Brexit Opportunities Unit follows Rees-Mogg to BEIS

Unit leaves Cabinet Office amid deregulation row, as union brief returns from DLUHC
Brexit Opportunities Unit leaves Cabinet Office with Jacob-Rees Mogg. Photo:

The unit tasked with capitalising on the UK’s new freedoms following its exit from the EU has moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while responsibility for union and devolution policy has returned to the Cabinet Office.

The Brexit Opportunities Unit has followed Jacob Rees-Mogg on his move from the Cabinet Office to BEIS, Liz Truss announced yesterday. Rees-Mogg was promoted from Brexit opportunities and government efficiency minister to business secretary in the prime minister’s reshuffle last month.

The move will will keep the unit under Rees-Mogg’s control and see its head, Chris Carr, return to his former department, where he was director of better regulation.

The machinery of government change will “bring together work to tackle EU red tape, seize post-Brexit opportunities and efforts to ensure the regulatory and business environment enables the UK to attract investment and boost growth”, the PM said.

However, it comes amid reports that Truss has had to delay her pro-growth reforms because she and Rees-Mogg have been unable to agree a deregulation plan.

The announcement of changes to workers’ rights was expected today as the first of a series of “supply-side” reforms under the PM’s so-called “Operation Rolling Thunder” plan to boost economic growth.

In his controversial mini-budget last month, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng promised the deregulation plans would come ahead of a medium-term fiscal plan in November – which has since been brought forward to 31 October in a bid to quell market turmoil sparked by the mini-budget.

But disagreement between Truss and her business secretary has delayed the first phase of the plan, The Times reported today.

It comes after No.10 rejected some of Rees-Mogg’s proposals for workers’-rights reform, reportedly describing them as “half-baked and unworkable”. The ideas included no-fault dismissals for people earning over £50,000. The idea was still on the table for people earning over £100,000, but has now been dropped, according to The Times.

An announcement is now set for next week on plans to curb public-sector workers’ right to strike, according to the newspaper. Civil servants who are currently being balloted on industrial action over pay, pensions and redundancy terms will be watching the announcement closely.

Union brief leaves DLUHC for Cabinet Office

Nadhim Zahawi will meanwhile take charge of union and devolution policy in his capacity as minister for intergovernmental relations.

This will allow him to lead “the UK government’s engagement with the devolved administrations and drive forward cross-government efforts to deliver tangible improvements for people across the UK, working closely with the territorial offices”, Truss said in a statement yesterday.

The union brief is returning to the Cabinet Office after just over a year at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities under then-levelling up secretary Michael Gove.

Both machinery of government changes were made with immediate effect.

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