Stephen Paul Barclay PC MP (born 3 May 1972) is a British politician who has been Chief Secretary to the Treasury since February 2020 and previously served as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from November 2018 until January 2020. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Cambridgeshire since 2010.
Barclay served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury from 2016 to 2017 and Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 2017 until 2018. After the January 2018 cabinet reshuffle, he became Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care; Barclay was appointed Brexit Secretary in November that year following the resignation of Dominic Raab. He remained in office until the United Kingdom officially left the EU at the beginning of the transition period on 31 January 2020. Barclay remained in the government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Early life and education
Barclay was brought up in Lancashire. His father worked as a full-time trade union official and then in IT, and his mother worked full-time as a civil service administrator. He is the youngest of three brothers, all of whom played rugby.
Barclay was educated at King Edward VII School, an independent school in Lytham St Annes. After completing his A levels, he joined the British Army on a Gap Year Commission, attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and served as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers for five months. His is the first generation of his family to go to university, and he read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He then studied at the Chester College of Law campus, to qualify as a solicitor in 1998.
Barclay completed his training contract as an articled clerk with a large London law firm before working at a royal exchange, Axa Insurance, the Financial Services Authority, and Barclays.
After leaving university in 1994, Barclay joined the Conservative Party. He was a member of the A-List and was twice an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate, contesting Manchester Blackley in 1997 and Lancaster & Wyre in 2001, coming within 500 votes of winning the latter seat. In 2007, Barclay took over as the organiser of the Carlton Club political dinner, which raises funds for the Conservative Party's target seats.
Barclay was selected in January 2008 to replace the outgoing North East Cambridgeshire MP, Malcolm Moss, and was elected at the May 2010 general election with a majority of 16,425. After the election, he was soon elected by fellow MPs to become a member of the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises government spending. Conservative Home named him as one of a minority of loyal Conservative backbench MPs not to have voted against the government in any substantive rebellions.
Following the appointment of Theresa May to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Barclay was appointed as a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury.
In June 2017, Barclay joined HM Treasury as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
In January 2018, he joined the Department for Health and Social Care as the Minister of State for Health.
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Barclay was appointed as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in November 2018 following the resignation of Dominic Raab. It was reported that Barclay would focus on the domestic preparations rather than negotiations for Brexit. He retained his role as Brexit Secretary in Boris Johnson's first and second cabinets. He ceased to be Brexit Secretary at 11:00 pm on 31 January 2020, the moment the Department for Exiting the European Union was closed down as the UK formally left the EU.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Barclay was appointed as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in February 2020, replacing Rishi Sunak who had been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer following the resignation of Sajid Javid.
In May 2020, Barclay appeared on BBC's Question Time and was corrected by presenter Fiona Bruce about the number of people who had received the government's COVID-19 testing.
Barclay and his wife Karen have a son and a daughter.