Mystery deepens over the future of Minister for Portsmouth role

Matthew Hancock
Matthew Hancock
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THE future of the minister for Portsmouth role remains unclear.

But the city’s two MPs believe the job has run its course and are looking to other ways the government can deliver support.

The role didn’t serve any purpose other than to justify the closing down of shipbuilding in the city.

Labour councillor John Ferrett

Prime minister David Cameron has yet to announce whether any of his colleagues will pick up the role last held by Matthew Hancock.

He is unlikely to continue as he has been appointed cabinet office minister as part of the Tory reshuffle.

The role was set up by the government in the wake of the loss of shipbuilding in Portsmouth to try and boost maritime prospects in the region.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has made enquiries about whether the role will continue, and said: ‘The role as it was originally envisaged has run its course.

‘It was a role I pushed for as I felt we needed someone to help deal with that particular issue.’

‘It’s been helpful in terms of getting stuff to happen very quickly.

‘Flick Drummond (the MP for Portsmouth South) and I have a list of things we want done for the area, and that’s broader than just the maritime sector, which was the focus for the minister for Portsmouth.’

Mrs Drummond said if the role carried on then someone who can ‘make a difference’ would need to be appointed.

‘If we get somebody that’s going to make a difference, fair enough,’ she said.

‘Otherwise I hope I will be able to shout out for Portsmouth at Westminster which is exactly what my role is going to be.’

But Councillor John Ferrett, who stood for Labour in Portsmouth North at the general election, said he wouldn’t be sad to see it go.

‘The role didn’t serve any purpose other than to justify the closing down of shipbuilding in the city,’ he said.

‘There will be no sadness on the part of myself or the people who lost their jobs in shipbuilding with the minister for Portsmouth going.’

And Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem candidate in Portsmouth South, said: ‘It was useful when the shock of losing shipbuilding happened.

‘I don’t think it has been for much use after.’

But Cllr Colin Galloway, Ukip group leader, said: ‘The role should be kept.

‘It was a good conduit between Portsmouth to Westminster. It would seem a terrible shame to stop it now.’