New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed gay MP Conor Burns to a ministerial role.
Burns, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth West in southern England, takes on the role of Minister of State for International Trade. He will serve under Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade.
Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the UK on Wednesday following the resignation of Theresa May. The governing Conservative party held a membership ballot. Its members elected Johnson over rival Jeremy Hunt by a ratio of almost 2:1.
Swiftly after taking office, Johnson embarked on a brutal cabinet reshuffle. He axed several ministers who had previously shown support for Hunt or who were staunchly in favour of remaining in the EU.
Johnson was a leading figure in the campaign for Brexit and has promised to get the UK out of the EU on or before of the forthcoming 31 October deadline.
New figures elected to the cabinet include some figures that have opposed LGBTI rights in the past. These include Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education), who voted against marriage equality in 2013. The new Minister for Housing, Esther McVey, also voted twice against marriage equality.
News of Burns’ appointment was made on the Department for International Trade’s official Twitter account. It said: ‘@ConorBurnsUK is the new Minister of State for International Trade. @TradeGovUK is ready to help British firms seize the golden opportunity ahead.’
— Department for International Trade (@tradegovuk) July 25, 2019
Burns retweeted a message of congratulations from Liz Truss. She described Burns as a ‘passionate free-trader’.
Thank you Liz. Really looking forward to working with you https://t.co/0vgv6uUJWS
— Conor Burns (@ConorBurnsUK) July 26, 2019
Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, Burns became an MP in 2010. A Roman Catholic, he voted in favour of same-sex marriage for the UK in 2013, but only once assured that religious institutions would not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages by the legislation.
His new role as Minister of State for International Trade is likely to see Burns thrust into the spotlight. The trade department will play a crucial role in helping negotiate trade deals with countries if they UK succeeds in leaving the EU.
GSN has reached out to Burns for further comment.
Among those to welcome the announcement was the LGBT+ Conservatives group.
Its chairman, Colm Howard-Lloyd, told GSN, ‘International Trade is key to our success as a nation. The Conservative Party has a proud record of also using it to promote the equalities on which we insist and the values we stand for around the world.
‘Our Patron, Conor, will bring a wealth of experience to the role, and I am delighted at his appointment as Minister of State.’
Besides Burns, another openly gay MP, Nick Gibb, retains his cabinet position as Schools Minister.