Jeremy Wright MP
Jeremy Wright MP is the new secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

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Wright, the former attorney general and a criminal barrister, was unveiled as secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) to replace Matt Hancock, who moved to become health secretary after just six months heading the DCMS department.

Paper-based licences

Unlike other categories of exports, the export of art, antiques and cultural goods remains a paper-based system, despite requests from art market leaders to speed up the process with a digital alternative.

The pressure to solve the issue has grown with concerns about possible border delays for art and antiques exports to the Continent once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

“One area affecting the art market that falls in the remit of the DCMS, which is increasingly urgent, is the need for making export licensing digital,” chairman of the British Art Market Federation, Anthony Browne, told ATG. “We have been promised this for a number of years and I will be bringing it up with the new minister.”

Browne added: “The reason for the urgency is of course Brexit – we need to ensure exports are not held up on their way to the EU.”

Arts minister Michael Ellis, with whom art market trade bodies liaise regularly, has retained his role, reporting into the new secretary of state for DCMS. Wright is the third culture minister under Prime Minister Theresa May.

Appointment welcomed

Meanwhile, art market trade bodies leaders have welcomed Wright’s new role. "We congratulate Jeremy Wright MP on his appointment and would welcome an early meeting with him to help ensure he understands the issues affecting our trade and industry,” said Marco Forgione, chief executive of dealer body BADA.

He added: “The UK's arts and antiques sector is a global centre of excellence and, as such, could be central in helping recast the economy post-Brexit."