Thirty-two hours after Dominic Raab resigned as Brexit Secretary, Theresa May has managed to find a Brexiteer who is willing to take on the troubled brief. Steve Barclay – the MP for North East Cambridgeshire – is the new Brexit Secretary. He has been promoted from minister of state at the Department of Health and Social Care.
It’s certainly quite a leap and Barclay is the most low profile MP to take on the brief yet. However, the scope of the job has also been reduced. Barclay’s role is to concentrate on domestic preparedness rather than the final stages of the EU negotiation. The expectation is that that part of the negotiations will be led by Theresa May with the help of her top sherpa Olly Robbins. Barclay will, however, be responsible, for no deal planning – which is looking increasingly important.
So, will this be enough to calm nerves? Given that Michael Gove was offered the job and turned it down, the gig can hardly be described as particularly lucrative. As James said on Coffee House Shots, the role of Brexit Secretary shares some similarities with the cursed Defence against the Dark Arts job in Harry Potter – no-one stays in the job very long and it usually ends badly.
While Barclay is by no means a well known figure, the very fact that he is someone who voted Leave is a win for No.10. Having someone who voted for Brexit go out onto the airwaves and make the case for the Brexit deal carries a lot more weight than a Remain voter insisting this is what Brexit looks like.