UK Politics

Lynne Featherstone takes Lib Dem Home Office job

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Media captionLynne Featherstone said Theresa May was ''a reasonable human being''

Lynne Featherstone is to replace Norman Baker as the Lib Dem minister in the Home Office, the party has said.

Mr Baker quit on Monday, saying he found it a "constant battle" working with Home Secretary Theresa May.

Ms Featherstone worked with Mrs May in the Home Office for two years and has been a minister for international development since 2012.

The home secretary said she was "delighted" with the appointment and said she wished Mr Baker well.

Mr Baker criticised the way Mrs May ran her department and accused the Conservatives of a "lurch to the right" after stepping down as minister for crime prevention.

Working in the Home Office was like "walking through mud" and a "constant battle", he said.

The Conservatives have disputed this and questioned Mr Baker's own performance in the job.

'Talented team'

However, both parties have insisted that the coalition will remain intact until the general election.

Mr Baker's departure has prompted a mini-reshuffle with Ms Featherstone returning to the department where she worked between 2010 and 2012.

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Media captionNorman Baker: "It was a constant battle to try to get things through"

Her job at international development has been taken by Baroness Northover. In other changes, two other MPs - Jenny Willott and Mark Hunter - have left their positions as government whips.

As a result of the changes:

  • Solihull MP Lorely Burt has been made an assistant government whip
  • Tom Brake MP, the deputy leader of the House of Commons, is now also an assistant government whip
  • Baroness Garden has been appointed as a government whip and government spokesperson in the House of Lords

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said he had a "first-rate ministerial team" at his disposal.

"The Liberal Democrats are extremely fortunate to have a large number of talented people on our benches ready to step into their shoes," he said.

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Media captionPrime Minister David Cameron said Theresa May was an ''outstanding'' home secretary

"Lynne Featherstone has been an exceptional minister over the last four and a half years and returns to the Home Office, where her tough but liberal approach will be invaluable."


Analysis

James Landale, BBC deputy political editor

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Image caption Theresa May wished Norman Baker well for the future

Norman Baker left office with a few passing shots at Theresa May's lack of collegiality, saying he was treated like a "cuckoo in the nest" at the Home Office where it was "like walking through mud".

He said he was resigning to take a break from all this so he could spend some more time with his family and his music.

Not surprisingly some Conservatives have not been slow in painting a different picture.

They suggest that the former transport minister resigned to defend his fragile 7,000 majority in Lewes, a battle which they allege had been claiming more of his time than the Home Office.

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Business Secretary Vince Cable said his experience of coalition government was "very different" to Mr Baker's and said he had a "cordial, business-like relationship" with Mrs May.

Ms Featherstone said she was "very happy to be returning to the Home Office".

She added: "I have always had a very constructive relationship with Theresa May and I look forward to working with her again."

Mrs May said: "I'm delighted to welcome Lynne Featherstone back to the Home Office. I greatly enjoyed working with her as a minister here at the start of the Parliament, and am glad to have the chance to do so again.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Norman Baker for his work as crime prevention minister and to wish him well for the future."

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