Cabinet reshuffle gives us a quick Gummer replacement

Along with all the other questions the sector will have as we start a new Parliament, a key one has to be the status of digital transformation in the wake of Ben Gummer’s failure to be re-elected

Posted 12 June 2017 at 9:30am by

A whirlwind of events has left us with a new, but weakened, government – and which has a big gap in an important role for our digital future at its heart, fear some observers.

In the wake of last week’s surprise electoral result, where the Tories ended up as the biggest single party in the Commons but without the majority they previously enjoyed, besieged Prime Minister Theresa May has had to perform a quick Cabinet reshuffle to both placate her internal critics but also replace no loner available colleagues.

Most significant among these for the UK IT public sector community was the shock departure from politics of former Cabinet Minister Ben Gummer, who lost his role as MP for his local East Anglian constituency.

Gummer had acquired the digital transformation agenda in central government, and had been a major player in the discussions around the Digital Strategy.

His role has already been filled as part of Sunday’s tweak of May’s Cabinet, with long-time ally and alleged ‘Soft Brexiter’ Damian Green becoming First Secretary of State and Cabinet Office Minister.

However, Green’s job is effectively being May’s deputy, so how much time he’ll be able to devote to the rest of his brief – including leading public sector ICT reform – remains to be seen.

This is especially true in the run up to the Queen’s Speech and preparations for Brexit negotiations with the EU, which are still timetabled for next week.

Jeremy Hunt remains in post at another critical public IT role, that of Secretary of State for Health.