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'Polishing Poo' Tory MP handed key Brexit post in Theresa May's reshuffle

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

A prominent Brexiteer who accused David Cameron of "polishing poo" over his EU renegotiation has been handed a plum job overseeing Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Steve Baker, the former chair Conservatives for Britain, has become a parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Exiting the EU in Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle.

A key theme from the ministerial movements has been prominent Remain supporters being shuttled into government - in a hint the Prime Minister is watering down her Brexit stance.

Before Mrs May lost her Commons majority in the general election last Thursday she had signalled she was willing to letthe UK fall back on World Trade Organisation rules, repeatedly arguing: that "no deal is better than a bad deal."

But with her hand severely weakened by the election result, the Prime Minister has been forced to soften her stance and take soundings from pro-Remain MPs in her party.

Alistair Burt and Mark Field, both of whom were prominent Remainers, were appointed to the Foreign Office today.

Another pro-European, Damian Green, was promoted from Work and Pensions to become First Secretary of State - effectively Mrs May’s second in command.

Ousted MP Gavin Barwell was handed a Downing Street job as Mrs May’s chief of staff. He branded Brexit the “politics of hate and division” after the referendum last year.

At the same time key Brexit campaigner Michael Gove was brought back into government as Environment Secretary.

But it is the appointment of Mr Baker which has raised the most eyebrows this afternoon. He was key in mobilising the pro-Brexit Tory MPs in parliament during the referendum campaign.

After former Prime Minister Mr Cameron brought his EU deal back from Brussels ahead of the referendum, Mr Baker accused his colleague David Lidington of trying to talk it up.

“This in-at-all-costs deal looks funny, it smells funny, it might be superficially shiny on the outside but poke it and it’s soft in the middle,” he told the Commons.

“Will my Right Honourable Friend admit to the House that he has been reduced to polishing poo?”

Click here to see PoliticsHome's spreadsheet showing every ministerial position announced so far.

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