• Seema Kennedy joins Department of Health and Social Care

One of Theresa May’s closest aides has been appointed as health minister for public health and primary care.

Seema Kennedy was appointed to the position yesterday and will take over from Steve Brine who resigned last month over the government’s handling of Brexit.

Ms Kennedy will take over Mr Brine’s ministerial brief, with lead responsibility for Public Health England, the Food Standards Agency and NHS Resolution. The role covers eight policy areas: prevention and early intervention, health protection, primary care, NHS litigation, public health systems, international diplomacy and relations, major diseases and sexual health.

Ms Kennedy was promoted to be private secretary to the prime minister in June 2017, having supported Ms May in the 2016 Conservative party leadership election. She campaigned to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Much of Ms Kennedy’s South Ribble constituency is primarily served by Chorley District Hospital, for which there are plans to downgrade the emergency services. Ms Kennedy previously criticised health leaders in the area when the hospital’s accident and emergency department closed its overnight service.

Mr Brine, in his resignation letter to the prime minister, said stepping down in order to oppose the government was “the honourable thing to do”.

Ms Kennedy trained as a solicitor and early in her career worked for Slaughter and May and for Bevan Brittan LLP.