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High profile housing minister named - but how long will she last?

Esther McVey is to be the new housing minister - one of the most seasoned politicians to take the job in recent years, although with no obvious experience of housing.

She was a Cabinet member in the government led by Theresa May, serving as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from January to November last year. She also held junior posts in the Cameron Coalition government between 2010 and 2015.

In her new housing brief McVey, who is 51, will be a junior minister to Robert Jenrick, the new (and relatively unknown) Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. McVey will be invited to attend Cabinet but will not be a full member.


McVey was first elected to Parliament in 2010 but lost her seat in the 2015 General Election; in 2017 she returned to the Commons, taking over the safe Tory constituency of Tatton from retiring former Chancellor George Osborne.

In her period out of the Commons between 2015 and 2017, McVey was chair of the British Transport Police; prior to her political career she was a TV presenter, working alongside Eamonn Holmes to present GMTV.

Last evening's appointment of Robert Jenrick as the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government - therefore McVey’s new boss in government - took many by surprise. He was chosen by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to succeed the broadly popular James Brokenshire, who resigned earlier in the day.

Elected as an MP for the first time only in 2014, Jenrick - who is 37 and thought to be the youngest member of the new cabinet - is a Former treasury minister Robert Jenrick, who was a Johnson supporter during the Tory leadership race. 

Jenrick, who is a Remainer, was criticised in 2017 when as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on international trade, he attended US President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Prior to becoming an MP he practised corporate law with an international law firm and has been a director of fine arts firm Christie’s.

Mark Hayward and David Cox, chief executives of NAEA and ARLA Propertymark, said in a statement this morning: “We welcome Robert Jenrick into his new role as Secretary of State for Housing. Over the last 12 months, housing has been high on the political agenda, with James Brokenshire and his team working closely with the industry to regulate the market and helping to release those stuck in a leasehold life sentence.

“We look forward to meeting the new Secretary of State and his team over the coming months and hope the department’s position and policy focus stays on track. The previous government made great strides in trying to fix the broken housing market and last week’s announcement to regulate the industry was a significant moment and a huge leap forward in stamping out bad practice. We have long called for government intervention to ensure everyone in the industry is licensed, adheres to a strict code of practice and holds at least a Level 3 qualification (equivalent to A-level). We look forward to working with the new government to ensure the work on this continues.”

Elsewhere in Prime Minister Johnson’s controversial reshuffle, former housing ministers - many of which were only in their post for months rather than years - have done spectacularly well. Dominic Raab has become Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, making him effectively the deputy Prime Minister; meanwhile Alok Sharma has been made International Development Secretary, and Grant Shapps has become Transport Secretary.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Not very long at all. She's an ambitious woman with previous experience of being in the Cabinet, she won't settle for being a junior minister for long. Another MP seeing the position of Housing Minister as a springboard to better things.

    You could argue it's worked out pretty well for Raab, Sharma and Shapps, though! (All were varying degrees of hopeless as Housing Minister). Raab and Shapps, in particular, make Boris look bright.

    Brokenshire was pretty solid, and I don't really fancy the chances of a virtual unknown being as effective. Brokenshire and Wheeler, despite their faults, do seem to have got MHCLG running as a pretty tight ship. No guarantee that will continue with Boris and the Brexiteers in charge, and Jenrick and McVey (voted out in 2015 before being parachuted into Osborne's old seat, the safest seat in town) don't inspire confidence.


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