Has anyone seen Stephen Barclay?

Stephen Barclay Brexit Secretary

You may have noticed that today is a rather big day in the Brexit process. However, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is nowhere to be seen.

Theresa May is in Brussels with other EU leaders. Therefore, it would have been logical for Barclay to appear on the Sunday shows to make the case for her deal. Instead, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was despatched to Marr and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire was on Ridge. Indeed, I cannot actually remember seeing or hearing from Barclay since his appointment.

Stephen Barclay on Twitter, not the airwaves

Instead, of hitting the airwaves, Barclay has been reduced to tweeting his support for the deal:

Stephen Barclay has been reduced to tweeting his support for Theresa May’s deal.

It hardly gives the impression of the Brexit department being at the heart of the Brexit process. Nor does it do anything to dispel the theory that Barclay is little more than a placeholder. He is Secretary of State in name only, there to save May from the embarrassment of not having a Brexit secretary.

No point in DExEU

I understand that ultimately it is the principals that need to sign off on any deal. I understand that it is the Prime Minister who must take overall responsibility for Britain’s departure from the EU. However, it has become increasingly clear that the Department for Exciting the European Union is having almost no influence on the negotiations.

May is something of a control freak, notorious for centralising things. It all begs the question – what was the point of setting up DExEU in the first place? She clearly wanted to run the Brexit process from the start.

Perhaps Stephen Barclay will be the 8:10am interview on the Today programme today. I won’t hold my breathe though.


My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound

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