Reports: Boris Johnson planning to scrap BEIS and re-instate DECC after Brexit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning a sweeping array of reforms to key Government departments after his victory in last week's general election, including the reinstatement of a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), according to several reports.

Reports: Boris Johnson planning to scrap BEIS and re-instate DECC after Brexit

BEIS was established in 2016 - but could be disbanded by the end of 2020

Major media outlets including The Times and The Daily Mail have been told by sources close to Number 10 that Johnson is planning a string of major Whitehall reforms once the Government has passed its Withdrawal Agreement – the document which should, now the Conservatives have a large majority – see the UK leaving the EU by the current 31 January deadline.

The proposed changes include the separation of business-related matters from energy and climate change, to create a structure similar to that instigated by Gordon Brown in 2008.

Until July 2016, DECC and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform existed as two separate entities.

Theresa May scrapped this structure to create the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), claiming that the move would help marry up climate action and business growth.

But her decision was widely criticised by green groups as evidence that the Government had “downgraded” or de-prioritised action on climate issues.

Sources close to Johnson have claimed that he – and key advisor Dominic Cummings – believes re-instating DECC will better position the Government to deliver on the Tories’ campaign promises and priorities, including the delivery of a net-zero national economy by 2050.

This overarching green commitment is bolstered by manifesto pledges around carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS); nuclear fusion; tree planting; energy efficiency; domestic plastics recycling infrastructure and measures incentivising businesses to use recycled materials.

In his victory speech outside 10 Downing Street on Friday (13 December), Johnson promised “colossal new investments in infrastructure, in science, using our incredible technological advantages to make this country the cleanest, greenest on Earth with the most far-reaching environmental programme”.

BEIS declined to comment on the claims. edie has contacted the cabinet office for further information.

Away from BEIS and Defra, Johnson has already confirmed the creation of a new Cabinet committee on climate change, which he will chair. 

Timeline of action

It is understood that Johnson will not begin any major Whitehall overhauls until February – or later if a Withdrawal Agreement is not passed before the current 31 January Brexit deadline.

This week, however, will see a minor reshuffle of the cabinet, after a select few Ministers resigned or failed to be re-elected. In the environmental space, the only change anticipated this week is the replacement of Environment and International Development Minister Zac Goldsmith.

More broadly, Parliament will be formally re-opened on Thursday (19 December) with a speech from the Queen.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill could then be put on the table for MPs as early as Friday (20 December).

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie