Yesterday’s decision by MPs to agree to Theresa May’s snap General Election on June 8 means that the current government - including the housing minister role - ends on May 3.
Gavin Barwell, the outgoing housing minister, has a narrow Conservative majority in his Croydon Central constituency of just 165 votes. In 2015 there had to be a partial recount and the seat is 47th on Labour’s target list - although that list was drawn up before Labour’s slump in opinion poll support under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Barwell, a former Conservative Central Office employee, became housing minister last summer under the then-new Theresa May government created after the EU Referendum.
By the time he formally leaves ministerial office at one minute past midnight on May 3, when Parliament officially ‘dissolves’, he will have been in post for less than 10 months. His predecessor, Brandon Lewis, was in post for two years spanning the end of the Coalition government and the one year David Cameron government.
Lewis’s predecessor as Tory housing minister in the then-Coalition government was the little-known Kris Hopkins. Before that came the much more popular Mark Prisk, a former surveyor employed by Knight Frank - but he was only in post for 13 months.
His predecessor was the extremely high-profile Grant Shapps who held the post for the first two years of the Coalition after being Tory shadow housing minister before that.
Labour has been no better at keeping housing ministers for long - an indication, according to many in the property industry, that politicians actually held the issue in low esteem despite often making speeches to the contrary.
The final housing minister of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown premierships was the authoritative John Healey - shadow housing minister over the past 18 months. Before Healey, when Labour was in government, came Margaret Beckett whose nine months as housing minister was seen as the swansong of her ministerial career. She was preceded by Caroline Flint, Yvette Cooper, Keith Hill and Jeff Rooker. None held the post for more than two years, and most for much shorter periods.
Last July when he took office Barwell immediately tweeted: “Hugely honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to serve as Minister of State for Housing & Planning” before adding: “Look forward to working with councils, housing associations, developers and investors to ensure we build the homes people need and deserve.”
However, since Theresa May announced on Tuesday her intention to hold another General Election this summer, Barwell has not referred to housing on Twitter and has instead tweeted and re-tweeted a series of messages praising his work as a constituency MP.