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Alok Sharma to lead BEIS as Leadsom leaves department

Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Alok Sharma is to take over as energy secretary and minister for COP26, after Andrea Leadsom was sacked this morning as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

Sharma has not previously served in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), having been Secretary of State for International Development since July 2019.

Prior to that, he served as Minister of State for Employment from 9 January 2018 until 24 July 2019 and as Minister of State for Housing and Planning from 13 June 2017 to 9 January 2018.

The MP for Reading West has also been appointed as minister of COP26 following Claire O’Neill’s dismissal as president earlier this month. COP26 has been hit with controversy recently after O’Neill unleashed a scathing attack on the progress of the climate summit, describing it as “miles off track”.

In its response, the government confirmed the role would be ministerial moving forwards, with Sharma the first to hold the revised role.

Sharma's appointment and Leadsom’s departure comes as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s extensive cabinet reshuffle, which has resulted in a shake-up of several major positions, including the resignation of chancellor Sajid Javid.

Leadsom, who is the MP for South Northamptonshire, was appointed as energy secretary in July 2019, taking over from Greg Clark. She had previously served as energy secretary between May 2015 and July 2016.

Her most recent stint was dominated by the delayed energy white paper, which Leadsom announced in October would be pushed back again to Q1 2020.

Confirming her departure on Twitter, she said it had been a “real privilege” to serve in the government for the last six years and in BEIS for the last six months and is now looking forward to focusing on her constituents.

“I’m particulary proud of my work in BEIS on net zero and the #CountDowntoCOP and on making the UK the best place in the world to work and grow a business,” she wrote, adding she will continue from the back benches to work to ensure “everyone is treated with dignity and respect”.

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