Steve Barclay appointed Health Secretary after Sajid Javid resigns

5 July 2022, 20:51 | Updated: 5 July 2022, 22:54

Steve Barclay has been appointed Health Secretary following the resignation of Sajid Javid
Steve Barclay has been appointed Health Secretary following the resignation of Sajid Javid . Picture: Alamy

By Lauren Lewis

Steve Barclay has been appointed Health Secretary following the resignation of Sajid Javid this evening.

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Mr Javid resigned around 6pm over Boris Johnson's appointment of MP Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip despite allegations of inappropriate behaviour against him.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his resignation minutes after Javid and shortly after the Prime Minister issued a grovelling apology for appointing Mr Pincher.

MP for North East Cambridgeshire Steve Barclay, who was previously Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was seen entering Downing Street earlier this evening and will now take over from Javid.

He said it was "an honour" to take up the role of Health Secretary, adding: "Our NHS and social care staff have showed us time and again - throughout the pandemic and beyond - what it means to work with compassion and dedication to transform lives.

"This government is investing more than ever before in our NHS and care services to beat the Covid backlogs, recruit 50,000 more nurses, reform social care and ensure patients across the country can access the care they need."

It comes as Nadhim Zahawi was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer while former Universities Minister Michelle Donelan was announced as the new Education Secretary.

Chris Pincher dramatically quit his role last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private Conservative members' club in London.

The Tory whip was only removed from him on Friday afternoon. The MP for Tamworth has so far resisted pressure to resign.

It was the second time he resigned from the whips' office after Conservative candidate Alex Story accused him of making an inappropriate advance in 2017.

The Pincher scandal is just the latest Mr Johnson has faced during his leadership, with Partygate also causing chaos in Westminster.

The PM also recently faced off a no confidence vote but it appears support in his leadership is dwindling further.

Read more: Read Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid's resignation letters in full

Read more: 'It was the wrong thing to do': PM admits it was a 'mistake' to promote Pincher

Javid and Sunak issued a fierce attack on Mr Johnson's leadership, with Mr Javid saying he "can no longer continue in good conscience".

He added: "I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government. The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country.

"Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.

"Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree.

"I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership - and you have therefore lost my confidence too."

Mr Sunak said that the "public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously", adding that "our approaches are fundamentally too different".

He added: "I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it's not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one...

"I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this."

Mr Johnson's new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has been his chief of staff and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and has also previously served as a Brexit secretary.

Labour greeted Mr Barclay's appointment to the helm of the Health Department by congratulating him as "the shortest serving Health Secretary in history".

Mr Barclay was handed the chief of staff role in February as part of a shake-up of No 10 in response to the partygate scandal.

It came as Mr Johnson promised a "reset" in No 10 after he was left wounded following a swathe of resignations from among his aides and longer-term concerns over the cost of living, sleaze allegations and the general running of the Downing Street operation.

After a relatively slow start to his ministerial career, Mr Barclay - a Leave supporter - was catapulted to the Cabinet front rank as Brexit Secretary in November 2018.

The son of a trade union official father and a civil servant mother, he has previously described himself as coming from a "working class Northern background" in Lancashire.

The youngest of three brothers, he came from the first generation of his family to go to university, reading history at Cambridge and spending a gap year serving in the Army with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

After training as a lawyer, he worked as regulator for the Financial Services Authority and head of anti-money laundering at Barclays Bank before embarking on a political career.

Picked for David Cameron's "A-list" of favoured candidates, he finally won the seat of North East Cambridgeshire in the 2010 general election having twice stood unsuccessfully for parliament.

Despite his record as a government loyalist, he had to wait until after the following election in 2015 before he made it to the ministerial ranks as a junior whip.

Instead he spent the coalition years building a reputation as a tough and effective interrogator of officials as a member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

During the EU referendum in 2016, he supported the official Vote Leave campaign, after ministers were given the freedom to campaign for either side.

Following the 2017 election, he was finally promoted out of the whips' office by then-prime minister Theresa May who made him her new City minister.

His financial background made him an obvious choice at a time when foreign competitors were looking to take advantage of Brexit to take away business from the Square Mile.

Nevertheless, he served only six months in the Treasury before he was promoted again to minister of state at the Department of Health and Social Care.

After his first Cabinet role as Brexit Secretary, he moved to become chief secretary to the Treasury in February 2020, and was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in September 2021. He is married with two children.