Former Sky finance chief Andrew Griffith will lead the government’s financial services reforms, including sweeping plans to overhaul former Brussels insurance rules, after being appointed City minister by prime minister Liz Truss.
Griffith, a close ally of former PM Boris Johnson, had already been chosen as financial secretary to the Treasury, which will be wrapped together with the ministerial position into one role. He succeeds John Glen, who was a popular City minister during a turbulent four years punctuated by Brexit until his exit in July after Johnson announced he would step down.
His appointment comes at a crucial time for the City of London, as the UK pledges to accelerate reforms to its financial rules after making limited progress since leaving the EU more than two years ago.
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last week pledged a “Big Bang 2.0” for the City, driven by a post-Brexit overhaul of regulation to boost the sector’s competitiveness.
The UK has lost thousands of jobs, more than £1tn of assets and billions in taxable trading and dealmaking revenues since the country’s departure from the EU, with Brussels and European Central Bank steadily demanding more jobs relocate inside the bloc.
Griffith will also lead the overhaul of the EU’s Solvency II rules that still govern the UK’s insurance sector, with the aim of releasing billions in capital to be invested in infrastructure and other long-term projects in the country.
The role will require a degree of diplomacy as politicians look to take a more active role in financial decision-making, which has long been delegated to the Bank of England. Lawmakers have proposed a financial services bill that would give ministers the power to challenge findings by regulators if they feel their decisions are holding back competitiveness.
Regulators, such as the head of the BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority, have cautioned that the City’s international reputation could be undermined if rules are loosened too much and it becomes seen as a less stable place to do business.
Miles Celic, chief executive of lobby group TheCityUK, said Griffith knew the financial services sector well. “Given the complexity of the financial services bill you need someone who can get their arms around it very quickly,” he noted.
“We have had longstanding relationships with previous incumbents and look forward to developing this with him in the years ahead,” he added.
Following his appointment as financial secretary last week, Griffith said he would work “with the financial sector across the whole of the UK to deliver the government’s agenda of economic growth and higher investment”.
The former Rothschild investment banker struck up a close relationship with Johnson, offering his Westminster home as the base for the former prime minister’s successful 2019 leadership campaign. He became Johnson’s business envoy and was picked to challenge for a safe Conservative seat in the 2019 general election.
Griffith became Johnson’s policy chief in February this year in the final attempt to “reset” the chaotic Downing Street operation. Griffith remained loyal to the end, urging Johnson to fight to save his job.
Former colleagues said Griffith was focused on results at Sky and employed a numbers-driven approach. They noted he brought this to his role as net zero tsar ahead of the COP26 climate conference last year, where he kept a running tally of companies that had signed up the campaign, before he became export minister.
Lord Gerry Grimstone, former trade minister, had been tipped by Truss’s allies as the initial favourite to become City minister, but Grimstone is now said by colleagues to favour a return to the private sector.
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