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Jesse Norman quit the Treasury over Boris Johnson’s bid for more diversity

·3-min read
Rishi Sunak departs to deliver the annual Budget with members of the Treasury staff (from 2nd L) Minister of State Lord Agnew, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen (R) on March 11, 2020 in London, England - Getty Images Europe
Rishi Sunak departs to deliver the annual Budget with members of the Treasury staff (from 2nd L) Minister of State Lord Agnew, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen (R) on March 11, 2020 in London, England - Getty Images Europe

Jesse Norman has revealed he quit the Treasury after Boris Johnson told him he wanted diversity to improve.

The former financial secretary to the Treasury was removed from post last week in what was considered a surprise move during the Prime Minister’s reshuffle.

However, Mr Norman has revealed that he stepped down from the position after a conversation with Mr Johnson about improving diversity within Government.

Mr Norman told Times Radio: “We had a conversation in which he (Boris Johnson) actually offered me the choice of staying on, but said that he was looking to improve the diversity and representation within the Government.”

However, Mr Norman added: “I actually believe in what the Prime Minister is trying to do with improving representation and diversity, and I don’t want to be one of those, I don’t want to say 'Yes I’m going to stay in' to be one of those ministers who then has to be forklifted out later on.”

He added that he told Mr Johnson “no” and that he was “happy to step down”.

‘I am pro change’

Mr Norman served as a policy advisor in Downing Street from 2013 and has been in the Commons since 2010. He is married to Kate Bingham, who chaired the Government's vaccine taskforce.

When asked during the interview if it was “fair” for him to leave the role in order to improve diversity, despite potentially being the best candidate for it, he disagreed.

“I think there are a whole different set of conditions, considerations and questions that are raised by that but in general, I am, I have to say rather pro change,” he said, adding that he “might be cutting my own head off now or in the future”.

He added: “I think I’ve got more to give to this Government and future governments and I wouldn’t draw the line there for a second, but it’s also open.”

Mr Norman said he felt “incredibly lucky” for his time in Government and felt it was “a good idea to refresh and change things”.

“I know colleagues will feel differently about this, I perfectly respect that and understand that, but for me it was okay.”

Johnson the feminist

The Prime Minister has spoken previously about wanting to improve the diversity of his Government, and a more “representative” Cabinet.

Earlier this year, Allegra Stratton, who was speaking on behalf of Mr Johnson, said he was a feminist and wanted to see improvements in terms of representation within his Government.

During the reshuffle a number of high-performing women were among the key beneficiaries.

Lucy Frazer QC, previously prisons minister, replaced Mr Norman as Financial Secretary, while Helen Whately, the former social care minister, was made Exchequer Secretary within the Treasury.

Female MPs were also promoted to the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care.

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