Brexit minister quits for health reasons two years after helicopter injury
PUBLISHED: 16:39 27 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 27 October 2017
A Brexit minister today quit citing health reasons, two years after suffering an injury leaping out of a helicopter.
Baroness Anelay, who was only appointed minister of state at the Brexit Department in June, said she was "calling time" on her career.
The 70-year-old injured her ankle in an accident getting out of a Black Hawk helicopter during a diplomatic trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
She will be replaced by the former MEP Lord Callanan.
Writing for grassroots website conservativehome, she said she would remain an active member of the House of Lords. She had voted to remain in the EU.
She said: "It was the Black Hawk helicopter that did it.
"As a Foreign Office minister, I was touring Bosnia and Herzegovina, meeting victims of war and terror for whom British overseas power had been a ladder out of oppression.
"Unfortunately for me, that particular ladder hadn't materialised when it came to getting out of the helicopter.
"One ill-judged leap later, and I sustained an uncomfortable injury that has called time on my ministerial career after two decades on the front bench."
But not everybody was convinced by her explanation, with the former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis tweeting: "Lady Anelay’s accident was 2 yrs ago. She took this post 4 mths ago. The ‘accident’ causing her departure was Brexit."
She is the third minister in four months to leave the department, following David Jones and Lord Bridges, and leaves it without a female minister.
She said the UK was in "the best possible position to grasp the opportunities that Brexit can provide".
She added: "I campaigned to remain in the referendum and would vote against another one happening.
"But I leave the department certain that the negotiations surrounding our exit, and our future relationship with the EU, will be successful.
"We are getting more control of our borders, our money and our laws, and at the same time the course the European Union is taking – bold as it may be – is deeply integrationist, and increasingly unpalatable."
Her replacement, Lord Callonan, was MEP for North-East England from 1999 to 2014, when he became becoming the first sitting chair of a European parliamentary group to lose his seat. He was previously best-known in the region for campaigning against the Angel of the North, which he described as a "vast eyesore".
Since this year's general election he had been serving as a minister and parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Transport.
Figures released by the department last month showed that more than 20% of its civil servants had left in the previous 14 months, more than twice the average 9% turnover across the civil service.