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Theresa May names Steve Barclay as new Brexit Secretary after Dominic Raab's resignation

3 min read

Theresa May has named Steve Barclay as her new Brexit Secretary after Dominic Raab stormed out with a blast at her EU deal.

The Leave-supporter steps into the shoes vacated by Mr Raab, who plunged Mrs May's government into turmoil yesterday with a warning her Brexit agreement posed "a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom".

The appointment of Mr Barclay - who has never held a Cabinet-level job and was previously a health minister - comes just hours after Michael Gove turned down the job Mr Raab himself held for just four months.

And it comes hard on the heels of the dramatic Cabinet comeback of Amber Rudd, who takes on the work and pensions brief exited by Esther McVey.

Confirming the appointment, Mrs May's spokesperson said: "He has experience across government, in the whips office, as Economic Secretary at the Treasury,  and also at the Department of Health and Social Care."

They added: "The Prime Minister has a good, strong relationship with all her ministers and she thinks he will do a first-class job."

Mr Barclay's appointment won early backing from Stewart Jackson, the former Tory MP who served as chief of staff to his predecessor-but-one, David Davis.

The arch-Brexiteer predicted Mr Barclay, a former banker, would keep the department "in good hands".


But Labour said the appointment "changes absolutely nothing".

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer blasted: "After two years of negotiation, the Prime Minister has failed to deliver a Brexit deal that can command the support of Parliament. 

"A new face in the Brexit department will do nothing to bring this divided Government back together."

The appointment puts to bed rumours that Mrs May, who initially tapped up Environment Secretary Michael Gove for the job, could disband the Department for Exiting the European Union altogether.

With the Prime Minister insisting MPs either have the choice of backing her deal or leaving the EU without an agreement, Downing Street said the new Brexit Secretary would lead on planning for a no-deal and on getting her deal through Parliament, where she faces an uphill struggle to win support. Mrs May will meanwhile take personal control of remaining talks with the EU.

The appointment comes as speculation continues to mount that Mrs May will face a vote of no confidence from her own MPs in the coming days.

In a bid to shore up her support, Mrs May has also appointed a prominent Remain-backing rebel, Stephen Hammond, to the Health and Social Care job vacated by Mr Barclay.

Kwasi Kwarteng, a Leave-supporter, will meanwhile step into the shoes of Suella Braverman as a minister at the the Brexit department, while former culture minister John Penrose takes on the Northern Ireland Office job left vacant by the resignation of Shailesh Vara.

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