Transformation Strategy – unexpectedly lost his Ipswich seat in last week’s election. The shock vote saw May lose her overall majority and she has been forced to turn to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to govern.

In a cabinet reshuffle carried out over the weekend, May named Green as Gummer’s successor, and also handed him the role of first secretary of state, a move which effectively makes him deputy prime minister in all but name.

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Green served as a Home Office minister under May for more than four years, and was rewarded with a seat at the cabinet table last year, when he became the work and pensions secretary.

He is the third new minister for the Cabinet Office since 2010, with no minister since matching the five year tenure of Francis Maude, who oversaw the creation of the Government Digital Service and pushed for the end of multi-million pound legacy IT deals in Whitehall.

Despite Green’s nominal role as minister with responsibility for government digital, data, and cyber security, it remains to be seen whether an administration facing both a domestic fight for survival and the looming Brexit talks will choose to focus on transformation. Earlier this month, the Institute for Government think tank urged the creation of a separate minister for digital government to avoid the issue slipping down the agenda.

Commenting on the election result, industry body Tech UK said decisions taken by the new administration will “shape the UK for generations to come”. 

“The new Parliament must come together to face the significant challenges not only of Brexit, but rapid global digitisation. To thrive the UK needs to be at the forefront of countries that are inventing the future, not just by leading in innovation and the use of new technologies, but by enabling the economy to adapt and people to flourish. 

“This will require some big thinking and some bold policy making. It is vital that the UK remains an open and dynamic economy in which tech businesses of all sizes can be the engine of inclusive growth.”



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