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Shock as MP Robert Halfon sacked by PM Theresa May

News / Mon 12th Jun 2017 at 08:03pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has been sacked by prime minister Theresa May from his role as apprenticeships and skills minister.

Mr Halfon will be returning to the back bench after a decision that has come as a great surprise.

Mr Halfon tweeted this evening “It’s been an honour to have served as Apprenticeships Minister. I’m proud we have a record 900K apprentices & to have passed the FE/TE Bill.”

Some have wondered if it is because of a perceived closeness to former chancellor, George Osborne.

Mr Halfon has told the press that he has not been given a reason.

Among the reactions were:

Daily Telegraph’s Sebastian Payne “Stupefying decision to sack @Halfon4Harlow, one of the best Conservatives around. His enthusiasm and radicalism will be sorely missed”.

LBC’s Ian Dale: “Out of government. You have to be kidding”.

Tim Montgomerie: “The one Tory MP who saw the Corbyn phenomenon coming has been sacked by MayHem. She’s even dumber than I thought.”

Stephen Pollard: “Stupefying decision to sack @Halfon4Harlow, one of the best Conservatives around. His enthusiasm and radicalism will be sorely missed”.

Mr Halfon, who took up the role of Apprenticeships and Skills Minister from Nick Boles on July 17, 2016, is well known for his passion for FE and skills and had spent his first year in the job visiting many providers across the country.

His replacement has not been confirmed, but education secretary Justine Greening has kept her position in the cabinet. Ms Greening was appointed secretary of state for education and minister for women and equalities on July 14, 2016.

Mr Halfon has a strong record of interest in the FE sector. At the time he spoke of his enthusiasm for apprenticeships and university technical colleges, and the importance of basic literacy.

The ministerial change comes in the middle of a wide and deep FE reform programme, and Halfon worked on introduction of the apprenticeship levy, college area reviews, devolution of the Adult Education Budget and the launch of a Post-16 Skills Plan.

In his first opinion piece for FE Week in September 2016, he set out his case for “boosting social justice, economic productivity, and our country’s skills base”.

He said at the time: “We cannot treat apprenticeships in isolation as a way to solve the skills gap. “This is why we are building our apprenticeship programme alongside improving careers guidance in schools, boosting the quality of our FE colleges and ensuring we build the clearest paths for technical and vocational education.”

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