The UK science community has praised the contribution of David Willetts in the role of the Science and Universities Minister, after information emerged that he had resigned rather than being sacked by David Cameron.
Having served as the UK’s Science and Universities minister since the formation of David Cameron’s government in 2010, Willetts has been commended for standing up for scientists like no other minister before him, despite not having background in science and technology.
"David Willetts is one of the UK's sharpest and most talented politicians; we've been extraordinarily privileged to have him as the UK's science minister for the past four years,” said Imran Khan, chief executive of the British Science Association, after learning that Willetts, who helped to promote cooperation between British academia and industry, had resigned.
"We in the science sector like to moan about there not being enough scientists in Parliament, but it was obvious from early on that Willetts - despite not having had much to do with science previously - developed a genuine passion for the subject.”
Known in the Conservative Party as "two brains", Willetts is thought to be behind David Cameron’s doctrine of ‘modern conservatism’ - combining free-market capitalism with social conscience.
"David Willetts was seen throughout the science community as an excellent minister - he has been an intelligent advocate for science who really enjoyed his brief, and he worked hard to make the case that science has a strong role to play in our future prosperity and should be adequately supported,” said John Womersley, head of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which provides Government funding for big science projects in the fields of nuclear and particle physics, space and astronomy.
"His commitment to new capital investment has given a major boost to science projects and I very much hope his departure doesn't in any way compromise the Government's commitments in this area."
Willetts will be replaced by Greg Clark, who keeps his role as Minister of State for the Cabinet Office responsible for cities and local growth.