Former minister Mark Garnier to run for Treasury committee chair

The ex-International Trade minister is the third Tory MP to formally declare their candidacy. 

NS

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Former minister Mark Garnier is the third Conservative backbencher in the running for the vacant chairmanship of the Treasury select committee, the Wyre Forest MP has told the New Statesman.

The former International Trade minister, who was an investment banker before entering parliament in 2010, told the NS he will enter the race to succeed Nicky Morgan, who was promoted to Cabinet as Culture Secretary last week. The NS understands that Garnier’s bid will focus on regulatory reform of the financial system; emerging trends in the financial sector, such as cryptocurrencies and fintech; and the government’s proposals on Brexit.

He will pledge to investigate spending on Brexit and no-deal preparations against Boris Johnson’s pledges to build a Global Britain and “turbo-charge” the domestic economy, as well as mitigation measures for the negative impacts of no-deal. 

A Remainer, Garnier voted for the withdrawal agreement three times and supported Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaign. He was dismissed from government in Theresa May’s January 2018 reshuffle, having been cleared the previous month of a breach of the ministerial code over a 2010 incident, for which he has since apologised, in which he asked his Commons secretary to buy sex toys.

Though some committee chairs have used their posts to advance their own political positions, Garnier, who was a member of both the Treasury committee and Parliamentary Banking Commission between 2010 and 2016, will pitch himself as a scrutineer of government policy and not as an alternative policy maker.

Garnier told the NS: “I look forward to entering the challenge to be the next chairman of one of Parliament's most important committees. Experience and a grasp of the detail are important qualifications at this challenging period of economic change.”

His two declared rivals for the position, Steve Baker and Harriett Baldwin, are also members of the 2010 intake with backgrounds in financial services. Baldwin and Garnier both risk being outflanked by a more overt Remainer - the position Morgan occupied in 2017, when she beat Jacob Rees-Mogg to the chairmanship - who would have a greater appeal to the Labour MPs whose votes will likely determine the victor.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.