Nick Boles has announced that he is to leave his role as skills minister.
As Prime Minister David Cameron prepared to tender his resignation, Mr Boles announced on social media that it was “the right time for me to return to the back benches”.
The MP was appointed minister for skills in 2014, with his brief split between the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. He was reappointed following last year’s general election, and given additional responsibilities for trade union and employment law.
In recent weeks, Mr Boles has switched his allegiance between candidates for the Tory leadership. He initially came out strongly in favour of Boris Johnson, writing: "The national interest must come first and [this is] why, in the national interest, we must elect Johnson."
However, three days later, former education secretary Michael Gove announced he was standing, and it was shortly afterwards revealed that Mr Boles would be leading his leadership campaign. Last week Mr Gove was eliminated from the leadership contest, leaving Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom to fight it out for the party leadership. Ms Leadsom subsequently withdrew, leaving the path clear for Ms May to be appointed prime minister.
'I have greatly enjoyed my time as minister for skills'
Writing on Facebook, Mr Boles said: “I have greatly enjoyed my time as minister for skills and minister for planning. I take particular pride in three things: the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, which will encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships and increase spending on apprenticeship training by £1 billion a year by 2020; the development of the government's Skills Plan which heralds a transformation in the status and quality of technical education in England; and the introduction of permitted development rights which have made it possible to convert thousands of under-utilised offices and agricultural buildings into desperately needed housing.”
He added: “I would also like to congratulate Theresa May on becoming prime minister. I am very proud to be a member of the party that has now elected two women to hold this office. I look forward to giving her my full support as she strives to make Britain a place that works for everyone, not just a privileged few. It is a noble ambition and I wish her well.”
Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said: “Nick Boles proved to be a real listener when it came to taking forward the apprenticeship funding reforms that he inherited. He understood that smaller businesses had to stay engaged in the programme and we hope that the next set of levy announcements will confirm this. Training providers also welcomed his strong backing for traineeships. As a reformer, AELP hopes that he will retain an interest in FE and skills from the backbenches. We appreciate everything he has done when government finances elsewhere have been so tight.”
David Hughes, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, also paid tribute to Mr Boles. “Always thought he tried to listen & understand & he was easy to get on with,” he wrote on Twitter.
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