Justine Greening to run for Treasury committee chair

The former Cabinet minister has confirmed she will stand to suceed Nicky Morgan, and is likely to be the frontrunner.

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Justine Greening will run to replace Nicky Morgan as chair of the Treasury select committee, the former Cabinet minister has confirmed to the New Statesman.

A former accountant first elected in 2005, Greening was George Osborne's first City Minister and was subsequently responsible for three spending departments as a Cabinet minister: Transport, International Development and Education.

Having resigned from Cabinet rather than accept a move to Work and Pensions Secretary in January 2018, Greening has since emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of the government line on Brexit and voted against the withdrawal agreement three times. An avowed opponent of no-deal, she is one of the few supporters of a second referendum on the Conservative benches.

A source close to Greening described the Treasury as the “great unreformed department” and suggested she would seek to examine why its current approach to managing the economy did not drive social mobility as chair. Several of its members are understood to have asked her to run.

Her Brexit stance and reputation for independent thinking forged in 18 months on the backbenchers is likely to stand in her better stead to win support from Labour MPs than the three other declared candidates: Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister and hardline Eurosceptic; Harriet Baldwin, another former City Minister who was sacked from her Foreign Office post by Boris Johnson on Thursday; and Mark Garnier, the former International Trade minister.

Remainers on the opposition benches look set to throw their weight behind her candidacy, which if successful would give opponents of no-deal a powerful pulpit from which to scrutinise Boris Johnson. “Justine will win the Tory moderates and most of us,” one said. “Given it has to be a Conservative, she’s the best choice.” Paradoxically, however, that reputation may mean she has a tougher time winning over some of her Tory colleagues.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent. 

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