Norfolk MP George Freeman has quit his role as a science minister as part of prime minister Rishi Sunak's cabinet reshuffle.

The Mid Norfolk Conservative MP said he had made the decision "with a heavy heart" but had agreed in September that he would step down in the next reshuffle - which the PM carried out on Monday.

Mr Freeman said he had taken the decision to leave his role as a minister in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to "focus on my health, family wellbeing and life beyond the front bench".

Mr Freeman posted on Twitter, now known as X: "After 13 years' working to champion science, research, technology and innovation as minister of the Crown in five roles under four prime ministers, I decided in the summer it was time to move on at the next reshuffle. 

"An honour and privilege to be able to serve."

In his resignation letter, Mr Freeman said: "I deeply believe that supporting and harnessing transformation is the only way to the more productive, sustainable, prosperous and resilient economy and country we so urgently need."

He said Mr Sunak's commitment to that agenda had been "transformational".

When Mr Freeman took on the role in February, he said he was "hugely honoured" to be the first minister of state in the new department and that its creation was "a historic moment for UK science, technology, engineering and innovation".

His appointment followed his initial return to government in October, when he was re-appointed to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy by Mr Sunak.

He had covered a similar brief since September 2021, but quit in July as Boris Johnson's leadership of the Conservative party collapsed.

Chi Onwurah, Labour's shadow minister for science, research and innovation, paid tribute to Mr Freeman.

The Newcastle Central MP tweeted: "As your 'shadow' over a number of years I may have disagreed on points of policy (often!) but never questioned your commitment to, and enthusiasm for science.

"I know how much the role meant to you and how much your party benefited from your expertise. I will miss our exchanges."

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Therese Coffey quit as environment secretaryTherese Coffey quit as environment secretary (Image: PA)

Elsewhere in the Eastern region, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey quit as environment secretary, to be replaced by Steve Barclay.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Steve Barclay was moved from health secretary to environment secretarySteve Barclay was moved from health secretary to environment secretary (Image: Press Association)

The North East Cambridgeshire MP was moved from his health secretary role to replace Dr Coffey.

The reshuffle came as Mr Sunak sacked home secretary Suella Braverman and made former prime minister David Cameron his new foreign secretary.