Promotion for Grant Shapps as Rishi Sunak reshuffles cabinet
By Chris Mason & Sam Francis | BBC News | 31 August 2023, 09:48 BST | Updated 41 minutes ago
Rishi Sunak promotes Grant Shapps to defence secretary
Rishi Sunak has promoted cabinet veteran Grant Shapps to the role of defence secretary in a mini reshuffle of his top team. Mr Shapps, who has held five ministerial jobs in the past year, replaces Ben Wallace, who is leaving politics at the next election.
Claire Coutinho appointed as energy secretary
Sunak ally Claire Coutinho replaces Grant Shapps as energy secretary. It is a major promotion for Ms Coutinho, who has only been an MP since 2019 and, at 38, will be the youngest minister to sit around the cabinet table. She faces a tough task in holding the differing wings of her party together over the government’s commitment to net zero.
- Grant Shapps’ appointment as defence secretary was not widely expected
- He is seen as a safe pair of hands and an effective communicator
- Claire Coutinho’s appointment as energy secretary is a major promotion
- Some Tory MPs had expected a more wide-ranging reshuffle, but it was a smaller reshuffle for now
Mixed reactions to the reshuffle
Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband criticized Claire Coutinho’s appointment and the ongoing reshuffles in the Conservative Party. Some Conservative MPs and army figures were concerned about Grant Shapps’ lack of experience in foreign affairs, defence, and security.
Grant Shapps’ previous roles and achievements
Grant Shapps has held seven cabinet roles since 2012. He has taken a visible role in the UK’s support of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of the country. As energy secretary, he visited Ukraine to highlight the UK government’s role in guaranteeing a supply of enriched uranium to the country’s nuclear power plants.
Ben Wallace steps down
Defence secretary Ben Wallace is stepping down from politics at the next election. He served as defence secretary under three prime ministers and oversaw the evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan. He became a high-profile supporter of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February 2022.