EAST Hampshire MP Damian Hinds is in government for the third time after being appointed minister for security.

The move by prime minister Boris Johnson was not publicly anticipated, as it was thought the brief was to be added to the portfolio of home secretary Priti Patel.

Mr Hinds, East Hampshire’s MP since 2010, said: “I know the weight of responsibility in taking on this role.

“As I said when I was appointed, the first duty of a government is the safety of the country and its people – I am acutely conscious of the gravity of the task.

“The nature of threats continues to change and so too must our capability in support of the men and women who do so much – much unseen – to keep us safe from those who mean us harm.”

Mr Hinds had previously served as education secretary from 2018-19, employment minister from 2016-18 and exchequer secretary to the Treasury from 2015.

Following Mr Johnson’s appointment as prime minister in 2019, Mr Hinds lost the education portfolio and returned to the back benches.

Mr Hinds served in Theresa May’s government and was once tipped as a potential prime minister by Michael Gove and Nick Timothy, May’s former co-chief of staff.

The post had been vacant for five weeks since James Brokenshire stood down. He had earlier told the prime minister his recovery from lung cancer treatment was “taking longer than anticipated”.

The security minister’s wide-ranging brief is extensive.

Responsibilities include counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, economic crime, hostile state activity, extradition, and royal and VIP protection.

It also covers online harm, and during the pandemic the minister also oversaw MI5 and counter-terrorism policing.