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Prime minister Theresa May has launched a Cabinet reshuffle, leading to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) losing its secretary of state, Matt Hancock.
He has been replaced by Jeremy Wright, the MP for Kenilworth and Southam, who has served as attorney general for the last four years.
Hancock’s departure from DCMS comes as (now former) health secretary Jeremy Hunt was appointed foreign secretary following Boris Johnson’s resignation yesterday (9 July).
Hancock had only been in his role as DCMS secretary of state since January 2018, when he was promoted from digital minister – a move which was seen as a significant step up for him.
The former DCMS secretary came with a strong digital remit, having been seen as a cheerleader for the technology sector in government with a long history of fighting for digital.
Earlier in 2018, he even launched his own Matt Hancock app, aimed at his local constituents. However, the new DCMS secretary, Jeremy Wright, seems to have little experience when it comes to digital, suggesting it will be a sharp learning curve as he settles into the role.
Wright’s political interests include criminal justice, education and foreign affairs, and he has been a Conservative politician since 2003, according to the parliamentary website. Prior to his role as attorney general, Wright was the parliamentary under-secretary at the Ministry of Justice.
According to his own constituency website, his personal interests include watching and playing cricket – but he is so “useless” at the sport, “no-one will play with me”, and he used to enjoy playing the trumpet, but “can barely get a note out of the instrument these days”.
On social media, Wright has already been criticised for his lack of digital skills. On Twitter, Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan suggested that Wright doesn’t even have a Twitter account. He does however, have a Facebook page.
The Government’s new Secretary of State for DIGITAL and CULTURE and MEDIA (and sport) doesn’t even have a Twitter account. @TwitterSupport – can you please offer Jeremy Wright some support?— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) July 9, 2018
Wright does in fact have a Twitter presence - @JeremyWrightPPC - but at the time he was appointed, had not posted anything since 16 April 2015.
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- The government has published its official, supportive response to the House of Lords select committee report on artificial intelligence, published earlier this year.
Matt Hancock departs DCMS
Commenting on Hancock’s departure from DCMS and Wright’s appointment, techUK CEO Julian David said the trade body is “very sorry to see Matt Hancock move on from the digital portfolio”.
“As minister for Digital, then as Secretary of State for DCMS, Matt has been a staunch supporter of the UK’s tech sector both in government and in other domestic and international fora,” David said.
“His move to lead the work of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is a clear recognition of the passion, determination and drive we have seen him show at DCMS. All of us here at techUK now look forward to working with Jeremy Wright and digital minister Margot James to continue to build on the success of our industry.”
Hancock won’t get away from digital and technology at the DHSC. The NHS has a huge programme to become paperless at the point of care by 2020, and by the end of this year, patients will be able to book appointments, check their medical records and access NHS services using a smartphone app.
There are also big pieces of work going on around the use of artificial intelligence and genomics in the NHS.