Hands replaces Zahawi as Tory chairman


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…reports Asian Lite News

Greg Hands has replaced Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chairman as Rishi Sunak begins the first reshuffle of his cabinet.

Former trade policy minister Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, takes over the role that will involve leading the Tories through the next election.

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

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 dedicated to securing the UK’s “long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation”.

Shapps said he was “delighted” to become the first head of the new department.

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 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 Donelan had.

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.

Seen as a steady pair of hands, 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 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, 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.

As party chairman, he will be in charge of helping the Tories fight the next election, which at the moment they are predicted to lose to Labour.

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

He also ran the London mayoral campaign of Shaun Bailey, who was defeated comfortably by Sadiq Khan in 2021.

He is also noted for some off-piste tweets, including one praising Tesco for freezing the cost of its Meal Deal for five years. 

His wife, Irina Hundt, is German and in 2018 he revealed the impact of the Brexit vote on his family.

“My wife is German, my children are bilingual, and on the day of the referendum, or the day after, my son – who at the time was nine years old – cried over the result,” he told HuffPost.

“He didn’t really understand it. He may have thought that his mother and father would now be forced to separate.”

More recently he showed his loyalty to Sunak when his wife, Akshata Murty, came under pressure over her non-dom tax status. He suggested that there could be a racial element to the criticism, telling the BBC: ‘Some of the commentary about her being a foreign national has been unpleasant.’

More recently he has attracted the ire of China over a trade visit to Taiwan.

Beijing said the UK must ‘stop sending the wrong signals’ after he visited Taipei in November, becoming the latest foreign official to defy Beijing’s warnings over contacts with the island.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and threatens to annex it by force. It also seeks to isolate it diplomatically, requiring governments that it has formal relations with to respect its ‘one-China’ principle.

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