Meet David Cameron’s new business minister Matthew Hancock – 10 things you need to know
Replacing the outgoing Michael Fallon, here’s 10 things you need to know about the new business minister
Amid high-profile Cabinet switches for ex-education secretary Michael Gove and former defence secretary Philip Hammond was the news Sevenoaks MP and energy, business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon had been promoted to Hammond’s defence brief.
The reshuffle left a hole in the Business, Innovation & Skills department, with prime minister David Cameron looking for a strong Conservative Party voice to work alongside business secretary Vince Cable.
Stepping into the void is West Suffolk MP and former minister of state for skills and enterprise Matthew Hancock.
A relative unknown amongst Tory party heavyweights, his appointment as Vince Cable’s No. 2 is likely to have policy implications for business and enterprise – here are 10 things you should know about the new minister
1. He has a banking and economics background – but little experience of private business
Having studied politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford, Hancock briefly worked at his family’s software company Border Business Systems before quickly moving on to work as an economist at the Bank of England. His short stint at the family business represents his only experience of private enterprise.
2. He’s not the biggest fan of windfarms
In a letter written to David Cameron in 2012, Hancock demanded that subsidies for onshore windfarms should be slashed, arguing that they “destroy our natural environment”. He also opposed the building of new turbines in his Suffolk constituency, saying that they would ruin the look of the area.
3. He posed in front of ‘Sack Cameron’ graffiti
In a photoshoot championing London’s ubiquitous Boris bikes, the incoming minister marked a gaffe when he was photographed on London’s South Bank in front of graffiti which called for David Cameron to be sacked. Luckily for him, his boss seems to have made light of the incident.
4. He has a long association with the PM and Chancellor
Some might regard Hancock’s rapid rise to prominence as a surprise, but it becomes less surprising when you look at his long association with the PM and his right-hand man. Hancock served as George Osborne’s chief of staff before becoming an MP in 2010, advising him on policy matters, and also reportedly helped David Cameron prepare for his weekly PMQ grilling.
5. He’s a fan of apprenticeships
Along with Labour leader Ed Miliband and others, Hancock threw his weight behind Parliament’s first-ever apprentice school The Parliamentary Academy when he became one of the first MPs to take on an apprentice through the scheme. Apprenticeships have been a flagship element in this government’s business policy, and with Hancock at the helm this doesn’t look like changing.
6. He’s been tipped for high office – by himself
In an interview in the Spectator magazine back in 2012, Hancock likened himself to career politicians such as Sir Winston Churchill and William Pitt – who became the youngest PM in history when he took the office aged just 24. He also spoke of his “huge affinity” with Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.
7. He took two months’ paternity leave
In a move that was criticised by some business groups, Hancock caused a stir when he took two months’ paternity leave following the birth of his third child in May 2013. Could this be a sign that he will back further family-friendly business legislation?
8. His voting record shows support for occupational pensions and raising VAT – but he’s strongly against taxing bankers’ bonuses
Hancock was strongly in favour of the new auto-enrolment pension system and measures to crack down on tax avoidance, according to his record on theyworkforyou.com, but strongly opposed taxes on mansions and bank bonuses.
9. He co-authored a book on the financial crash
Along with fellow MP Nadhim Zahawi, Hancock wrote a book entitled ‘Masters of Nothing’, examining the human reasons behind the financial crash of 2008 and how we can avoid it happening again.
10. He’s the only MP to have won a horse race since the First World War
A passionate fan of racing, Hancock carved out his own small slice of history when he won a charity horse race at Newmarket in 2012, becoming the first sitting MP known to have won a horse race since 1918.