In a cabinet reshuffling, Greg Clark, the Conservative MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells, has become the new UK universities and science minister, ScienceInsider reports. He replaces the popular David Willetts and takes on this role in addition to his cities portfolio.
The BBC notes that one of Clark's first steps will have to be to convince the science community that this doubling up of portfolios doesn't mean that science has been downgraded. Additionally, the news service adds that Clark will likely have to explain his support of 2007 motion for government support of homeopathic hospitals; the BBC says it is thought he supported that move because there is a homeopathic hospital in his home constituency.
Prime Minister David Cameron also appointed George Freeman, the MP for Mid Norfolk, to the minister for life science position, a move that Nature says indicates that the science brief may be split.
Willetts, ScienceInsider notes, was popular among UK scientists and policymakers. Willetts had been “an outstanding science minister, respected not only in the UK but throughout the world," says Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society, in a statement, according to Nature.
Clark tweeted that he was "[t]hrilled to be appointed" and would be "building on the work of the brilliant David Willetts."