Theresa May has been accused of “capitulating” to Hard Brexiteers after appointing an influential Tory Europhobe as a minister in the Brexit department.
Suella Fernandes, who chairs the European Research Group (ERG) of Hard Brexiteer Tories, has joined the government as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
She follows her predecessor as ERG chair, Steve Baker, into the department and her appointment will be seen as an attempt by Theresa May to please Tory Eurosceptics while curtailing their influence from the backbenches.
Following speculation that the PM could hire a minister for a “no deal” Brexit, her official spokesman said those at DExEU were working on getting a deal.
The spokesman said: “Ministers at DExEU are working on delivering on the verdict of the British people and on implementing Brexit and working on the deal which the prime minister wishes to secure for the UK.”
The latest significant move in the prime minister’s ministerial reshuffle was criticised by pro-European MPs.
Labour’s Alison McGovern, a leading supporter of Open Britain, said: “This looks like yet another capitulation by the prime minister to the Brextremists in her party.
“Suella Fernandes is the second chair of the hard Brexit-supporting European Research Group to be appointed as a DExEU minister in the past seven months.
“During that time, five ministers have departed from the Brexit and Trade departments, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
“The prime minister needs to know that the answer is not to keep ceding yet more influence to the hard Brexit fanatics in her party, but to get a grip and reverse her decision to leave the single market and customs union.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said the apparent appointment of an extra minister at DExEU showed its “lacklustre” team was “failing” in preparations for Britain’s departure from the EU.
“They are so desperate to change their fortunes that they’ve had to cough up the cash to pay for another minister,” he said.
“Unfortunately, they have been forced to scrape the Brexit barrel and recruit someone from the ideological fringes of the Conservative Party.
“This is a sign that Theresa May is embracing hard Brexit whatever the cost.
“The people want a vote on the deal and the opportunity to exit from Brexit.”
Best of Britain chief executive Eloise Todd added: “This is a terrible day when the latest chair of the shadowy European Research Group is made a Brexit minister.
“Brexit is a far right construct of people that first held the Conservative Party hostage, then the Cameron government, now the entire country including May and her cronies.
“There is a hard right nasty agenda behind this: a fully deregulated economy that doesn’t protect the most vulnerable in society Theresa May has enabled the nasty party to come back, its vehicle is Brexit.”