Defra Secretary Therese Coffey today announced she is stepping back from government, as the Prime Minister reshuffled his top team.

Dr Coffey, who was appointed to the position just over a year ago, said in a letter to Rishi Sunak that it was “now the right time to step back from government”.

The Conservative MP said: “I look forward to supporting you from the backbenches and working together for a Conservative majority at the next election, which I believe to be profoundly in the national interest.”

Ms Coffey, who served briefly as health secretary under Liz Truss, said: “In my years of service and different ministerial posts, I am proud to have delivered for people, the planet and prosperity throughout that time.

“Turning ambition into action and delivery has been the hallmark of my service.

“I want to thank the many dedicated civil servants, ministers and special advisers who have helped me achieve that.”

She has been replaced by former Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

Mr Sunak thanked her for “years of dedicated ministerial service and your friendship to me personally”.

He said her “teamwork and positivity” had “helped bring everyone together” during a “difficult time for our party” when she took on roles as both health secretary and deputy prime minister.

“I want to express my gratitude to you for your years of dedicated ministerial service and your friendship to me personally,” he said in a letter to Ms Coffey.

“You have driven work across Government to support the rural economy and taken measures to protect food production here at home. You have been a consistent champion of better rural broadband.”

He added: “I am also grateful to you for all your work as health secretary and deputy prime minister which helped prepare the health service for the winter. In a difficult time for our party – your teamwork and positivity helped bring everyone together.”