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CaSE responds to Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister

23 Jul 2019

After winning the Conservative leadership election, Boris Johnson has been appointed Prime Minister

Commenting on the result, CaSE Executive Director Dr Sarah Main, said:

“As he enters No 10. Downing Street, the new Prime Minister has a golden opportunity to kick-start his premiership by investing in UK science. This would stimulate the ideas, innovation and investment that will improve people’s quality of life and attract global attention.”

A coalition of the UK’s leading businesses, campaign organisations, universities and charities wrote to the final two candidates, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, calling on the next Prime Minister to put research and innovation at the heart of their plan for UK prosperity, post-Brexit. 

As CaSE’s new report ‘Building on Scientific Strength; The Next Decade of R&D Investment’ shows, despite having made a firm commitment to spend 2.4% of national wealth on R&D by 2027, the Government is not on track to meet its target and the UK already trails behind its international competitors.

Continuing, CaSE Executive Director Dr Sarah Main:

“To deliver on the 2.4% goal, the new Prime Minister needs to put their support behind UK science immediately, setting out a bold vision with a plan and a budget that can harness cross-Government support and global recognition.

As part of this drive we would urge the new Prime Minister to ensure that the science and innovation brief is fully represented at Cabinet level. This will send a powerful signal that UK science is taking a lead role in driving forward Britain’s future prosperity.”

Update: It has been announced that Jo Johnson has been appointed Minister of State between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education. Read our reaction to that news here and our analysis of what Boris Johnson could do for science and engineering.

About Boris Johnson

Having studied at Eton and Oxford University, Johnson went on to become a journalist based in the UK and Brussels, and was appointed Editor of the Spectator in 1999. He was elected as Conservative MP for Henley in 2001 and served as both shadow Arts Minister and shadow Higher Education Minister under Michael Howard and David Cameron. He successfully stood for Mayor of London in 2008 and served two full terms, while also being elected to Parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2015 General eEection.

Johnson notably endorsed ‘Leave’ in the 2016 EU Referendum campaign and was subsequently appointed Foreign Secretary by the new Prime Minister Theresa May. He resigned in 2018 over the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations and has sat on the backbenches since. 

Full list of key cabinet appointments related to the science and engineering sector

The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP – Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary

  • Education: Political Science, Warwick
  • Elected member for South Northamptonshire in 2010
  • Past Government roles: Leader of the House of Commons, June 2017 – May 2019; Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, July 2016 – June 2017; Minister of State for Energy May 2015 – July 2016; Economic Secretary to the Treasury, April 2014 – May 2015.

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which brings together responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation and energy. This includes:

  • developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy and leading the government’s relationship with business
  • ensuring that the country has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean
  • ensuring the UK remains at the leading edge of science, research and innovation
  • tackling climate change

The Rt Hon Jo Johnson MP – Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

  • Education: Modern History, Oxford
  • Elected member for Orpington in 2010.
  • Past Government roles: Minister of State for Transport and Minister for London, January 2018 – November 2018; Minister of State for Universities, May 2015 – January 2018; Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, July 2014 – May 2015
  • Read our reaction to the appointment here.

The minister’s Department for Education responsibilities include:

  • universities and higher education reform
  • higher education student finance (including the Student Loans Company)
  • widening participation and social mobility in higher education
  • education exports (including international students, international research)
  • review of post-18 education and funding
  • tackling extremism in higher education

The minister’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy responsibilities include:

  • Industrial Strategy
  • science and research
  • innovation
  • intellectual property
  • agri-tech
  • space
  • technology

The Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP – Exiting the European Union Secretary

  • Elected member for North East Cambridgeshire in 2010.
  • Past Government roles: Minister of State for Health, January 2018 – November 2018; Economic Secretary to the Treasury, June 2017 – January 2018

Responsibilities include:

  • Policy work to support the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union and to establish the future relationship between the EU and the UK
  • Conducting the negotiations in support of the Prime Minister including supporting bilateral discussions on EU exit with other European countries
  • Working closely with the UK’s devolved administrations, Parliament, and a wide range of other interested parties on the approach to negotiations
  • Leading and co-ordinating cross-government work to seize the opportunities and ensure a smooth process of exit on the best possible terms

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP – Chancellor of the Exchequer

  • Education: Economics and Politics, University of Exeter
  • Elected member for Bromsgrove in 2010.
  • Past Government roles: Home Secretary, April 2018 – July 2019; Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, July 2016 – April 2018; Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, May 2015 – July 2016; Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, April 2014 – May 2015; Financial Secretary to the Treasury, October 2013 – April 2014; Economic Secretary to the Treasury, September 2012 – October 2013.

The Chancellor’s responsibilities cover:

  • fiscal policy (including the presenting of the annual Budget)
  • monetary policy, setting inflation targets
  • ministerial arrangements (in his role as Second Lord of the Treasury)

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP– Home Secretary

  • Education: Economics, Keele University
  • Elected member for Witham in 2010.
  • Past Government roles: Secretary of State for International Development, July 2016 – November 2017; Minister of State for Employment, May 2015 – July 2016; Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, July 2014 – May 2015.

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for all Home Office business, including:

  • security and terrorism
  • legislative programme
  • expenditure issues

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP – Education Secretary

  • Education: Social Sciences, University of Bradford
  • Elected member for South Staffordshire in 2010.
  • Past Government roles: Secretary of State for Defence, November 2017 – May 2019; Chief Whip of the House of Commons, July 2016 – November 2017

The Secretary of State is responsible for the work of the Department for Education, including:

  • early years
  • children’s social care
  • teachers’ pay
  • the school curriculum
  • school improvement
  • academies and free schools
  • further education
  • higher education
  • apprenticeships and skills