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Uncertainly Grips Vacant Post of UK Digital Infrastructure Minister UPDATE

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 (11:08 am) - Score 1,344
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Last week’s cabinet reshuffle saw Matt Warman MP being somewhat unexpectedly sacked from the role of ‘Minister for Digital Infrastructure‘ within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Replacements are normally appointed within 24-48 hours, but six long days have nearly passed without any clarity.

The move to sack Warman came a day after Oliver Dowden MP was replaced by Nadine Dorries MP in the role of Secretary of State for DCMS (here), although it’s unclear why Matt has been demoted – he seemed to understand the brief fairly well (industry sources have been broadly positive about his input) and tended to tow the Government line.

However, internal party politics can be a minefield and are something that we prefer to avoid thinking too much about, unless needing to find a quick way to go to sleep at night. Nevertheless, the prolonged uncertainty has already impacted some digital infrastructure related events that Warman was due to attend.

Ministers have a huge opportunity to change our great country for the better. It’s been an honour to serve the government as a whip & to improve our broadband, address cyber threats & grow the digital economy. I look forward to doing all I can on that & more from the backbenches,” said Warman after he was removed. The MP will now re-join the backbenchers.

We have repeatedly asked DCMS and others to clarify what is happening with the post of Digital Infrastructure Minister, but so far the only response has been one of silence. Hopefully an adequate replacement can be found soon, ideally in the form of a minister who does at least have some understanding of the subject.

UPDATE 11:46am

We note that Julia Lopez, MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, who was last week appointed as the Minister of State for DCMS, gave the closing speech at a Westminster Hall debate on gigabit broadband vouchers this morning. It’s possible that she may eventually be delegated responsibility for the digital infrastructure role, but as it stands, no final decisions have been made.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Z says:

    Digital infrastructure. Who needs it anyway

    This government need to get a grip. You wouldn’t run a company like this, why a country?

  2. Its got what plants crave says:

    How I wish we lived in a technocracy instead of just appointing your buddies from Eaton or from the elite.

    1. Joe says:

      Oh dear me.

      Its Eton.

      And which school do you think the previous holder of the post went to? Their boss the former or present Culture Sec? Or the minister standing in at Westminster Hall?

  3. Optimist says:

    Never forget that a Prime Minister’s enemies are not on the opposition benches, but on his own.

  4. Billy says:

    Once Gavin Williamson has finished reading ‘The Ladybird Book of Digital Infrastructure’, and achieved experthood, he will be appointed as the new minister.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      In 2021, there is probably more truth in that statement than satire.

    2. A_Builder says:

      What makes you think his briefing will be that advanced?

      Probably Peter & Jane build a national network complete with illustrations of a GPO Commer van…..

  5. Peter S says:

    As I understand BDUK are not currently accepting new local authorities who wish to top up the BDUK gigabit vouchers, due to a supposed “backlog”. The issue has been going on for over 6 months now despite local authority top up’s being seen as a key element of the project gigabit proposals launched in March. Whoever is appointed as the new Digital Infrastructure Minister, it would be great if they could finally resolve this long standing issue and allow new entrants to this scheme !

    1. NGA for all says:

      According to BDUK’s latest spreadsheet there are ~400k premises contracted but yet to be delivered under superfast-now gigabit contracts, as you need to deliver FTTP to hit 30Mbps. Thinkbroadband report ~2k in the last month, which is consistent with folk giving up completing rural.
      Meanwhile BT in their accounts (footnote 18) confirm £558m is yet to be triggered from the Gainshare. It does not appear this will be contracted.

      I am not sure how a business case to overbuild what has already been subsidised will ever get through Treasury but this is Boris Broadband.

  6. FibreBubble says:

    As the government has delivered food and medicine shortages, higher inflation, chronic labour shortages and tax and benefit attacks on the poorest. Best that they stay well away from telecomms

  7. Gary says:

    ‘Uncertainty’ surely Mark, pesky spell checkers.

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