Politics

Greg Hands has replaced Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chairman and two new departments have been created in Rishi Sunak’s first cabinet reshuffle.

Former trade policy minister Mr Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, takes over the role that will involve leading the Tories through the next election, which polls suggest they could lose to Labour.

His appointment comes just over a week after former chair Mr Zahawi was sacked over the handling of his tax affairs.

Whitehall shake-up announcements – latest politics updates

Mr Hands tweeted a photo of him and the prime minister, both beaming, as he said he was “excited” and it was “an honour” to be asked to be chairman. “The work starts straight away,” he added.

Asked if his taxes are in order as he arrived at Conservative headquarters after getting the job, he said: “They certainly are.”

Number 10 also confirmed business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Grant Shapps will be made energy security and net zero secretary in a newly created department.

More on Grant Shapps

Mr Shapps said he was “delighted” to become the first head of the new department and will focus on “securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and thereby helping to halve inflation”.

Former Tory leadership contender Kemi Badenoch is to be moved from international trade secretary to business and trade secretary, taking over part of the job Mr Shapps leaves vacant and maintaining her previous role.

She will remain president of the board of trade and minister for women and equalities.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan is the new secretary for science, innovation and technology, another newly formed department.

And housing minister Lucy Frazer is now culture, media and sport secretary – with technology taken away from the role that Ms Donelan had.

Labour councillor turned Tory MP Lee Anderson has been made deputy party chair, days after he compared the government to the “band on the Titanic” in leaked Whatsapp messages with colleagues about whether the party was doing enough to tackle small boats crossing the Channel.

There were reports Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove was offered the party chair job but turned it down, but a source close to Mr Gove told Sky News he had had no formal offer from Mr Sunak.

Mr Sunak said the Whitehall reshuffle was aimed at reducing household bills through the new energy security department.

He said the current energy policy is not working properly as he mentioned the UK’s reliance on imported energy from Russia.

“It’s going to mean that we can reduce people’s energy bills – that’s so important – it means we can produce more energy here at home, giving us more independence and security, and it means we can transition to cleaner forms of energy as we hit our net zero ambitions and create jobs in the process, as we’re seeing here today,” he said.

“We’re focused on delivering for the British people and this will help us do that.”

He defended his decision to carry out a reshuffle instead of reconsidering Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s position, as he is under investigation for alleged bullying.

The PM reiterated an independent adviser is carrying out an investigation and it is “right that it concludes” before making a decision.

Who is Greg Hands?

Mr Hands is well-liked by fellow Tories and has been an MP since 2005, first in Hammersmith and Fulham, then Chelsea and Fulham since its creation in 2010.

He has remained as a minister for the most part of the past eight years after first serving in David Cameron’s cabinet as chief secretary to the Treasury.

A staunch remainer, he was demoted by Theresa May to a junior minister at the Department for International Trade then was also made Minister for London.

He resigned in 2018 over his opposition to Heathrow’s third runway but Boris Johnson returned him to trade policy minister before promoting him to business, energy and clean growth minister.

Liz Truss made him trade policy minister days before she stepped down and Mr Sunak kept him on.

The New York and UK state-school-educated politician joined the Conservative Party as a student at Cambridge before spending eight years as a banker in London and New York.

A polyglot who speaks five European languages, Mr Hands gained his campaigning experience fairly early on in his political career when he had to fight for the newly formed Chelsea and Fulham seat after his constituency was split in two.

As a Tory councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham before becoming an MP, he built up a formidable reputation as a local campaigner, with an impressive knowledge for knowing local people’s names and issues they stood for, Conservative Home reported in 2014.

He also served as a whip then deputy chief whip under Mr Cameron so has experience in coordinating his fellow MPs – an essential to fight the next election.

Who is Grant Shapps?

New energy security minister Mr Shapps is seen as a safe pair of hands and a popular MP within the Conservative Party, as well as a smooth media operator.

He has become known for his public service videos such as the “Great British Rail Sale” promoting reduced train fares.

But it was in 2015 when he really earnt his stripes in Westminster as party co-chairman after he helped pull off a narrow Conservative victory despite a predicted hung parliament.

He has been the MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005, taking the seat off Labour after 15 years of failed attempts to become a councillor and an MP in Manchester and various London constituencies.

Mr Shapps served as a minister and co-chair under Mr Cameron, while Mr Johnson made him transport secretary and he became the shortest-serving home secretary ever last year, with just six days in the job under Ms Truss before Mr Sunak made him business secretary.

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Shapps’ Great British Rail Sale

His rise in politics has not been without controversy, including accusations of ignoring bullying allegations within the party’s youth wing while co-chair.

In 2015, he admitted to having had a second job while being an MP and using pseudonyms – Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox – for business after previously denying both.

Before becoming an MP he was a photocopier sales representative and founded his own design and print business then a web publishing business. Google blacklisted 19 of his business websites for violating copyright rules in 2012.

Mr Shapps’ latest mishap involved his office posting a picture of him with Mr Johnson photoshopped out, which he laughingly told Sky News this Sunday was a “complete screw-up”.

Who is Kemi Badenoch?

The new business and trade secretary has only been the MP for Saffron Walden since 2017 but her background as a law graduate, software engineer and in banking should have prepared her well for the new role.

A committed Brexiteer and seen as being on the right of the party, Ms Badenoch was previously exchequer secretary to the Treasury and keeps her job as equalities minister.

She stood to replace Mr Johnson in the summer and was popular among the Tory membership, promising to “tell the truth” and advocating “strong but limited government”.

But she was eliminated in the fourth round of voting, some believed it was due to her strong stance on trans issues after her team taped “men” and “ladies” signs to the doors of gender-neutral loos.

Ms Truss made Mrs Badenoch International Trade Secretary and after her resignation, she backed Mr Sunak to replace the former PM, ensuring she kept her job when he took over.

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