Cabinet Reshuffle: Therese Coffey steps down, replaced by former Health Secretary Steve Barclay

Breaking: Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has resigned and been succeeded by ex-Health Secretary Steve Barclay, the Transport Minister has also resigned and Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been sacked and replaced by former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Cabinet Reshuffle: Therese Coffey steps down, replaced by former Health Secretary Steve Barclay

Images: Parliament UK

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a significant cabinet reshuffle again, making it the third of its sort in his year-long reign. The reshuffle has set off a domino effect, beginning with Braverman as the first to be sacked, followed by the Housing Minister.

The reshuffle has also witnessed former Prime Minister David Cameron re-enter the political arena after a prolonged hiatus, taking over Cleverly’s previous role as the Foreign Secretary, which could have some implications for the UK’s COP28 representations.

Therese Coffey OUT…

Therese Coffey has stepped down from her role as the Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), stating: “it’s the right time to step back from Government”.

During Coffey’s time at Defra, the Government published its long-awaited Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) to improve nature across the UK, launched the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures in the UK to improve nature-related disclosure, and introduced the Plan for Water to accelerate the delivery of key projects intended to improve water quality, boost water security and/or conserve and restore nature.

However, as per the report from the Office for Environment Protection (OEP), Defra under Coffey’s leadership did not manage to conduct a single post-implementation review of its environmental laws within the specified timeframe.

The Department has also recently been embroiled in legal proceedings with the UK’s Environment Agency (EA) and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs—Coffey at the time—accused of failing to conduct adequate testing for microplastics and harmful chemicals in sewage sludge used for land spreading.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Coffey said: “I look forward to supporting you from the backbenches and working together for Conservative majority at the next election, which I believe to be profoundly in the national interest.”

Steve Barclay IN…

Former Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been appointed as the new Environment Secretary, following Thérèse Coffey’s resignation.

Barclay served as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care under Rishi Sunak from October 2022 to November 2023. Prior to that, he held the same position under Boris Johnson from July to September 2022.

During his tenure, WHO and the NHS announced a formal partnership to support accelerated decarbonisation of the global healthcare systems and support those countries that had made net-zero pledges in the healthcare sector.

The think tank Green Alliance has welcomed Barclay in his new position stating that “Defra has a special role in championing ambitious environmental action across government.”

WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: “We urge him to hit the ground running and act immediately to put the UK back on track to meet its environmental and climate commitments. He must recognise that the costs of inaction on climate and nature are high and will be borne by ordinary households up and down the UK.

This new appointment must not be an excuse for new delays.”

Suella Braverman OUT…

The former Home Secretary had been facing mounting pressure after penning an article alleging police bias towards ‘pro-Palestinian mobs’ ahead of the Armistice Day march. She expressed concern that protest scenes resembled those witnessed in Northern Ireland.

Her comments, featured in a Times article, were accused of fuelling violence incited by far-Right counter-protesters on Saturday. Subsequently, it was revealed that Downing Street had not approved Braverman’s article.

This constitutes the second instance in which Braverman was compelled to step down. Initially appointed as home secretary by Liz Truss in September 2022, she resigned from her position for breaching ministerial rules by sending an official document from her personal email. Six days later, Rishi Sunak restored her to the position.

Commenting on being sacked, Braverman said: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary. I will have more to say in due course.”

James Cleverly IN…

Cleverly has taken reigns as the Home Secretary. He was appointed Foreign Secretary by ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss last year and re-appointed into Sunak’s cabinet shortly after Truss resigned.

During his tenure as Foreign Secretary, Cleverly repeatedly labelled countries with human rights concerns as potential strategic partners.

In his first statement as the Home Secretary, Cleverly said: “It is an honour to be appointed as Home Secretary. The goal is clear. My job is to keep people in this country safe.”

David Cameron IN…

Prime Minister Sunak has reintroduced David Cameron to the political arena, appointing him as the new Foreign Secretary in the recent reshuffle. This marks Cameron’s first foray into frontline politics in the past seven years.

Cameron said: “While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience – as Conservative Leader for eleven years and Prime Minister for six – will assist me in helping the prime minister.”

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Cameron achieved a 15% reduction in national carbon emissions, highlighted the perils of climate change, advocated for the adoption of renewable energy sources, and played a role in the elimination of coal from the UK grid. However, he also called the 2016 referendum that led to Brexit, and a subsequent inflationary pressure.

Now, amidst the persisting conflicts in the Middle East and the Russia-Ukraine tensions, coupled with the upcoming COP28 summit following the UK’s recent rollbacks on net-zero commitments, Cameron has assumed leadership during a challenging period.

On Cameron’s appointment as the Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper said: “Given the challenges facing us with the war in Ukraine and what’s going on in the Middle East, having a really experienced person coming in… is an excellent move.”

Nevertheless, green groups have voiced discontentment with Cameron’s return to office.

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “This is a slap in the face to everyone who has had to endure the disaster of Brexit. We remember the cuts and austerity that he inflicted on the most marginalised communities.

“From the cost-of-living disaster to their attacks on climate campaigners, refugees, the homeless and worker’s rights, the end of this Tory government can’t come soon enough.”

Jesse Norman OUT…

Norman, the Minister of State in the Department for Transport (Dft), has resigned, stating that he gave notice to the government whips “several months ago”.

In his tenure, Dft launched the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, a key net-zero policy requiring automakers to keep decreasing the number of petrol and diesel cars they manufacture, in a bid to decarbonise road transport.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has not yet officially confirmed the release of a new Low-Carbon Fuels Strategy, which was initially slated for the year’s end.

Norman said: “I am especially glad to have laid the ZEV mandate…which I believe will be seen as fundamentally important long-term reform.”

Mark Harper continues to serve as the Transport Secretary.

George Freeman OUT…

Science Minister George Freeman has resigned from his position as a science minister as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.

Freeman stated that he made this decision “with a heavy heart” but had previously agreed in September to step down during the next reshuffle, which the Prime Minister executed on Monday.

Freeman mentioned that he chose to leave his ministerial role in the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology to “prioritise my health, family well-being, and life beyond the front bench”.

This is a live story and will be updated with new announcements. 

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