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Margot James appointed digital minister as Hancock is promoted

Margot James has been appointed minister for digital and creative industries, filling the vacancy left by Matt Hancock’s promotion to digital and culture secretary.

The MP for Stourbridge joins the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport from her role as a junior minister at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

James tweeted to say she “really appreciated the opportunity” and knew she had “big shoes to fill”.

She will be tasked with spearheading improvements to the UK’s digital infrastructure, including rolling out full fibre broadband and boosting broadband connection and 4G access in rural areas.

In December, Hancock announced new rules granting consumers the right to demand a broadband connection of 10 Mbps. The government claimed the obligation would provide “certainty”, but it’s not yet clear who will deliver the service.

James will also be expected to move the dial on the rollout of full fibre broadband. Market penetration of full fibre is at three per cent in the UK, compared to 80 per cent in Spain. The government is currently consulting industry on the matter.

TechUK’s CEO, Julian David, welcomed James’s appointment and said she would bring energy and dynamism to the role.

“It is a critical year for the tech sector as we continue to build on the Government’s Digital Strategy, and Brexit negotiations move into Phase 2,” he said. “A continued collaborative relationship with Government and industry will be the key to success.”

James studied economics and government at LSE before joining her father’s business, MJI, in a sales and marketing position. She went on to co-found Shire Health Group, a PR and medical education business, which was sold to WPP in 2004.

She has previously served as assistant government whip and parliamentary private secretary to the Minister for Trade and Investment.