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UK >

New Government urged not to sideline climate issue

Hattie Williams

by Hattie Williams

Posted: 15 Jul 2016 @ 01:06

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New broom sweeps in: Theresa May, with her husband, Philip, arrive in Downing Street on Wednesday of last week

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New broom sweeps in: Theresa May, with her husband, Philip, arrive in Downing Street on Wednesday of last week

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has prayed for wisdom in the Government, while Christian charities have urged MPs to “retain commitments”, as Theresa May began a dramatic Cabinet reshuffle on her first night as Prime Minister, on Wednesday.

Of the 22 Cabinet positions available, seven had been filled by Leave campaigners, and seven by women (excluding the Prime Minister) by Thursday evening. Archbishop Welby said on Twitter: “We pray for @theresa_may and her new government over the coming days — for wisdom as they lead for the common good of the country.”

The first to be appointed was the Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, while his predecessor Philip Hammond was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. The former Chancellor, George Osborne, and the former Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, have returned to the back benches.

Only four members of the previous Cabinet are to remain in position: Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary; Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary; Alun Cairns as Welsh Secretary; and David Mundell as Scottish Secretary.

Mrs May gave significant promotions to Brexit supporters, including two newly created positions: David Davis as Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, and Liam Fox as Secretary for International Trade.

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Enforcer: David Davis leaves Downing Street after being appointed Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, on Thursday morning

 

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Enforcer: David Davis leaves Downing Street after being appointed Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, on Thursday morning

 

The former Leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, was appointed Transport Secretary, while Mrs May appointed her former rival for the leadership, Andrea Leadsom as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary. Priti Patel, the former Minister of State for Employment, was appointed Secretary for International Development, despite calling for the department to be scrapped in 2013.

World Vision UK called on Ms Patel to make a “no cuts” pledge to preserve the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of the Gross National Income on overseas aid.

The charity’s public-affairs officer, Rob Henderson, said: “People question what impact a Whitehall department has on children’s lives thousands of miles away. The answer is ‘massive’. The UK punches above its weight — championing children abused by war, ending child marriage and restoring dignity to children in the world’s toughest places. Our influence on the world stage makes this country a force to be reckoned with.”

The aid and development agency Tearfund also said that Ms Patel must give “an early signal” to retain the commitment to tackle global poverty, “at a time when the world will be watching to see whether the nation turns inwards”.

Her in-tray would be “heaving”, the advocacy director at Tearfund, Paul Cook, said; but she must prioritise helping developing nations respond to the impact of climate change. “The poor communities Tearfund is working with around the world are experiencing more extreme storms, flooding, erratic seasons, and growing deserts, all of which are devastating to every aspect of their lives.”

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change has been disbanded in the reshuffle, eight years after it was created. It has been replaced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which will now take on energy policy, and which has been renamed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under Greg Clark. The previous Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, is replacing Mr Clark at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Christian Aid expressed concern at the loss, but said that it was an opportunity for the new department “to play a vital role in shaping a sustainable, low-carbon economy for the UK”.

The head of advocacy at Christian Aid, Laura Taylor, said: “We hope that Greg Clark will put tackling climate change right at the heart of the new Government’s agenda, and fulfil his predecessor Amber Rudd’s commitment to produce a low-carbon plan for the country.”

Ms Rudd has succeeded Mrs May as Home Secretary. Two more women, the former Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, and the former International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, were appointed to Justice Secretary and Education Secretary, respectively.

The Education department will now also be responsible for universities, further education, skills, and apprenticeships, which have been transferred from the former Department for Business.

The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that he was pleased with the appointment of Ms Greening. “Clearly she understands the power of education to transform lives for the good. We look forward to working with Justine and her colleagues to ensure that all our young people are given the opportunity to flourish academically, socially, and spiritually within school communities that are free to focus on the whole child and not just their test results.”

Karen Bradley, the former Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime, takes over from the deposed John Whittingdale as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary; Damian Green is to be the new Work and Pensions Secretary; and James Brokenshire is to be the Secretary for Northern Ireland.

Mrs May is due to meet the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in Edinburgh, today, to discuss the future of the EU and the union. Mrs May, referring to the full name of the Conservative and Unionist Party, said in her first speech as Prime Minister: “the word ‘Unionist’ is very important to me.

“It means we believe in the Union: the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. . . We believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we’re from.”

A prayer for the new Prime Minister and Government has been published on the Church of England website: “Sovereign God, give grace to those who lead our Government and nation that they may use their gifts and abilities to serve the common good, and to seek that unity which is your gift and your will; through him who came not to be served but to serve, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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Out: left to right: Stephen Crabb, Oliver Letwin, Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, Theresa Villiers, John Whittingdale, and George Osborne

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Out: left to right: Stephen Crabb, Oliver Letwin, Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, Theresa Villiers, John Whittingdale, and George Osborne

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