Sajid Javid appointed Business Secretary; Anna Soubry to represent small businesses at Cabinet

Sajid Javid, arriving at 10 Downing Street today
Sajid Javid, arriving at 10 Downing Street today
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A BUS driver’s son from Lancashire who rose to become a high-flying investment banker in New York and the City of London has been appointed as the new Business Secretary.

Sajid Javid was previously Culture Secretary and succeeds Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat who lost his seat in last week’s general election.

Anna Soubry

Anna Soubry

Unlike many senior Conservatives, Mr Javid comes from a humble background, growing up in Rochdale and Bristol, and was educated at state schools.

He read economics and politics at Exeter University and started his business career at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York in 1991.

He moved to Deutsche Bank and became a senior managing director, helping to raise investment for developing countries.

Mr Javid was elected to Parliament in 2010, representing Bromsgrove, and served as a junior Treasury minister before being appointed Culture Secretary in 2014.

Jonathan Oxley, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It’s good that the department is going to be headed by someone who is clearly a rising star and who can be expected to make a mark in the role.

“Among his priorities should be the now well overdue overhaul of business rates. I would also like to see more support for the centres of excellence being developed in regions including our own.

“My hope is that the Government will continue its efforts to rebalance the economy both in terms of geography and industrial output.

“In terms of finance, I would urge him not to bash the banks for the sake of it, only as is necessary to ensure compliance with the law and good practice. I’d also like to see proper regulation put in place to facilitate the use of crowdfunding.”

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, said Mr Javid will provide a strong voice for the business community around the Cabinet table.

Mr Cridland said: “We want to encourage more companies, especially Britain’s forgotten army of medium-sized businesses, to boost exports and investment, to drive growth and create jobs up and down the country. We look forward to working with Sajid to achieve this.

“As an immediate step, we want the Government to set out a clear business plan for its first 100 days, including getting the deficit down, finding new ways to deliver public services and committing to the Airports Commission’s final decision this summer.

“We also need policies to bolster our supply chains, and make the UK the destination of choice for manufacturing high-value products.”

The writer Ian Fraser sounded a more sceptical note, suggesting that Mr Javid was “probably overpromoted” because his background provided a useful counter to the view that the Conservatives are led by “Toffs”.

He also questioned how committed Mr Javid would be to manufacturing given his successful background in financial services.

“Forget ‘March of the Makers’,” he said, in a reference to Chancellor George Osborne’s speech about rebalancing the economy.

Voice for small businesses in the Cabinet

The new Minister for Small Business, Anna Soubry, will attend Cabinet meetings, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

She will be able to provide a voice for small businesses at the highest echelon of Government.

Ms Soubry, who was born in Lincolnshire, worked as a television journalist and criminal barrister before entering Parliament as the MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire in 2010.

The Federation of Small Businesses has been campaigning for small businesses to be represented at Cabinet level and welcomed Ms Soubry’s appointment.

“We obviously look forward to working with her and finding out what she wants to achieve,” said a spokesman.

In the first major survey of small business owners since the general election, FSB members said they wanted a sustained economic recovery as their top priority with public finances put on a sound footing.

They also want a vision from the Government on how it will support enterprise and a timetable by which it will be delivered.

Other important priorities include lowering the cost of doing business and ensuring growth in every nation and region of the UK, not just London and the South East.

Neil Kendal, West Yorkshire chairman of the FSB, said members want “a supportive, light touch tax and regulatory environment in which to grow their business, creating prosperity and jobs”.

Jonathan Riley, head of tax at Grant Thornton, said he hoped that Ms Soubry would focus her efforts on those businesses with the greatest potential to grow, particularly those “scale-ups” investing in innovation, skills and exports.