New year, new shipping minister?
UK maritime industry must grab opportunity for fresh thinking as reshuffle sees new faces in transport
A NEW Year's overhaul at the top of UK politics warrants a 'move along, nothing to see here' headline for most international maritime operators.
Many domestic maritime interests will be similarly nonplussed. Cabinet reshuffles are a relatively common event in Westminster and junior ministers come and go regularly. The shipping brief is one of the most porous, given maritime's perceived backwater status to the UK economy, with a long history of aspiring MPs have used it as a stepping stone to greater things.
During any cabinet reshuffle normal business will proceed, so policy decisions that have been made, or confirmed diary events, will be inherited by the incoming minister. Thus industry is not starting afresh with every new face that comes in.
So the news that Shipping Minister John Hayes – seen as particularly supportive of the UK maritime industry – has moved to the back benches as part of the wider government reshuffle will not greatly effect even those businesses that have spent serious time lobbying government over the past 12-18 months.
Indeed, Lloyd’s List has been told by a number of industry representatives with close links to government that they will work quickly to ensure any incoming ministers are up to speed with the major policy issues facing the industry. That could include improved transport links, frictionless trade, passporting rights and funding for UK seafarer training.
A wave of fresh thinking on maritime policy was seen in the wake of the 2017 Brexit referendum that resulted in the UK voting to leave the European Union.
This reshuffle could be the catalyst for taking some of those concepts to the next level. After all, new people will have new ideas and something to prove. The UK maritime industry should be ready to make the most of any opportunity that arises.