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New digital minister appointed as PM Johnson continues reshuffle

Former telecoms executive Nigel Adams takes over as minister for digital and sport, succeeding Margot James

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s ministerial appointments are continuing, with Nigel Adams becoming minister for digital within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Adams, who will also be sports minister, will report to new DCMS secretary of state Nicky Morgan, who was earlier announced as part of Johnson’s Cabinet.

Adams has a background in telecoms. He started his own business, Advanced Digital Telecom, in 1993, which he later sold to JWE Telecom. In 2006, he acquired NGC Networks, a Wakefield-based telecoms equipment and services supplier, with business partner Dean Harrop, where he remains a shareholder. Adams became an MP in 2010.

Adams’ communications experience may prove useful if he is given responsibility for delivering Johnson’s ambitious promise to “insert high-speed broadband into every orifice of every home” by 2025, ahead of the current 2033 target. His remit will also include the roll-out of 5G mobile networks, data protection, digital skills and tech startups, as well as other digital economy policies.

Adams succeeds Margot James as digital minister, after she resigned to allow her to vote for a House of Commons motion aiming to prevent the prime minister from suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

A report today from Buzzfeed News also suggested that Johnson is set to appoint a digital adviser in his Number 10 operation. The report said the role will go to Chloe Westley, currently campaign manager at the right-wing pro-Brexit think-tank, the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Also within Downing Street, Johnson’s new special adviser, Dominic Cummings, is a keen observer of how tech companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, use new operating models and ways of working to bring often radical change to businesses.

Cummings has written about how he admires the methods used by tech pioneers such as Xerox Parc and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), organisations whose research in the 1960s and 1970s led to the internet and many of the tools commonly used today, such as laser printers, Windows-style interfaces and the mouse.

Johnson has also overhauled other key Cabinet posts affecting the tech and digital sectors, bringing in Andrea Leadsom as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, and promoting Oliver Dowden to Cabinet Office minister.

UPDATE 29 July 2019: Former Daily Telegraph technology journalist Matt Warman has also been appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state at DCMS, with responsibility for digital.

UPDATE 30 July 2019: DCMS has finally confirmed individual responsibilities for each of its ministerial team, and has divided digital and tech policy responsibilities between Adams and Warman as follows:

Adams: Minister of state for sport, media and creative industries, responsible for oversight of departmental plans on Brexit; international strategy including approach to future trade deals; lead secondary legislation minister (including EU Exit statutory instruments); sport; media and creative industries; data and the National Archives; cyber security.

Warman: Parliamentary under secretary of state for digital and broadband, responsible for online harms and security; digital infrastructure, including full-fibre rollout and BDUK; digital skills; digital and tech policy.

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