Conservative MP David Lidington, a long-time friend of Gibraltar, has become Theresa May’s right-hand man in a reshuffle forced by the resignation of Damian Green after he admitted lying over pornography on his office computer.
After a brief stint as justice secretary, Mr Lidington has taken on the role of Minister for the Cabinet Office, although he has not been handed the title of First Secretary of State which marked Mr Green as Mrs May’s effective deputy.
Despite not having the prestige of the de facto deputy prime minister role, Mr Lidington’s new job will hand him significant power as chairman of a number of important sub-committees.
The move was announced as part of Mrs May’s biggest reshuffle since taking office in 2016, although senior ministers including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit Secretary David Davis are all keeping their current jobs.
Yesterday Chief Minister Fabian Picardo congratulated Mr Lidington publicly on his appointment, which he said was good for Gibraltar.
“Everyone will join me in congratulating long-term friend of the Rock David Lidington…for his move to the important role of Minister for the Cabinet Office,” Mr Picardo said on Twitter.
As a former Minister for Europe in David Cameron’s government, Mr Lidington worked closely with the Gibraltar Government on a number of different issues, including the UK’s response to Spanish incursions and Brexit issues in run-up to the EU referendum in 2016.
Last night Mr Picardo said he had written personally to Mr Lidington following the announcement.
“It is very good for Gibraltar that some like him, who knows and understands our needs and sensitivities, will now chair or be a member of some of the most relevant Cabinet committees on Brexit,” Mr Picardo told the Chronicle.
“It’s a very good move for Gibraltar.”
A history buff, Mr Lidington will hope his belief that Tudor court politics is a “pretty good guide to life in Westminster today” means he is well prepared for the power struggles that can dominate a minority government.
The former Europe minister, who helped David Cameron renegotiate Britain’s EU membership, campaigned for Remain in the referendum and said in November: “I haven’t changed my view about the stand that I took during the referendum”.
A veteran of John Major’s administration, Mr Lidington has held a number of roles, including Foreign Office minister and leader of the House.
The father of four, who worked for BP and mining firm Rio Tinto before entering Parliament, boasts of having twice captained a champion team on University Challenge, leading Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to victory in 1979 and repeating the success in 2002 in a tournament to mark the 40th anniversary of the show.