Former Remainer Chris Skidmore appointed Universities Minister

Theresa May has appointed a former Remain-backing MP as Minister for Universities and Science, replacing Sam Gyimah, who quit last week in protest at her Brexit plan.

Chris Skidmore backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, but has since been a loyalist over the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit and is expected to back her deal in next week’s crunch Commons vote.

He warned in a speech in March against allowing the party to be dominated by those with “hard line” views on Brexit, in what was widely seen as a swipe at Eurosceptics like Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Arguing that Tories need to offer a “positive programme” stretching beyond the issue of Europe, he said then: “I don’t think those tendencies are helpful and we have to be careful how we approach Brexit if it is going to allow a particular faction of the party to dominate in the future.

“I believe that, while we are leaving the EU, it doesn’t give everyone a carte blanche to come up with quite hardline ideas.”

Mr Gyimah resigned from the Government on November 30, warning that the withdrawal deal agreed with Brussels “leaves us poorer, less secure and weaker in the pursuit of our national interests”.

Mr Skidmore, 37, has been Conservative MP for Kingswood in south Gloucestershire since 2010.

Mrs May appointed him minister for the constitution in the Cabinet Office when she came to power in 2016 and moved him in a reshuffle this January to the post of vice-chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for policy.

An Oxford history graduate, he has published a number of books about the Tudors and Richard III.