Chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss is expected to fill a new role around infrastructure, the economy, and business under a Boris Johnson government, according to those who have had discussions with her in recent weeks.
Truss has been holding meetings with advocacy groups recently. She is expected to front a department covering parts of the current Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy portfolio, as well as sections currently covered by the Treasury.
The departmental reshuffle would be part of Johnson’s move to cut Whitehall departments, and reduce the number of Cabinet portfolios.
Chancellor Phillip Hammond pushed back against the move at a Treasury all-staff event on Thursday. Having both economics and finance under one roof led to better decision making, he said.
Details of a potential departmental merger are unclear, but sources with knowledge of discussions told Yahoo Finance UK they anticipate a closer relationship between business and the Treasury, with a potential new department focusing on Johnson’s love of grand projects.
In recent meetings, Truss has been “mouthing off,” according to one source aware of the discussions. Another described her as recently questioning why there needed to be a British manufacturing industry in a meeting with industry leaders, in what was considered a tense meeting.
Other sources said Truss encouraged industrial groups to domesticate supply chains, despite industry insiders considering it impossible to do so. A source with a good understanding of the meetings said Truss was promoting “Minford economics,” after the Vote Leave economist Patrick Minford who said Brexit would “mostly eliminate manufacturing.”
Current business secretary Greg Clark is widely anticipated to be leaving the Cabinet if Johnson is elected.