He spent only seven weeks as Environment Secretary under Liz Truss's doomed premiership, but it seems that Ranil Jayawardena is determined to keep a memento of his brief time in office

Minister who lasted only seven weeks in the job is told to return his red box – which can cost as much as £4,000

He spent only seven weeks as Environment Secretary under Liz Truss’s doomed premiership, but it seems that Ranil Jayawardena is determined to keep a memento of his brief time in office.

Whitehall sources claim that Mr Jayawardena has ‘walked off’ with his ministerial red box and appears ‘reluctant to relinquish it’.

Ministers are expected to hand back the boxes – which can cost as much as £4,000 – when they leave government.

He spent only seven weeks as Environment Secretary under Liz Truss's doomed premiership, but it seems that Ranil Jayawardena is determined to keep a memento of his brief time in office

He spent only seven weeks as Environment Secretary under Liz Truss’s doomed premiership, but it seems that Ranil Jayawardena is determined to keep a memento of his brief time in office

Last night, a source at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We have asked Ranil to give it back. It’s not a trophy.’

Ministers use the red boxes, also known as despatch boxes, to transport sensitive and secret material that is classified above confidential. They offer a higher level of security than ordinary lockable briefcases.

They are made by luxury British leather goods company Barrow, Hepburn & Gale, which was established in 1760.

The use of despatch boxes dates back to Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

Ministers are expected to hand back the boxes ¿ which can cost as much as £4,000 ¿ when they leave government

Ministers are expected to hand back the boxes – which can cost as much as £4,000 – when they leave government

They are currently undergoing a makeover to incorporate King Charles’s royal cypher.

North East Hampshire MP Mr Jayawardena became the shortest-serving Environment Secretary when the Truss administration imploded, and has now returned to the backbenches. He was a surprise appointment given his lack of experience.

Mr Jayawardena said: ‘I don’t recognise this as I know my office has been arranging the return of all papers etc, though don’t know what has actually been collected yet.’

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