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Thu April 02 2020

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Housing ministers: demotion for this year's model

14 Feb A Cabinet reshuffle yesterday has resulted in the sacking of Esther McVey as minister of state for housing, to be replaced by Christopher Pincher, the MP for Tamworth.

Chris Pincher won't attend Cabinet, unlike his predecessor
Chris Pincher won't attend Cabinet, unlike his predecessor

Chris Pincher now becomes the 10th Conservative housing minister since 2010 and the 18th since the start of the century, making it the slipperiest seat in government. No one stays in for long.

However, unlike his predecessor, Esther McVey, Mr Pincher will not attend Cabinet meetings. This is open to one of three interpretations:

  • that the prime minister has downgraded housing and construction as a policy area;
  • that he thinks Robert Jenrick (remaining as secretary of state for housing, communities and local government) is now sufficiently across his brief to adequately represent housing and construction alone;
  • or (perish the thought) that Ms McVey was only invited to attend Cabinet to fulfil some kind of regional or gender quota.

Housing ministers since the turn of the century have been: firstly for Labour, Nick Raynsford, Charles Falconer, Jeff Rooker, Keith Hill, Yvette Cooper, Caroline Flint, Margaret Beckett and John Healey; then since 2010 we have had Grant Shapps, Mark Prisk, Kris Hopkins, Brandon Lewis, Gavin Barwell, Alok Sharma, Domic Raab, Kit Malthouse, Esther McVey and now Chris Pincher.

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Mr Pincher, aged 50, was an IT management consultant before entering parliament in 2010. He was born in Walsall and grew up near Wolverhampton.

As a Brexiteer, in July 2019 he was promoted by Boris Johnson from deputy chief whip to the plum job of minister of state at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for Europe and the Americas. His move to a more junior department at the same rank suggests a demotion.

On his new appointment, he tweeted: “Delighted to be appointed as the @mhclg  Minister of State for Housing -  though sad to be leaving a great team at @foreignoffice. This government will deliver on our commitment to build the housing that people need. Looking forward to getting stuck in alongside @RobertJenrick”

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