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Reshuffle ridicule: Part and parcel of the Brexit era?

Zak Garner-Purkis

This week we saw a very modern political farce play out, when Chris Grayling was moved from his position of transport secretary to Conservative Party chairman for a mere 10 seconds.

Well that was roughly the length of time it took the Conservatives to delete a tweet that wrongly announced him as the new party chairman.

In the hours that followed the infamous tweet and the official confirmation he was to remain in his post, there was understandably a great deal of uncertainty and confusion.

Perhaps a constant state of uncertainty and confusion is part and parcel of the era of Brexit.

A time in history where nobody, particularly politicians, is really sure of the current state of play, let alone in possession of a plan for what the future holds.

Other highlights of the reshuffle non-event included the Prime Minister being strong-armed by either Jeremy Hunt or Greg Clark (depending on what reports you believe) in to keeping both men in their current roles.

One story was that Greg Clark was left hanging around Number 10 for an hour-and-a-half while Hunt refused to take his job leading the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Unfortunately, the one change in the reshuffle that really affected the construction market was also the source of much head-scratching: the announcement of yet another new housing minister.

For a government with lots of rhetoric on its long-term approach to housing, they’ve burnt through ministers pretty fast, clocking a rate of one a year since 2010. This time it was Dominic Raab taking the post from Alok Sharma, who had held the job for seven months, short even for a housing minister.

And all this is before you start looking at the plans themselves, which might leave you even more worried, especially if you listen to departing National Infrastructure Commissioner Lord Adonis who said the government had “no credible plan for the future of British trade.”

All of which makes it more important that, as an industry, construction can communicate a clear and concise message.

While decisions on big transport projects or housing policy will remain in the hands of government, there are some huge issues where construction’s voice can be heard.

The changes to regulations in the wake of the Grenfell fire and Brexit are two areas where a strong modernising message from the industry can effect positive change.

And with a government that can’t figure out whether it’s transport minister is staying or going, that’s pretty important.

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