The UK Government has appointed Kelly Tolhurst as new Maritime Minister to replace Nusrat Ghani, who was axed last week as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.
Tolhurst’s role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport will also include responsibilities for aviation, security & civil contingencies, and roads. Interestingly it does not include rail – and therefore the controversial new HS2 high-speed rail link with northern UK – which was part of Ghani’s portfolio.
However, the maritime role is understood to include both shipping and ports, meaning Tolhurst will oversee the project to create up to 10 new freeports for which the government has just launched a 10-week consultation period. The project has been championed by Rishi Sunak, who was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer in the latest reshuffle.
Maritime London chief executive Jos Standerwick said he welcomed the appointment, especially given Tolhurst’s previous work for the Department for
Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, leaving her “perfectly placed to progress the commercial shipping agenda within government.”
“Changing global tax norms, the fast-evolving ship finance environment, coupled with the need for the sector to decarbonise, has created a unique opportunity for the UK,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Minister to ensure we capitalise on them.”
British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne likewise welcomed the appointment, saying the BPA looked forward to a constructive working relationship with the incoming Minister, particularly at what he deemed this “pivotal time” given the “current consultation on freeports, [with] post-Brexit trade facilitation also high on the agenda, as well as sustainability and port connectivity.”