Lord Maude – the former Cabinet Office minister who initiated a wide-ranging shake-up of the civil service – is to step down from frontline politics.
Following last year's general election, Maude was moved from the Cabinet Office post he had occupied for five years, taking on the job of minister of state for trade and investment.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Maude said he would be leaving the trade post "pretty soon" – and defended the government's "stretching" plan to double UK exports to £1tn by the end of the decade, a key aim of his job.
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And he said that UK Trade and Investment, the non-ministerial department which aims to help British companies increase exports and grow internationally, had become more open to "reforming zeal".
"I said I would do the diagnosis and the prescription piece of the job," he added. "It feels like this was the right break point."
During his time as Cabinet Office minister, Maude launched a range of civil service reform initiatives, including a drive to renegotiate key contracts, and sharpen Whitehall's commercial, project management and IT skills.
He also oversaw the introduction of a performance management system for staff – which proved highly controversial with unions – while civil service headcount fell by 17% over the period of his tenure.
The outgoing trade minister – who was handed a peerage just after the election – told the paper that he would now return to the private sector, as well as taking on some non-profit work.
Business secretary Sajid Javid was questioned on Maude's announcement by MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee on Wednesday morning.
Javid said that while Maude planned to leave "in the coming weeks", his departure was "not a surprise to me or other ministers – this has been planned."
Committee chair Iain Wright said it was a "shame" that Maude was deciding to leave "relatively early on" in his appointment.