THE new Minister of State for International Trade will be batting for Bournemouth when he drums up business across the world.

This is not a huge surprise as the minister in question is Bournemouth West MP, Conor Burns.

And he intends to put Bournemouth (and the conurbation and Dorset more generally) as well as Britain, on the international trade map.

Minister Burns (to use the Whitehall parlance) is two weeks into the job after being appointed to government by his close colleague and fellow Brexiter, Boris Johnson.

He was a supporter of the new Prime Minister when it was a “minority sport” and admits ministerial life has been a steep learning curve.

“International trade is a complicated business. I have a lot to get to grips with,” he said.

The Daily Echo caught up with Mr Burns at the department in King Charles Street - his office has glimpses of Downing Street.

There is already a framed print of Bournemouth Pier on the wall.

On his desk the red box is open and a small sign reads: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Apparently this is a Reaganism.

In normal times, the Department for International Trade is one of the most important in government.

These are anything but normal times, and with what is looming, the DIT has assumed an absolutely huge significance.

So we start on the thorny subject of Brexit.

As a leaver, unsurprisingly he does not think Parliament can prevent a no deal, although he stresses no deal is not the option anyone actually wants.

He still thinks there is time for an agreement to be reached.

For Parliament to try to block Brexit against the wishes of the voters would be “democratically and constitutionally incredibly dangerous”.

If there was a successful vote of no confidence in the government, there would be 14 days for others to try to form an administration that would command a majority in the Commons.

He reflected: “If no-one else can and there is still no confidence in the Prime Minister, we will be in a different scenario.” A general election.

It has been a week where concerns about supplies of food and medicines and a whole host of other no deal issues have been ramped up by the big supermarket retailers, road haulage bosses and others. Mr Burns: “I am very alive to the concerns..... but there has been a change of government not just a reshuffle and there is a completely new approach to preparing for no deal.

“Everything has been stepped up and there is a whole new tone, attitude, behaviour and actions.

“We are in a much better shape than we were even a fortnight ago and I am confident that the more extreme warnings are without foundation. But can I guarantee there won’t be some disruption in the event of no deal? No I can’t because that would be dishonest.”

His role will be central to securing continuity agreements with countries the UK has dealt with through the EU and new free trade agreements elsewhere in the world. He has made his first priorities closer to home. Scotland and Wales last week. Northern Ireland is next.

Trips are being lined up to Brazil, Chile and Vietnam.

“I do not to travel for the sake of travelling,” he said. “I want outcomes.”

While a lot has changed in the past two weeks, Mr Burns insists one thing has not. “I have reminded my departmental team I am here only because I am the Member of Parliament for Bournemouth West.”

He says the town and wider conurbation has an important international dimension from its finance sector, to tourism, overseas students and the two universities.

“I will be my using my platform to talk about my experiences in Dorset and do whatever I can to help the Dorset economy grow.

"The role of Minister of State here is a massive opportunity to promote Britain. To be paid to do this job is a dream.

"Whatever happens after October there will be a change in our perspective on global trade. It is very exciting.”

Town's MPs head in opposite directions

THE revolving door nature of British government and politics was neatly illustrated by the contrasting fortunes of Bournemouth’s two Conservative Members of Parliament in the hours after Mr Johnson became Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago.

Mr Burns took up his first ministerial post at international trade.

Going the other way out of Whitehall, a short time later was his Bournemouth East colleague Tobias Ellwood.

Mr Ellwood, a former army officer, was sacked by Mr Johnson from his position as defence minister in what was effectively almost complete change of government as the Brexit wing of the Conservative party took full control. Such is the swift, brutal reality of power.

The appointment of Minister Burns was no surprise.

The 46-year-old Belfast-born, Bournemouth West MP, has been one of Boris Johnson’s closest aides in the past couple of years.

He has rarely been far from his side and was at the heart of the new Prime Minister’s strategy team. He played a key role in Mr Johnson’s campaign for Downing Street. He is of course an ardent supporter of leaving the European Union.

Mr Ellwood, who served as a minister from 2014, first at the Foreign Office and then at Defence, was a remainer and has consistently warned that a no deal exit from the European Union would be a disaster. He did not back Boris Johnson for the Conservative leadership. Despite being universally hailed a hero for his attempts to save the life of PC Keith Palmer in the Westminster terrorist attack, his departure was no surprise once it became clear that Boris Johnson had changed the government and not just implemented a reshuffle.

Mr Burns was first elected to Parliament for Bournemouth West in 2010 succeeding Sir John Butterfill.

He previously unsuccessfully fought the Eastleigh seat in 2001 and 2005, on the second occasion being defeated by Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne by just 568 votes.

He is a graduate in Modern History and Politics from Southampton University.

He resigned from his role of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2012 over the issue of Lords reform and then again as PPS to Boris Johnson when he quit as Foreign Secretary in July 2018.

Minister Burns has big plans to develop international trade.

But given no-one has any real idea what will happen between now and October 31, it is unlikely he (or anyone else in the government for that matter) is looking too far ahead at this precise moment, privately at least.