Prime Minister appoints Lytham born MP Steve Barclay as his Chief of Staff

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

By Aimee Seddon
Sunday, 13th February 2022, 9:44 am
Updated Monday, 14th February 2022, 9:31 am

Boris Johnson has announced that Lytham St Annes born MP Steve Barclay has been appointed his new Chief of Staff, following the resignation of the previous chief over the partygate scandal.

A former Brexit secretary and trained lawyer, Mr Barclay described it as “an honour” to be given the role alongside his current job as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and he will be the first serving MP to hold this position.

The Prime Minister said Mr Barclay will be “in charge of integrating the new Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office, driving the Government’s agenda more efficiently and ensuring it is better aligned with the Cabinet and backbenchers”.

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Steve Barclay MP is the current Duchy of Lancaster but has previously served as Brexit Secretary amongst other roles.

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Mr Barclay, 49 who is married with two children, is reportedly seen as a safe pair of hands, but as an ally of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, his appointment might act to thaw reported tensions between the PM and the Chancellor.

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 attended King Edward VII School in Lytham and 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 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.