Alok SharmaMember of Parliament for Reading West
Alok Sharma is the chair of COP 26 and has been the Conservative MP for Reading West since 2010. Born in India, Sharma moved to Reading aged 5. He studied Applied Physics with Electronics at the University of Salford and went on to qualify as a chartered accountant with Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte. He then worked in corporate finance initially with Nikko Securities and later with Enskilda Securities. In 2010, Sharma took his seat from the Labour Party on a 12.1 per cent swing. Following his election, he joined the Science and Technology Committee before becoming parliamentary private secretary to Mark Hoban, the then-financial secretary to the Treasury, and later to Sir Oliver Letwin in the Cabinet Office. He served as a vice chair of the Conservative Party from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, Sharma became parliamentary under-secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. After the 2017 general election, in which Sharma was re-elected for the second time, Sharma was promoted to the role of housing minister. In the role, he was responsible for the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire and he caught attention after he was seen wiping away tears in his first speech to the House of Commons on the tragedy. The following year he became employment minister. After Rory Stewart resigned as international development secretary, Boris Johnson appointed Sharma as his replacement, a position he held until February 2020, when he was promoted to being secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy. In January 2021 he gave up his business brief in order to focus fully on the UK’s hosting of COP26, but he retains his seat in the cabinet.
Official parliamentary photograph taken by Chris McAndrew, 2017, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0