Last week, the Prime Minister named Robert Jenrick and Will Quince as Ministers of State in Therese Coffey’s new Health team. It is expected that Mr Jenrick will take the more senior role as the Secretary of State’s deputy.
Robert Jenrick, MP for Newark since 2014, is one of the few Rishi Sunak supporters given prominent roles in Liz Truss’s new Government. He has held a more senior post before, having served as Boris Johnson’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government between 2019-21. He also worked in the Treasury during Theresa May’s premiership.
His high-flyer status was cemented by being Theresa May’s youngest minister and Boris Johnson’s youngest Cabinet member. Mr Jenrick does have some political experience in the health sphere, as he was a member of the Health and Social Care Committee between 2014-15, shortly after his election.
Ideologically, he embodies the ethos of Liz Truss’s Government. A self-proclaimed Thatcherite, he has advocated for lower taxes and regulation – both key missions for the new Government. Mr Jenrick was heavily involved in the Covid-19 response, at times acting as a principal spokesperson at No. 10 press conferences. As part of his Cabinet role, he established the Shielding Programme for the 3.5 million most vulnerable and implemented business support schemes during the pandemic.
Will Quince, MP for Colchester since 2015, has worked in both the Departments of Education and Work and Pensions, but has not previously held a health post. However, he has demonstrated a long-term interest in health issues throughout his time in Parliament.
He has been outspoken on the issues of mental health and women’s health. On the latter, he strongly encouraged his constituents to provide feedback for the Women’s Health Strategy, published this year, and visited his local hospital’s maternity unit to discuss women’s experiences of using the NHS. This hospital, Colchester General Hospital, has enjoyed Mr Quince’s support in Parliament – securing £35 million from the Government to restructure the hospital.
Tackling obesity remains one of Mr Quince’s passions, citing Boris Johnson’s near-death experience with COVID – the severity of which was partly attributed to the Prime Minister’s weight – as a personal wake-up call. He subsequently lost six and a half stone in one year. He has claimed that the UK is facing an obesity crisis and has called for the Government to support people to lose weight and stay fit. Given it is widely rumoured the new Government seeks to overturn ‘nanny state’ advice and taxes on highly calorific food and drinks, we will have to wait to see if Mr Quince fights for this issue in his department.