City’s new minister will ‘bang the drum’ for Portsmouth

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock
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A shake-up at the highest levels of government has resulted in a new minister for Portsmouth, and a promotion for the city’s MP.

Michael Fallon, who was appointed to the role at the start of this year, has become secretary of state for defence.

Yesterday, David Cameron announced Matthew Hancock would take over responsibility for the city, as well as become business, enterprise and energy minister.

He will attend cabinet meetings.

Mr Hancock had previously been minister of state for skills and enterprise.

Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I am delighted to take over from Michael Fallon as minister for Portsmouth.

‘Portsmouth has a proud history and there have been some very positive developments in recent weeks.

‘Exciting plans such as the £124.8m Solent growth deal, news of Ben Ainslie Racing’s HQ and, as the prime minister announced just this week, the UK Centre for Maritime Intelligent Systems will build on the strong maritime experience and skilled workforce in the area.

‘I am really looking forward to visiting Portsmouth shortly and am determined to keep up this great momentum.

‘As minister for Portsmouth, I will make sure this city is well-represented at the heart of government and bang the drum for Portsmouth at every opportunity.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was rewarded with the governmental position of under secretary in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘I am very proud to have been member of the government.

‘I am extremely proud and hope it will inspire others from the city to pursue their dreams and put themselves out there and go for it.

‘I am very delighted.’

Asked about the prime minister’s decision to promote Matthew Hancock to the role, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘He is extremely able and there is a group set up across the government which is for members of government to pull together departments and help the city.

‘It is not appropriate for Michael Fallon to continue that role now that he is secretary of state for defence and I am really glad that Matthew is now the minister for Portsmouth.

‘Matthew knows us as a city. He has been to Fratton Park and he has got a real connection with the city.

‘I would really like to pay tribute to Michael Fallon.

‘When I went to see the prime minister and said we needed a member of government to help us, I specifically asked for Michael Fallon because he is somebody with a brilliant reputation for getting things done.

‘We have done very well out of the work he has done.

‘I owe him a great amount of thanks and I am so happy that he will continue to do great things in a different area of the government.’

During Portsmouth City Council’s full meeting last night, leader Cllr Donna Jones said she would be writing to Mr Fallon to thank him for his work.

Before the meeting, she said: ‘I am absolutely delighted with the news that Matthew Hancock has been appointed. His knowledge of higher and further education, and in particular colleges and apprenticeships, that is going to really help our businesses.

‘I am disappointed to have lost Michael Fallon but I would give him a huge congratulations for becoming defence minister.’

Maureen Frost, executive director of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said the organisation ‘welcomes Matthew’s appointment’.

‘It is excellent news that such a heavyweight politician is now championing the interests of Portsmouth,’ she said.

Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), added: ‘We have worked with Michael Fallon for some time now in both his role as minister for business, innovation and skills and, more recently, as minister for Portsmouth.

‘We have been delighted with the strong support that he has brought to our marine and maritime sector in the Solent, including our world-class defence sector, and we look forward to working with him in his new role as defence secretary to continue to develop this key sector.’

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