Thérèse Coffey: convivial pragmatist inherits health service in crisis | Therese Coffey


Therese Coffey is a beer, music and football-loving MP whose lively karaoke parties are the stuff of legend at Westminster. One regular attendant has been her good friend Liz Truss, who has appointed the Suffolk Coastal MP as the new health and social care secretary – the third in just two months.

She is renowned as a work obsessive, even by parliament’s usual standards. “Her life is basically all about Westminster,” one colleague told the Sunday Times recently. Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials should brace themselves for a very demanding new boss. Despite her reputation as a tough taskmaster, though, she is very popular with colleagues. “She is convivial and pleasant company, and fond of a few drinks,” one says.

Coffey, 50, was born in Lancashire, grew up in Liverpool, briefly attended Oxford University and then got a PhD in chemistry from University College London. She qualified as a chartered management accountant, had stints at a subsidiary of Mars and the BBC and stood unsuccessfully to become an MP and MEP. She became the MP for Suffolk Coastal in the 2010 election. A private person, she is unmarried, has no children and is close to her mother and sister.

A colleague says: “Her political views are of the free market and the hard right wing, including strong anti-abortion views.” But a Tory insider disagrees. “Her political worldview is very pragmatic,” they say. Friends say her Catholicism is also a key influence.