Environment Minister Therese Coffey has submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, expressing her desire to “step back from government” after serving as a minister since July 2014. The announcement comes amidst a significant cabinet reshuffle that includes the removal of Suella Braverman as home minister and the appointment of former Prime Minister David Cameron as foreign secretary.
Coffey, who also represents Suffolk Coastal as an MP, took on the role of environment minister in October 2022. Downing Street has revealed that Steve Barclay, the former health secretary and MP for North East Cambridgeshire, will be taking over as the new environment minister.
In her resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Coffey highlighted her extensive ministerial experience, having served under all five Conservative Prime Ministers. She emphasized that now is the appropriate time for her to step away from government responsibilities.
Steve Barclay’s appointment follows Coffey’s tenure, during which key waste and resource sector reforms faced continued delays. Additionally, the failure to establish legally binding targets on waste prevention raised concerns about a “culture of delay” within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as noted by the Environmental Audit Committee.
Despite the challenges, Coffey expressed pride in her years of service, pledging to support the Prime Minister “from the backbenches.” She reflected on her contributions to people, the planet, and prosperity during her various ministerial roles, including serving as Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care under Liz Truss’s leadership.
In a letter responding to Coffey, Sunak thanked her for “dedicated service”.
“You have driven work across government to support the rural economy and taken measures to protect food production here at home,” Sunak said.