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Amber Rudd waves farewell to a government in crisis

The Work and Pensions Secretary’s decision to quit the Conservatives could be the end of the road for a political prodigy.

Amber Rudd (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Amber Rudd (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By PA Reporters

Amber Rudd’s departure from the Cabinet marks the end of a whirlwind three years at the heart of government for a woman once touted as a future prime minister.

The Hastings and Rye MP was appointed home secretary on July 13 2016 after showing herself to be a staunch supporter during Theresa May’s leadership campaign.

On her watch she faced the Westminster Bridge attack, Manchester Arena attack, and the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, but was sacked in the wake of the Windrush scandal in April 2018.

The fall-out from the controversial crackdown on illegal migrants found that at least 60 UK citizens had been wrongly deported to the Caribbean.

However, an official probe in May last year cleared Ms Rudd of wrongdoing, finding she had been given the wrong advice on the existence of deportation targets by civil servants.

After just six months on the backbenches, she was back in Theresa May’s Cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary after Esther McVey threw in the towel over the draft Brexit deal.

Despite being a vocal Remain campaigner and a critic of Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister re-appointed her as Work and Pensions Secretary in his first Cabinet.

She famously said of Mr Johnson during a television debate: “Boris is the life and soul of the party, but he is not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.”

Perhaps it was her concern for women’s welfare that prompted Mr Johnson to reappoint her to the role of Minister for Women and Equalities, a role she held for four months under Mrs May.

In her resignation letter, she criticised the “culling” of 21 senior Tory rebels who voted against the Government this week.

She wrote: “Britain’s body politic is under attack from both sides of the ideological debate. I will now play whatever role I can to help return it to a better place.”

Ms Rudd went into politics in her 40s, after a career as an investment banker, venture capitalist and financial journalist, to “get a grip on her life”.

She was referred to as “the silver spoon” in the restaurant reviews of the late AA Gill, to whom she was married for five years and with whom she has a son and a daughter.

A former Cheltenham Ladies’ College pupil and Edinburgh University history graduate, she was given a role as an extra in Four Weddings And A Funeral by director Richard Curtis, who said he hired Ms Rudd because “she knew a lot of dukes and earls”.

Former prime minister David Cameron also took a shine to her, placing her on his controversial A-list of candidates, and she took Hastings and Rye from Labour in 2010.

The 55-year-old rose rapidly through the ranks, promoted to parliamentary private secretary to then-chancellor George Osborne two years later.

A job as junior energy minister came in 2014, and she entered Cabinet as secretary of state for energy and climate change in 2015.

Her rise was so swift, some political commentators had her marked up as a potential successor to Mr Cameron.

Following her resignation, Ms Rudd told the Sunday Times she would stand in Hastings and Rye in the next election as an independent conservative.

Ms Rudd might have a fight on her hands – in the 2017 general election she saw her majority reduced to just 346.

PA

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