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New housing minister is finally named as Alok Sharma

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The new housing minister has now been named, five days after the result of the General Election. He will not have a place in Cabinet, and his name may not be known to you.

He is Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, whose interest in housing seems so far not to have been shared publicly – although he did help fight off a 750-home scheme in his constituency.

He becomes the sixth housing minister since 2010.

On Parliamentary websites, he has listed his interests as being in trade, industry and finance – but not housing. He was previously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Sharma, 49, is Indian-born, grew up in Reading, and has been an MP since 2010.

He was appointed minister for Asia and the Pacific in July last year when Theresa May became prime minister. He has also sat on the Treasury Select Committee, the Science and Technology Select Committee and was private secretary to the Treasury from 2012 to 2015.

Before entering Parliament, Sharma trained as a chartered accountant and then worked in banking for 16 years.

He has previously voted in favour of a fully elected House of Lords, and in favour of equal gay rights and gay marriage.

He opposes Brexit and has supported the expansion of Heathrow Airport and free schools.

Sharma was re-elected with a 2,876 majority last week, down from 6,650 at the 2015 election as Labour made gains in the constituency.

As the new housing minister, he replaces Gavin Barwell who lost his Croydon Central seat and is now chief of staff to Theresa May.

In a tweet yesterday, Sharma said: “Honoured to be appointed Minister of State for Housing & Planning to work on building the homes Britain needs @Communities UK.”

Reading, in Berkshire, has two constituencies, and has been picked out by the BBC as reflecting the divided state of the nation, with the town being represented by both Tory and Labour.

Reading East was last week captured by Labour’s Matt Rodda, who defeated the long-standing Tory MP Rob Wilson who held the seat from 2005.

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