The appointment of Dr Therese Coffey as Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary may have come as a surprise to some - but not to anyone who has followed her career and that of her friend Liz Truss.

Both were first elected to parliament in 2010 - Dr Coffey took over the Suffolk Coastal seat that had been held by former cabinet minister John Gummer, now Lord Deben, since 1979.

Dr Coffey is a scientist, she was awarded a PhD for chemistry - she is not a medical doctor - and worked for the Mars food company and the BBC before winning the Suffolk Coastal seat.

She was the first female MP elected in Suffolk - she has since been joined in the House of Commons by Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill.

And as soon as she arrived in parliament she became firm friends with Norfolk MP Liz Truss - the two were often seen together discussing issues of the day around the Palace of Westminster.

Her ministerial career did not take off as fast as her friend Ms Truss - she was appointed a whip in 2014 but steadily rose through the ranks before Boris Johnson appointed her Work and Pensions Secretary in 2019 after the resignation of Amber Rudd.

East Anglian Daily Times: Therese Coffey (far right) with other supporters wait for the return of Liz Truss as rain fell in Downing Street.Therese Coffey (far right) with other supporters wait for the return of Liz Truss as rain fell in Downing Street. (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Dr Coffey is not seen as the slickest media performer among ministers - and has sometimes been sent out to defend the government at the height of controversies.

She was one of the ministers whose broadcast answers about Partygate issues turned out to be inaccurate when it turned out she had been given incomplete information.

While some of her colleagues quit as a result of the changes to the stories that were coming out of Boris Johnson's Downing Street, Dr Coffey said that while she understood the concerns, she was determined to stay on and continue to do what she saw as a very important job.

And she has developed a reputation as a "safe pair of hands" for her work in Whitehall. Her department was central to the delivery of furlough payments and government support during the pandemic and is generally felt to have done a reasonable job in difficult circumstances.

Dr Coffey's interests outside politics include sport - she is a big Liverpool fan having been born and brought up near the city - and events ranging from rock concerts through to Strictly Come Dancing.