Treasury minister David Gauke stays close to Ipswich roots
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:08 07 November 2016
When Prime Minister Theresa May outlined her first cabinet in July, there were two seats around the table occupied by MPs with a strong Ipswich connection.
The town’s MP Ben Gummer has a seat at the table as Cabinet Office Minister – but he is joined there by former Northgate High School student David Gauke who was born in the town and was promoted to become Chief Secretary of the Treasury.
He was back in his home town to address a meeting of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce marking its fifth anniversary.
Mr Gauke, who is now 45, was a student at Northgate in the late 1980s – and his family remain friends with former head teacher Neil Watts.
After he left Northgate Mr Gauke went to Oxford University and then to law school before becoming a solicitor.
From Northgate to Westminster
David Gauke’s love of politics was given a flying start at Northgate where he studied the subject in the sixth form – and had his first visit to the House of Commons.
He said: “I was able to watch Margaret Thatcher do Prime Minister’s Questions at the Despatch Box and that certainly whetted my appetite for a political career.”
The school still sometimes takes politics students to see parliament in action – and Mr Gauke tries to retain the link.
“Wherever possible when Northgate have been visiting I have tried to call in and say hello,” he said.
His love of politics started at an early age: “I’ve always been interested in how the world works, in current affairs, in politics.
“Studying government and politics at Northgate certainly increased that interest and when I was about to leave university I took a year off before going to law school and I saw an advert for an MP’s researcher which I applied for and got – so I got that experience.”
He worked as a solicitor in London, but after getting married and starting a family they moved to Hertfordshire in 2002 – and shortly afterwards the local MP (in a safe seat) announced he would be standing down at the next election, which was in 2005.
“I thought I’ll apply for this and there were 228 applicants but I think I got an interview on the basis I lived locally and from then on was very fortunate to be selected.”
In 2005 he was elected as Conservative MP for the South West Hertfordshire constituency – a seat he held at the 2010 and 2015 general elections.
But he has never lost his links with Ipswich – his mother still lives in the town and he remains a supporter of the Tractor Boys.
He joined the government with the election of the coalition in 2010 as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. He was promoted to be Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 2014.
Those jobs are not of cabinet rank, but his promotion in July took him to the top table.
“I had two jobs in the Treasury, but both of them were essentially being the minister for tax. I’ve spent six years collecting the money coming in and the last few months have been controlling the money going out.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury is the minister responsible for government spending and previous holders of the role have had a reputation for refusing their fellow cabinet members’ requests for funds.
He loves his work in the Treasury: “I find it absolutely fascinating. You are right at the heart of what is going on, particularly for the last six and a half years when the economy has been at the centre of everything.
“Whether it is tax policy or whether you are dealing with public spending, you are dealing with millions of people’s lives.”
He has seen many changes to Ipswich during his visits to the town over the years – and feels it is on course to develop strongly over the next few years.
He said: “I’m on very good terms with Ben (Gummer) and he keeps me up to date with what is happening in the town.”