• Wednesday, September 27, 2023

UK News

Claire Coutinho may become chief secretary to Treasury

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

MINISTER for children, families and wellbeing, Claire Coutinho, could be made chief secretary to the Treasury next month when prime minister Rishi Sunak is expected to reshuffle his cabinet, a media report suggested.

Coutinho MP would be a politically attractive appointment to succeed John Glen in the Treasury department, The Sunday Times (13) reported.

Glen is seen as a potential replacement for Ben Wallace, who announced his resignation as defence secretary last month.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove may replace Steve Barclay as health secretary, the report said, adding there is also a likelihood of education secretary Gillian Keegan becoming business secretary in place of incumbent Kemi Badenoch.

Badenoch may be made education secretary.

Coutinho, 38, is not new to the Treasury as the Oxford graduate previously worked as an aide to Sunak when he was the department’s chief secretary.

The MP for East Surrey, whose family can trace their roots to Goa, backed Sunak in the Tory leadership race last summer.

The Conservatives are facing an uphill task against Labour as the government battles record arrivals of migrants from across the Channel, long waiting lists in the public health service and elevated inflation which has severely squeezed household savings.

Official data showed last week that 100,000 migrants made their way to the UK shores on small boats since 2018. The NHS waiting lists, according to the most recent figures, reached 7.6 million. But inflation has been cooling off from record highs and the economy recorded an unexpected growth in the second quarter of the year.

Contrary to predictions, the Conservatives pulled off a win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election in July, although the party lost two other seats – Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome.

Sunak has tried to restore the Tories’ credibility after a series of scandals last year forced Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister and economic turmoil made his successor Liz Truss leave office after just six weeks.

Sunak’s close advisers and election officials are likely to hold a conference next month to devise strategy for a general election.

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