Andrew Tyrie, the former Conservative MP and chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, is being lined up to head Britain’s main competition regulator.
Sky News has learnt that Greg Clark, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, is keen to appoint Mr Tyrie as the next chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
A process to recruit a successor to Lord Currie, the CMA’s current chairman, has been underway since the autumn, with a deadline for applications for the post in the new year.
Mr Tyrie would be an intriguing but possibly contentious choice for the job, which pays a salary of up to £160,000, according to a Government recruitment advertisement.
The former Tory MP for Chichester, who stepped down at this year’s General Election, could be seen as an explicitly political choice for a role which is supposed to be steadfastly neutral.
Mr Tyrie has been pushed by some City stakeholders as a potential chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), but any application for the CMA role would mean he is unlikely to pursue the alternative post.
Sources said that Mr Tyrie had spoken to both Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, and Mr Clark about the chairmanship of the competition regulator.
One insider described him on Friday as “a frontrunner” for the job.
The Business Secretary is said to be keen on seeing Mr Tyrie in the role amid a continued perception of dissatisfaction in ministerial ranks about the regulator’s handling of key probes into the banking and energy markets.
Both investigations stopped short of recommending the most draconian measures favoured by some stakeholders, prompting Theresa May – in the case of the energy sector – to go further by unveiling plans for a formal price cap.
The CMA is facing a demanding period in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the UK’s departure from the European Union because of an increase in its post-Brexit remit.
The UK watchdog will be required to adjudicate on mergers which are presently under the jurisdiction of the European Commission, as well as many of the corporate competition issues currently overseen by Brussels.
In his resignation statement in September, Lord Currie alluded to this, saying: “Brexit is likely to generate a big increase in the CMA’s workload and its role in the world, and I owe it to my successor to allow them enough time to be involved in shaping its plans to respond to that challenge, and then take the organisation into the next phase of its development.”
Mr Tyrie was one of Parliament’s most effective performers during the latter part of his career as an MP, helping to bring about much of the reform to British banking that was formulated after the 2008 financial crisis.
As chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards set up after the Libor rate rigging scandal, he devised the new oversight framework to regulate the conduct of senior bankers.
Since stepping down as an MP, Mr Tyrie has shown an interest in establishing a body similar to the Banking Standards Board, which emerged several years after the banking crisis, for the under-fire audit profession.
The CMA would present him with a vigorous intellectual challenge as it expands its post-Brexit role, although he would not be involved in individual corporate or sector-wide competition investigations.
Current cases consuming the watchdog including 21st Century Fox’s bid to acquire Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, and a number of enforcement actions relating to NHS drugs suppliers.
Other sector-wide inquiries include a consumer law investigation into hotel booking sites announced in October.
It was unclear on Friday who the list of applicants for the CMA chairmanship might include.
More from Business
Mr Clark will play an important – though not the only – role in selecting Lord Currie’s successor, with an announcement likely in the spring.
A spokeswoman for the Business Department declined to comment, while Mr Tyrie could not be reached.