Amber Rudd’s resignation as Home Secretary has catalysed a ministerial merry-go-round.
Taking Rudd’s place in the Home Office is Sajid Javid, who moves from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). During his time in the department, Javid pushed through shale gas plans in Lancashire, and blocked a coal mine in Northumbria.
His successor, Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire, now takes on the mantle as the Minister with the unenviable task of assuaging local concerns around major energy issues such as fracking, coal mines, and renewable energy developments.
The new minister’s in-tray includes a legal challenge over Javid’s decision to block a new coal mine near the Northumberland beauty spot of Druridge Bay, calls to immediately block a new coal mine at Pont Valley in County Durham, as well as ongoing disputes over local planning processes around fracking sites.
So where does he stand on the issues?
Brokenshire has been an MP since 2005. He stepped down as Northern Ireland Secretary in January 2018 to have a lung operation. He is reportedly recovering well.
Brokenshire voted for the Climate Change Act in 2008.
He voted with the government on three key fracking votes, according to data from TheyWorkForYou: against explicitly requiring an environmental permit for hydraulic fracturing activities, against a moratorium on fracking, and for greater restrictions on fracking in national parks.
Since 2015, he has never rebelled in a parliamentary vote against the government, according to The Public Whip.
He unsuccessfully applied to be a candidate in Maidstone and The Weald constituency back in 2008 — an area that neighbours lots of constituencies in which unconventional exploration may take place.
Brokenshire’s previous employer — law firm Jones Day — has advised and represented numerous shale gas companies in the United States. It has “long-standing relationships within the oil and gas industry, our lawyers have extensive experience involving most of the significant gas and oil shale plays”, according to its website.
In December, the former co-chief of the worldwide energy law practice at Jones Day was appointed chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by Trump — an appointment ThinkProgress described as “riddled with potential conflicts of interest”.
Reacting to the choice, Daniel Sponseller, a Pittsburgh regulatory lawyer said: “You can’t find a law firm more oriented to the energy industry than Jones Day”.
There is no information on whether Brokenshire worked on any deals related to McIntyre or fossil fuel companies.
Brokenshire successfully campaigned against a giant rubbish pile in his constituency that the firm Waste 4 Fuel had intended to burn to produce renewable energy. On a statement on his website, he said: “The resulting smoke, smell and odours drifting across Footscray and Sidcup have been an unpleasant and unwelcome nuisance for local people’, describing it as a ‘blot on the landscape”.
Brokenshire wanted the UK to remain in the EU before the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Image: Home Office/Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0. Updated 30/04/2018: More detail on Jones Day was added.