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New MPs tipped for the top?

John Hess | 16:47 UK time, Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A friend posed me this question the other day: "So, John, who's your tip for the top".

This was no question about the download music charts or the premiership, but the new intake of Conservative MPs from the East Midlands. I speculated in typical political editor fashion and offered a few names.

Now I've had my initial hunch backed by the Prime Minister no less. Confirmation of the new Tories to watch comes in the list of appointments as a PPS, parliamentary private secretary. Being a PPS can be a fairly thankless task. It's often dismissed as simply being a minister's bag handler. As their parliamentary aide, the role is unpaid but it's the gift of a work experience moment for any new MP aspiring for a top job in government.

The latest PPS appointments include two Tories elected for the first time in May's General Election. Erewash MP Jessica Lee is to be the PPS to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. As a trained barrister she is ideally suited to this role.

Loughborough's Nicky Morgan, a former solicitor, has been appointed PPS to the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

Getting the nod to become a PPS is a sign that David Cameron sees some potential in Nicky Morgan and Jessica Lee. This Prime Minister has hopes of winning a second term in power, this time leading a majority Tory administration.

But the fact that it's taken this long for the Prime Minister to complete his list of PPS appointments is a sign of the political delicacy involved in governing with his Lib Dem coalition partners.

That delicacy may also limit the churn that usually offers a quick route to the ministerial top table for ambitious new MPs.

But when, and if, David Cameron has ministerial gaps to fill, watch out for the names of Jessica Lee and Nicky Morgan.

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