More Defra upheaval as Coffey departs

Resources Minister Therese Coffey has been appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following Amber Rudd’s departure from the Cabinet, leaving no minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) directly responsible for resources and waste.

Coffey, who had only recently been made a Minister of State at Defra, replaces Rudd following the former Home Secretary’s decision to resign from her position in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over her opposition to Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy.

Coffey’s departure from Defra will raise concerns in the resources and waste industry regarding the direction of travel of government waste policy. Coffey, along with former Environment Secretary Michael Gove, was heavily involved in developing and bringing forward the Resources and Waste Strategy, the most significant piece of waste policy in England in the past decade.

Therese Coffey giving evidence to the EACWith both Gove and Coffey moving on from Defra, the industry faces an anxious wait to discover who will be handed the resources and waste brief and whether the momentum behind the strategy generated by the previous ministerial team can be maintained.

Coffey, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, has been an MP since 2010, sitting on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee between 2010 and 2012, before being appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to then Minister for Business and Energy, Michael Fallon.

After serving as an Assistant Government Whip in 2014, she acted as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons under David Cameron between 2015 and 2016, before moving to Defra as an Under Parliamentary Secretary of State, taking over the resources and waste portfolio from Rory Stewart following Theresa May’s appointment as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.

The remaining ministers in Defra are Theresa Villiers, who was appointed Secretary of State following Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, George Eustice, Minister of State, Zac Goldsmith, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, and Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Defra parliamentary business in the House of Lords.

A Defra spokesperson said decisions over Coffey’s replacement and who will assume the resources and waste portfolio have yet to be finalised, but assured that these would be made imminently.

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