Ministerial Appointments made by Theresa May as the new British Prime Minister
Various Ministerial appointments made by Theresa May as the new British Prime Minister in July 2016 will have an effect on the Falkland Islands. Leaving aside the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, the key appointment will be that of Sir Alan Duncan KCMG MP, who will be responsible, amongst other issues, for managing UK relations with the Falkland Islands and also with Argentina.
Alan Duncan, appointed on 17 July as Minister of State in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), has a major portfolio, covering relations with countries in Europe and the Americas, defence and international security, including NATO, and the Falkland Islands and Polar Regions. MP for Rutland and Melton since 1992, and a graduate from Oxford and Harvard, he has considerable experience in the oil business, particularly in the Middle East, and in international development, having served as Minister of State in the Department for International Development (DFID) in 2010-14. After that, he served as a backbencher, sitting on the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
It will be interesting to see how well he works with Boris Johnson, whom he publicly denigrated as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate, reportedly describing him as ‘Borisconi’ (by negative comparison with Sr. Berlusconi). Media speculation has it that he was appointed by Theresa May to be her eyes and ears within the FCO. He has yet to visit the Falkland Islands.
Baroness Anelay of St. John’s DBE will cover the UK Overseas Territories, except for the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. But this too will be part of a much wider portfolio. First appointed Minister of State in the FCO in 2014, she was additionally appointed by Theresa May in her July 2016 reshuffle as Minister of State in DFID working to Priti Patel as Secretary of State for International Development. She is the spokesperson for all FCO business in the House of Lords and in the FCO will cover UK relations with Commonwealth countries and the Caribbean as well as the UN and other international organisations.
Michael Fallon, who has been a strong supporter of the Falkland Islands, remains as Secretary of State for Defence. The new Minister for the Armed Forces is Mike Penning MP. Formerly in the Grenadier Guards, he has had previous Ministerial experience in Northern Ireland (2012-14) and in the Home Office and Justice Department (2014-16). A member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Falkland Islands (and separately on Gibraltar), he visited the Falklands on an FIG-sponsored visit in November 2006 and is a regular visitor to Gibraltar.
Other recent appointments have included the new British Ambassador to Argentina, Mark Kent, who took up post in Buenos Aires in July 2016, replacing John Freeman. Fluent in Spanish, Mark Kent has some Latin American experience, having served in Brasilia in 1989-93 and as Commercial Counsellor in Mexico in 2000-04. Most recently, he was our Ambassador to Thailand (2012-16) and before then in Hanoi, Vietnam (2007-10). He will have the delicate task of helping to broaden UK relations with Argentina, without giving any ground to Argentina in its sovereignty claim over the Falkland Islands.