Bellingham gets chop, Simmonds takes on territories
(CNS): The apparent survival of the overseas territories minister in David Cameron’s Cabinet was short lived as Henry Bellingham was removed from his post when the British Prime Minister continued his reshuffle Wednesday. The responsibility for the territories has been given to Mark Simmonds, the Tory member for Boston and Skegness who was a former shadow health minister. Bellingham, with whom Cayman’s premier has claimed he had a good relationship, does not appear to have been offered another post in the Conservative-led coalition Cabinet. Meanwhile the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, one of the Conservative heavyweights, has retained his top job.
The UK government's mid-term shake up is seen by many as David Cameron’s attempt to revive the coalition’s fortunes in the face of continued austerity but is not expected to herald any major changes of policy. Simmonds is one of a number of new appointments considered to be further to the right of the Conservative party.
During Cameron's first cabinet re-jig, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was booed earlier this week as he handed out medals at the Para-Olympic games but remains at Number 11 Downing Street. UK polls had shown that the British public believes that Osborne, who is a close ally of Cameron, should be sacked.
Despite some speculation in the UK Press that Hague had lost his mojo, he has retained his post after telling the Evening Standard last week that he had wanted to remain in the position.
During the interview Hague told the London-based evening paper that the UK must shed lingering feelings of "post-colonial guilt" and be confident about its status on the world stage.
He said the UK had a "new and equal partnership" with countries unburdened by past history but Britain should be "more ambitious" about its role in the world and should not be held back by worries over any residual resentment overseas about its colonial past.
The foreign secretary’s comments come in the wake of the publication of a white paper regarding the future relationship the UK wants with its existing overseas territories and remaining colonial legacy, which indicates a desire for a much more hands-on approach.
Simmonds, a 48-year-old party loyalist, won his seat in the June 2001 General Election and within 30 months of being elected he was promoted to the front bench as the Shadow Minister for Education.
In September 2004 Simmonds was appointed Shadow Foreign Office Minister by then leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard. His work focused on international affairs in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South East Asia, and South America. After his re-election in May 2005 he was made Shadow Minister for International Development, where his role focuses on the important issues of aid, trade and debt.
Simmonds is also Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Latin American Group.
In July 2007 he was promoted to Shadow Minister for Health when the Conservative Party was in opposition but missed out on a role in the coalition government after the 2010 General Election.
See more about the new minister here
See Simmonds list of responsibilities here
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