Thatcher minister appointed to trade post

By staff

Leon Brittan has been appointed as an advisor on trade issues to the coalition government.

The former home secretary, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet until he quit over the Westland affair, is tasked with promoting trade across government departments.

Trade is an early priority for the coalition, with the high profile delegation to India reflecting the importance the new government places on improving Britain’s economic links overseas.

David Cameron has failed to find a well-respected figure from the business world to fill the trade minister role, however. Lord Brittan’s appointment was set to have been unveiled at the same time as the minister’s identity was announced.

“I am delighted that Lord Brittan will bring his unrivalled experience and know-how to what is one of the most important issues we face – to drive forward our ambitious trade agenda,” the prime minister said.

“As we come out of recession it is crucial that we demonstrate that the British economy is open for trade, open for investment and open for business. Crucial not just for our economic growth and the jobs it will create but also to help some of the poorest countries in the world develop too.”

Lord Brittan served as trade and industry secretary in 1985 and 1986 before becoming a European Union commissioner for ten years. He held three roles in Brussels, including the trade commissioner post from 1993 onwards.