Jo Johnson is new minister covering higher education

The pro-European could be a key appointment in lead up to EU referendum

May 11, 2015

Source: PA

Jo Johnson has been appointed as the new universities and science minister.

Prime minister David Cameron appointed Mr Johnson, who had been leading the Number 10 Policy Unit, in today’s post-election reshuffle.

Mr Johnson, the brother of London mayor Boris, is seen as being on the left of the Conservative Party.

The Orpington MP succeeds Greg Clark, who has been promoted to secretary of state in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Johnson’s reputation as a pro-European is likely to please vice-chancellors, many of whom are concerned by the Tories’ pledge to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership by 2017.

Universities UK has pointed out that British higher education institutions benefit from around £1.2 billion in European research funding each year.

Mr Johnson also co-authored a 2012 Financial Times article calling for overseas students to be taken out of the government’s net migration targets.

That suggests that he may adopt a position that challenges Theresa May, the home secretary, who will take forward the Tory manifesto pledge for further tightening of visa rules for overseas students.

Sajid Javid, a former parliamentary private secretary to George Osborne, was earlier appointed as secretary of state in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Like Mr Javid, Mr Johnson appears to have close links to the chancellor. Mr Johnson and Mr Osborne were members of the Bullingdon Club together at the University of Oxford.

Mr Johnson studied modern history at Oxford, before a spell in investment banking at Deutsche Bank and 13 years at the FT.

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Reader's comments (1)

He is a graduate in modern history and now science minister. I fully expect plenty of "Science dominates the UK political scene" posts from Arts and Humanities colleagues who foresee the return of the Dark Ages.