Who is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Health Secretary, Lytham-born Steve Barclay?

Lytham-born Steve Barclay has been appointed as the country’s new Health Secretary following two shock resignations that have left Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership in peril.

Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 9:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 12:24 pm

Boris Johnson faces the biggest leadership crisis of his premiership after Rishi Sunak quit as Chancellor and Sajid Javid resigned as Health Secretary yesterday.

The pair were replaced on Tuesday evening, with Nadhim Zahawi becoming the new Chancellor and Steve Barclay taking the role of Health and Social Care Secretary.

Here’s a look at how former Fylde rugby star and Ansdell Primary School pupil Mr Barclay has risen the ranks to take his place on the Cabinet.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay who has been made Health Secretary following the resignation of two senior cabinet ministers, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Who is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay?

Hailing from a "working class" Lancashire background, Steve Barclay has been the MP for North East Cambridgshire for 12 years.

Born in Lytham, he is 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”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Steve Barclay leaving Downing Street

The youngest of three brothers, he attended Ansdell County Primary School and King Edward VII School in St Annes.

He and his two older brothers played for Fylde Rugby Club, and his father coached junior rugby there for more than three decades. One of his brothers also captained the first team.

Mr Barclay 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.

Mr Barclay, 50, is married with two children.

What has Mr Barclay said about becoming Health and Social Care Secretary?

Mr Barclay said of his appointment: “It is an honour to take up the position of Health and Social Care Secretary.

"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-19 backlogs, recruit 50,000 more nurses, reform social care and ensure patients across the country can access the care they need.”

What happened in the lead up to Mr Barclay’s new appointment?

Boris Johnson has been left trying to save his premiership after a pair of Cabinet resignations and a series of Government exits threatened to force him from Number 10.

Rishi Sunak quit as Chancellor on Tuesday, alongside Sajid Javid who resigned as Health Secretary, in a move that came just as the Prime Minister was being forced into a humiliating apology to address the row over scandal-hit former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.

The pair were swiftly replaced on Tuesday night, with Nadhim Zahawi promoted to be the new Chancellor and Steve Barclay becoming Health Secretary.

Universities minister Michelle Donelan will take Mr Zahawi’s place as Education Secretary.

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What do we know about Steve Barclay’s political career?

Picked for David Cameron’s “A-list” of favoured candidates, he 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 spending 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, with his financial background making 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.

He served 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 became Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Chief of Staff in February this year, following the resignation of the previous chief over the partygate scandal.

What happens now for Prime Minister Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson is struggling to maintain a grip on power in No 10 as ministers and aides continue to quit his Government in protest at his leadership.

There is no shortage of potential candidates to take over as Prime Minister if Boris Johnson is forced to quit.

Defence Secretary and MP for Wyre and Preston North Ben Wallace is among the favourites to succeed Boris Johnson. Other possible runners and riders are Rishi Sunak; Liz Truss; Sajid Javid; Nadhim Zahawi; Penny Mordaunt; and Jeremy Hunt.