Stephen Barclay appointed UK Brexit secretary as May seeks to steady ship
LONDON — Theresa May appointed two new ministers to her top team Friday, as she sought to steady her government after it was rocked by a string of resignations following the publication of her draft Brexit deal.
Stephen Barclay was appointed Brexit secretary, replacing Dominic Raab, who quit Thursday over what he described as “fatal flaws” in the plan May has negotiated with Brussels.
Like his predecessor, Barclay will lead on planning in the event the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal and on preparations for Brexit at home, giving him little sway over the shape of the deal the U.K. strikes with Brussels. May and the Cabinet Office will continue to take the lead in negotiations.
While Barclay backed Brexit and represents a very Euroskeptic constituency, he did not have a high-profile role during the European Union referendum campaign. He was previously a junior minister in the health and social care department and is not widely known beyond Westminster.
The role was initially offered to Michael Gove, who turned down the job after being told there is no prospect he could renegotiate Mays draft agreement with Brussels.
May also shored up her support in Cabinet by bringing back Amber Rudd as work and pensions secretary, replacing Brexiteer Esther McVey who also quit on Thursday. Rudd, a loyalist who was a leading figure in the campaign to remain in the European Union in 2016, was forced to resign as home secretary over an immigration scandal in April.
Barclay was previously head of anti-money laundering and sanctions at Barclays Bank and also worked for the Financial Services Authority before becoming a member of parliament in 2010. He is the MP for North-East Cambridgeshire, a large agricultural region which includes the area of Fenland, which had the sixth highest share of Leave voters in the country (71.4 percent).
Stephen Hammond replaced Barclay at the department of health, John Penrose was appointed as a minister in the Northern Ireland office and Kwasi Kwarteng moved from the Treasury to the Brexit department.