LONDON (Reuters) - Newly re-elected British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed Sajid Javid as his business secretary, handing the challenge of improving the country’s poor productivity record to one of the rising stars of the Conservative Party.
Javid, a 45 year-old former investment banker who is the son of a bus driver, was first elected in 2010 and worked closely with Chancellor George Osborne before becoming culture minister in Cameron’s first government.
Javid worked for Chase Manhattan Bank and Deutsche Bank before starting his career in politics and is widely tipped as a future Conservative Party leader.
In his new role, he will represent the interests of British business ahead of a planned referendum on the country’s membership of the European Union.
Javid takes over the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) from Vince Cable, one of the most senior members of the Liberal Democrat party which supported the Conservatives in Cameron’s 2010-2015 coalition government but is now in opposition after suffering heavy losses in last week’s election.
BIS is responsible for a range of policies affecting British business including support for exporters, skills training and science and research.
Productivity fell in Britain after the financial crisis struck, as it did in other countries. But British productivity in 2013 was almost a third lower than in the United States or Germany.
Britain’s main manufacturing lobby group, EEF, urged Javid to make sure the government delivered long-awaited infrastructure projects such as expanded airport capacity for London and better road and rail links.
EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler also called on Javid to make the case for Britain to stay in the EU when it holds a planned referendum, something Cameron has said he will do by the end of 2017.
“I am sure he understands that the vast majority of businesses he will now be representing in government want Britain to remain at the heart of a reformed Europe,” Scuoler said in a statement.
Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison