Business grandees shun Cameron over trade job

More than three months after the coalition Government was formed, and ministerial jobs were divided up between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, David Cameron's administration has still not appointed a trade minister to promote UK business abroad.

Mr Cameron has made trade one of his top priorities since coming into office in May, yet after almost 100 days in power, he has failed to attract anyone suitable for the brief.

The Government has made no secret of its intention to appoint an industry grandee to the post, but so far it has been unsuccessful it prising anyone from a better-paid job in the City.

The last Labour trade minister, Lord Davies, who is the former chairman of Standard Chartered bank, declined an offer from Mr Cameron to continue in the job after the election.

Two months ago, the Prime Minister was also rebuffed by Sir John Rose, the chief executive of engineering group Rolls-Royce.

At the time, the Government said that it hoped to appoint a minister, "reasonably soon". It admitted that other leading business figures had also been approached about the job, but had turned it down.

The vacancy is causing increased embarrassment to the Government, especially as no minister had been appointed ahead of last month's high-profile trade mission to India, led by Mr Cameron.

A Downing Street spokesman said on Friday that "an announcement will be made in due course". There was no indication that a potential candidate has been identified.

The shadow Secretary of State for Business, Pat McFadden, said that the failure to make an appointment was extraordinary. "For a Government that says it wants to rebalance the economy and promote trade, the failure to appoint a minister to oversee trade is extraordinary," he said. "British business deserves better. The situation is that we don't have any minister batting for British trade abroad and the longer this goes on, the more unacceptable it is."

While a considerable drop in salary is understood to have dissuaded some of the possible candidates, others have baulked at he idea of putting their assets into a blind trust. Some candidates are said to be wary of the increased scrutiny they would be subjected to in the role.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which promotes UK business interest overseas, will say today that the new Government is performing well, but will lament the lack of a trade minister.

"Business wants to see more progress in areas such as international trade," said David Frost, the BCC's director general. "While the Prime Minister has led a trade mission to India, we have not yet seen the appointment of a dedicated trade minister, nor a focused strategy for a strong export economy."

During a trip to China in July, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said that he was "banging the drum" for British trade. But with other distractions, not least the ongoing war in Afghanistan, his department will be unable to fill the gap left by the vacant position for long.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk