LONDON (Reuters) - Former Bank of England policymaker Alok Sharma will replace Greg Clark as Britain’s Business Secretary after Clark resigned on Friday, following a dispute with Prime Minister Theresa May over her preferred Brexit deal.
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Business Secretary Greg Clark arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Sharma, a Conservative Party lawmaker and Oxford graduate who got a first class law degree, has previously worked for two blue-chip companies and retired from the BoE in 2017.
He will face growing pressure to keep up a business-friendly policy stance after the Brexit deal May struck with the European Union on Sunday was shredded by both pro-EU and eurosceptic members of her own party.
“One of my central tasks will be to listen carefully to business, so we can deliver a Brexit deal that is in the national interest and works for business,” Sharma said in a statement from his office on Friday.
May will appoint a new Environment Secretary to replace Michael Gove, a close ally of former Prime Minister David Cameron, as she seeks to unite her party behind a new Brexit deal to replace the one that she has so far struck with the EU.
Sharma, who has been a lawmaker since 2010, has lectured in law and economics at Oxford University.
But unlike the 66-year-old Clark, he was less closely identified with the coalition government that preceded May’s administration, and more closely associated with the opposition Labour Party.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who is now editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, said in a tweet that Sharma “doesn’t always see eye to eye with Remainers but is a loyal, strong and intelligent Tory and will do well as leader.”
The Conservative Party website shows that Sharma, who studied at Cambridge University, was elected to parliament from the constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge, which Osborne represented for many years.
He worked in senior roles for drinks group Diageo (DGE.L) and power equipment maker Siemens (SIEGn.DE) before moving into politics.
Sharma will join May in Brussels on Monday to discuss Britain’s EU exit.