Britain’s new universities minister Sam Gyimah will be in charge of space

by | Jan 9, 2018 | ESA

The Universities and Science Minister for England, Jo Johnson, who had responsibility tor space under Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has been moved to the Ministry of Transport in Prime Minister Theresa May’s UK government reshuffle. Johnson recently gained plaudits for his stand on defending free speech at universities, but also derision for supporting the appointment of his friend, the risqué journalist and “free schools” proponent, Toby Young, to a new regulatory post in the Office for Students (Young later resigned). Replacing Johnson as the minister in charge of higher education is Sam Gyimah, a former banker at Goldman Sachs. Gyimah also previously studied PPE at Oxford University, and has risen through the ranks of the government including a stint in the Whip’s office and as the Prisons Minister.

Sam Gyimah is obviously bright but has no science background. Courtesy: UK Government

Comment by David Todd: Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s reshuffle of government posts was criticised by some both for its lack of changes at cabinet level (due to her alleged political impotence) and for its much trumpeted “positive discrimination” promotion of women and ethnic minorities into the government’s middle ranks. This pro-diversity move actually ill-serves those who were promoted in this way as it creates doubt about the merit of their promotion. Nevertheless, Sam Gyimah, who is of Ghanaian descent, already had growing reputation for his talent from his past educational and career record. That said, he does not have a scientific background (although he does know about the IT business). Let us hope Sam Gyimah appreciates the new technology and business breakthroughs that have been achieved by the UK space industry. He will have his work cut out maintaining Britain’s place within ESA and its access to the EU space programmes it has participated in (e.g. Galileo), once its break with the EU takes place. 

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