The Prime Minister created a new cabinet role in the midst of a reshuffle, with Jacob Rees-Mogg being given the newly created role of “Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency”.
What exactly a “Brexit Opportunities” minister does remains somewhat unclear, with no responsibilities currently listed on the government website, but Rees-Mogg has been tasked by the prime minister to draw up a list of “1000 regulations we want to get rid of”.
It appears that the duties of the newly appointed Brexit Opportunities minister will be to try and deliver on the promises made by government “Brexiteers” prior to leaving the EU in 2020.
Some of these promises now seem, and in some cases, always seemed, impossible to deliver on. In 2018 Jacob Rees-Mogg said that a no-deal Brexit would be worth £1 trillion to the British economy, which has yet to manifest, and the famous promise of £350 million a week to the NHS always seemed rather far-fetched and has yet to come to fruition in any meaningful way.
With considerable shipping delays at the Anglo-French border as a result of Brexit, which are expected to get worse this month, the most tangible effects of Brexit for many people are hardly positive. Until recently the only “successes” of Brexit appeared to be the oh-so-meaningful changes of crowns once again appearing on pint glasses and new passports being blue.
However, in recent times the government has been eager to point out how Brexit allowed the UK to facilitate the fastest booster rollout in the world; quickly becoming a staple of Johnson’s PMQs retorts.
While the government is eager to capitalise on the booster rollout success to improve the image of Brexit, some have raised worries that a “bonfire of regulations” might hinder the UK’s ability to trade with the EU, if standards are dropped too far.
Fans of de-regulation argue that it allows a more competitive economy and encourages companies to move to the UK with investment, while critics argue that it will lead to a race to the bottom. Only time will tell whether our daily bread will soon be fortified with sawdust, or whether private sector investment will bring about a land of milk and honey. Either way, we may not have to wait long to see what regulations the government chooses to scrap with Rees-Mogg ready to “turbo-charge the deregulation agenda”, reportedly telling the prime minister:
“I’m ready to go to work, if you could just tell me where my office is.”
The new ministerial position replaces and absorbs the old duties of Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation, which in turn had replaced Minister of State for the treasury.
This part of Rees-Mogg’s new role will entail:
- “Supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to deliver cross-government and public sector reform and efficiency, including public value and planning and performance”
- “Supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with oversight of the corporate functions and operation of the spending controls, including in relation to COVID-19”
It appears that the appointment comes as part of Johnson’s promises to shake up Downing Street in the wake of the redacted Sue Gray report which pointed towards fundamental failings of leadership within Number 10.
Other changes see Christopher Heaton-Harris become Chief Whip and Mark Spencer replace Rees-Mogg as Leader of the Commons. The appointment of Mark Spencer to a cabinet position has drawn some criticisms as he is currently under investigation for alleged Islamophobia after MP Nus Ghani accused Spencer of telling her she lost her cabinet position because of her “Muslimness”.