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Matthew Hancock Replaces Sacked Ed Vaizey As Digital Economy Minister

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Cabinet reshuffle claims another victim as Ed Vaizey leaves government after six years and Matthew Hancock takes over broadband and tech policy

Ed Vaizey has been sacked as Minister for the Digital Economy by new Prime Minister Teresa May and has been replaced by Matthew Hancock, who served as Minister for the Cabinet Office under David Cameron.

Vaizey held the position for six years and oversaw the government’s broadband projects, which have so far connected more than four million homes and businesses to superfast broadband.

However these initiatives have come under frequent criticism from MPs, local government, residents, and businesses, while Vaizey himself admitted in parliament that that the Mobile Infrastructure (MIP) had not been a success.

Ed Vaizey sacked

ed vaizey at pivotal london 2014 © Peter JudgeISP Entanet had called for May to sack Vaizey, claiming he had not engaged with the broadband industry and was by his own admission more ‘artsy’ than technical, while other concerns included how the funding was allocated and what technology should be sued.

However Vaizey had continually defended his record and pointed out Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) was on track to extend fibre coverage to 95 percent of the UK by next year.

“Looking forward to supporting the government from the backbenches, he said on Twitter, confirming what he described as the ‘#vexit# from government. “[Matthew Hancock is a] brilliant appointment. Knows tech sector well and will strongly support arts.”

Industry body TechUK expressed their gratitude for Vaizey’s work in supporting the sector, while John Whittingdale, who himself was sacked as Culture Secretary last week also lamented the decision.

Broadband future

Matthew Hancock“Very sorry to hear my friend [Ed Vaizey] leaving the [government],” Whittingdale tweeted. “Has been terrific champion of arts, creative industries and digital Britain.”

Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for culture, media and sport and a frequent sparring partner of Vaizeys, said he had earned the “respect of many, including me.”

Hancock’s main priorities for broadband will be ensuring the 2017 target for coverage is met and to introduce the proposed 10Mbps universal service obligation (USO) currently under consultation.

“Delighted to be Minister of State for Digital & Culture,” he said, “Energised to take up the challenge to make UK tech & cultural centre of the world.”

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