Shailesh Vara may be a new name for the people of Northern Ireland, but the new Secretary of State is no stranger to the country.
We will be well known in local politics, having served as Minister for Northern Ireland under a former Secretary of State, Karen Bradley,
MP for North West Cambridgeshire since 2005, a relatively secure Tory seat, his predecessor in that constituency was a familiar Belfast man, Lord Brian Mawhinney, a former Conservative Party chairman.
Aged 61, married with two children, Mr Vara was born in Uganda to Indian Gujarati immigrants and moved to Britain with his family in 1964 at the age of four.
He had a Hindu upbringing and was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School and Brunel University,
He is also qualified as a barrister and, apart from his time in the Northern Ireland office, has also served as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.
Appointed to the NI office in January 2018, he resigned from the post in November of the same year due to former Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement, the Brexit deal.
Shortly after his resignation, he drew ridicule on social media after describing Northern Ireland as “a part of Great Britain”.
In a BBC interview, Mr Vara said: ‘It is important to remember that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain by consent.
He opposed Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum.
In 2006 he was appointed to the shadow ministerial post of Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and had previously held positions as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions.
On Boris Johnson’s resignation earlier today, Mr Vara said the Tory leader had made the right choice but praised his leadership ahead of his resignation: ‘It’s the right decision by Boris Johnson.”
“His place in history is assured. He delivered Brexit and oversaw the vaccine rollout and financial relief plan during the Covid pandemic. And he led the way in supporting Ukraine at this most dangerous time for Europe.
Mr Vara succeeds Brandon Lewis as Secretary of State after Mr Lewis’ resignation was accepted today.
His interest in Northern Ireland does not stop at the political arena. He is also a lead investor, alongside retired footballer Ian Rush, in the consortium that acquired North Belfast football club Crusaders FC.
But anyone hoping to take it should be warned, Mr. Vara has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.