Therese Coffey has left her Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) post of resources minster to replace Amber Rudd as Work and Pensions Secretary.
Dr Coffey’s departure means that there is currently no minister directly responsible for resources and waste management within Defra, as the Suffolk Coastal MP had been expected to continue in the role, and a replacement has yet to be appointed.
The move was prompted after Ms Rudd resigned the Tory whip and from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet on Saturday night in protest at his handling of Brexit.
Her resignation saw Dr Coffey brought into to the Cabinet, having initially been given a more senior role within Defra by the Prime Minister following his appointment in July (see letsrecycle.com story).
Originally appointed to serve as Under Secretary of State within Defra under Andrea Leadsom in 2016, then later Michael Gove, Dr Coffey was a vocal supporter of Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign this summer.
She was involved in shaping the Resources and Waste Strategy which was released in December 2018, and was expected to continue to oversee the development of the policy brief under the Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers.
Prior to joining Defra, Dr Coffey served as deputy leader of the House of Commons and sat on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee until she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Fallon, the Minister for Business and Energy.
Dr Coffey’s departure from Defra means that the resources and waste brief within the Department remains unfilled, following a delay to the confirmation of ministerial responsibilities in the Department, which had been expected to be finalised last month (see letsrecycle.com story).
Four ministers remain within the Department, including minister of state George Eustice, Zac Goldsmith, in a split role with the Department for International Development covering animal welfare and international forestry, and Lord Gardiner of Kimble, who is the Defra representative in the House of Lords.
Further upheaval in Defra is expected to be met with some concern in the resources and waste sector, as two of the key figures behind the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy Mr Gove and Dr Coffey have now moved on to new government posts. Previously, her reappointment to the Department was described as ‘welcome stability’ by some figures within the sector (see letsrecycle.com story).