Alok Sharma

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Alok Sharma

Official portrait of Alok Sharma crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
President for COP26
Minister of State at the Cabinet Office
Assumed office
8 January 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byOffice established
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
In office
13 February 2020 – 8 January 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAndrea Leadsom
Succeeded byKwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
24 July 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byRory Stewart
Succeeded byAnne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State for Employment
In office
9 January 2018 – 24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byDamian Hinds
Succeeded byMims Davies
Minister of State for Housing
In office
14 June 2017 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byGavin Barwell
Succeeded byDominic Raab
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific
In office
17 July 2016 – 13 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byBaroness Anelay of St Johns
Succeeded byMark Field
Member of Parliament
for Reading West
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byMartin Salter
Majority4,117 (8.2%)
Personal details
Born (1967-09-07) 7 September 1967 (age 54)
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Political partyConservative
EducationUniversity of Salford

Alok Sharma (born 7 September 1967)[1] is a British politician serving as President for COP26 and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office since 2021. Sharma resigned his previous position as Secretary of State for Business in order to lead COP26. Sharma retains full Cabinet status. Sharma has been the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Reading West since 2010.

Sharma served in Prime Minister Theresa May's government as Minister of State for Housing from 2017 to 2018 and as Minister of State for Employment from 2018 to 2019. In 2019, he was appointed to the Cabinet by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Secretary of State for International Development. He was promoted to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the 2020 cabinet reshuffle, an office in which he served until 2021.

Early life and career[edit]

Sharma was born in Agra, northern India, but moved to Reading with his parents when he was five years old and had a Hindu upbringing.[2][3] His father Prem was involved in Conservative politics in Reading and became chairman of the Berkshire area of Conservatives and helped establish the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India.[4] Sharma was raised in the Reading suburbs of Earley and Whitley Wood and attended Presentation College, Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning[5] and the University of Salford, from where he graduated with a BSc in Applied Physics with Electronics in 1988.[6]

Sharma subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant, training with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into corporate finance advisory with Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, where he held senior roles based in London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Sharma was an adviser to clients in the corporate and private-equity sector on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, listings and restructurings.[7]

Sharma is a Governor of a local primary school in Reading. Previously he served as a Chairman of the political think-tank the Bow Group's Economic Affairs Committee.

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Sharma was selected as the Conservative Party candidate for the Reading West constituency in 2006.[4] He was elected as the MP for Reading West in the 2010 general election, winning a majority of 6,004 after the retirement of the Labour MP Martin Salter.

In the 2015 general election he was re-elected with an increased majority of 6,650.[8]

In the 2017 general election, he won his seat with a reduced margin, a majority of 2,876.[8] On being re-elected, Sharma wrote on his website: "Having grown up locally in Reading and being very much a local Reading man, I am delighted to have been re-elected for a constituency in my home town."[9]

In the 2019 general election Sharma increased his majority to 4,117.[8]

Early parliamentary career (2010–2016)[edit]

Sharma served as a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee between July 2010 and February 2011[10] and the Treasury Select Committee between September 2014 and March 2015.[11]

Sharma was Conservative Party Vice-Chairman from 2012 to 2015[12] and co-chairman of Conservative Friends of India in 2014.[13]

In September 2011, Sharma was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Mark Hoban, the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury.[14] During his time as a PPS, Sharma sat on a number of public bill committees including two finance bills, the 2013 Banking Reform Bill and the 2011 Pensions Bill.[15] He also served as PPS to Sir Oliver Letwin, the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who had overall responsibility for the Cabinet Office.

Following the death of two cyclists in Purley on Thames, Sharma campaigned in 2014 for longer prison sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.[16] Sharma initiated a Parliamentary debate on the issue[17] and backed a petition, started by the families of victims, which gained more than 55,000 signatures.[18][19]

Sharma campaigned to reduce the number of first-class carriages on trains operating on the Great Western route between Reading and London. In January 2015, he held a meeting with Rail Minister Claire Perry and First Great Western managing director Mark Hopwood to discuss proposals to increase Standard Class capacity to reduce overcrowding.[20]

In 2016, Sharma was appointed as the Prime Minister's "Infrastructure Envoy to India".[citation needed]

Junior minister (2016–2019)[edit]

Sharma at the British Museum to mark the 45th anniversary year of ambassadorial relations between the UK and the PRC, 2017

Sharma was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from July 2016 to June 2017.[21]

In June 2017 he was appointed Housing Minister, replacing Gavin Barwell who lost his seat in the 2017 general election.[22]

As the Minister of State for Housing, Sharma was responsible for the Government's response to the Grenfell Tower fire. He attracted media attention when he was visibly moved while making a statement to the House of Commons on 5 July 2017.[23][24]

In January 2018, he became the Minister of State for Employment.[25]

Secretary of State for International Development (2019–2020)[edit]

Sharma, International Development Secretary, sees Ebola preparedness work in Uganda

Sharma was appointed Secretary of State for International Development by Boris Johnson following the resignation of Rory Stewart in July 2019. Upon ascending to the role, he said: "I am delighted... We will work across the whole of government to deliver Brexit and make sure UK aid is tackling global challenges that affect us all."[26]

In October, Sharma stated he wanted to use the UK's leverage over the World Bank to focus the use of the nineteenth International Development Association fund on fighting climate change, building sustainable economies and promoting women's rights.[27]

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2020–2021)[edit]

Following the dismissal of Andrea Leadsom in the 2020 cabinet reshuffle, Sharma was appointed to the position of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, taking office on 13 February.

As Secretary of State, Sharma was one of the government's speakers at the daily coronavirus pandemic briefings from Downing Street. In June 2020, he appeared visibly unwell while delivering a statement in the House of Commons.[28] Although he underwent a test for COVID-19 which came back negative, the situation led to questions being raised about the government's decision to end the use of the virtual parliament and make MPs return to the House of Commons chamber. Certain employees of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy were advised not to return to their work by the Public and Commercial Services Union, who said that there was a lack of evidence that the department had provided enough preventative measures against the virus.[29]

In July 2020, Sharma instructed officials to purchase half of OneWeb, a satellite communications company, for US$500m.[30] The company was purchased from Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the UK Government and Bharti Enterprises.

Sharma introduced to Parliament, with the help of Lord Callanan, the National Security and Investment Act 2021.[31]

President for COP26 (2021–present)[edit]

In addition to his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 13 February 2020, Sharma was also appointed President of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26),[32] following the dismissal of Claire Perry O'Neill in January 2020. At that time the conference was planned for November 2020; in May 2020 it was rearranged for November 2021.[33]

On 8 January 2021, Sharma left his position as Secretary of State to become President of COP26 on a full-time basis, and chair of the Climate Action Implementation Committee.[34] He moved to the Cabinet Office and retained his status as a full member of the cabinet.[35] Sharma formally serves as a Minister of State, in the Cabinet Office.[36]

Political positions[edit]

Sharma with DFID Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft in 2019.

Free schools[edit]

Sharma supported the opening in his Reading West constituency of one of the first free schools in England: All Saints Junior School opened in September 2011 and received an 'outstanding' rating in its first Ofsted report.[37]

Sharma has also been appointed a patron of the Wren School, a new secondary free school opening in west Reading in September 2015. Sharma supported the West Reading Education Network in getting the new school approved and is helping the school to find an appropriate permanent site.[38][39]

Heathrow Airport[edit]

Sharma has been a vocal supporter of the expansion of Heathrow Airport and has spoken in support of increasing the number of airport runways in the South East of England, claiming that "a lack of hub capacity is costing the UK jobs and investment."[40][41] This is despite opposition in his own constituency; in 2009 he said: "A third runway at Heathrow would inflict huge damage to the environment and to the quality of life of millions of people. It is time for the Government to abandon its plans for a third runway and, if a Conservative Government is elected, we will certainly stop this environmental disaster."[42]

East West Leaders' Forum[edit]

2017, Sharma speaking at a Hindu festival of Holi event at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Sharma set up the East West Leaders' Forum, a discussion forum between business leaders, to promote dialogue between Europe, India and China. Theresa May, then Home Secretary, gave the keynote speech at the inaugural event, held in London in September 2014.[43][44]


Sharma supported the UK remaining within the European Union prior to the 2016 referendum.[45] He backed then Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement in early 2019,[46] and also subsequently supported Prime Minister Boris Johnson's withdrawal agreement in October 2019.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Sharma is married and lives in Caversham, Reading with his wife and two daughters.[5] His wife is Swedish.[48][49] Sharma took his oath in the House of Commons on the Bhagavad Gita in 2019.[50]



  1. ^ "Alok Sharma MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Indian-origin lawmakers Alok Sharma, Rishi Sunak take oath on Bhagwad Gita in UK's House of Commons". Hindustan Times. 18 December 2019.
  3. ^ Stanford, Peter (15 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher: 'She gave us a chance to climb up the social ladder'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Roy, Amit (9 May 2010). "Agra-born Alok clocks biggest Tory swing - Delighted by victory, Father Prem recalls days of disdain". Telegraph India. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b "As Reading West MP prepares to stand down the contest hots up". Newbury Today. 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  6. ^ Sharma, Rt Hon. Alok, (born 7 Sept. 1967), PC 2019; MP (C) Reading West, since 2010; Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, since 2020. WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U251666. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.
  7. ^ "Alok Sharma". Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 16 May 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Reading West parliamentary constituency – Election 2019" – via
  9. ^ Noor, Poppy (14 June 2017). "A quick look at new housing minister Alok Sharma". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  10. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Feb 2011 (pt 0003)".
  11. ^ "Treasury Committee - Membership - Committees - UK Parliament".
  12. ^ "Alok Sharma becomes Tory vice-chairman". 11 September 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  13. ^ "British MP Alok Sharma named CF India co-chairman". Business Standard India. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Good news for Alok". Reading Chronicle.
  15. ^ "Alok Sharma MP, Reading West". TheyWorkForYou.
  16. ^ Adkins, Natasha (8 December 2014). "Fiancées of two cyclists killed by drink-driver continue their campaign for change in sentencing law".
  17. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 04 Nov 2014 (pt 0002)".
  18. ^ Adkins, Natasha (5 November 2014). "Purley cyclists' deaths lead to parliamentary debate on sentencing for dangerous driving".
  19. ^ "Archived Petition: Driver receives maximum sentence of 14 years per person that has been killed". Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  20. ^ Low, Jonathan (15 January 2015). "Alok Sharma: There's still more to be done on First Great Western trains".
  21. ^ "Envoy sees more UK-Thai investment". Bangkok Post. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  22. ^ Wilmore, James (13 June 2017). "New housing minister appointed to replace Barwell".
  23. ^ Murphy, Joe (5 July 2017). "Housing minister Alok Sharma wipes away tears after telling Commons of meeting with Grenfell Tower fire survivors". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Grenfell fire: Minister visibly moved in Commons". BBC. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  25. ^ Coates, Sam (9 January 2018). "May tries to inject fresh blood into government". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 January 2018. (subscription required)
  26. ^ "Alok Sharma has been appointed Secretary of State for International Development". GOV.UK. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  27. ^ Elliott, Larry (20 October 2019). "UK urges World Bank to channel more money into tackling climate crisis". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  28. ^ Sandhu, Serina (4 June 2020). "Alok Sharma: Business Secretary tested for coronavirus after looking unwell in House of Commons". inews. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  29. ^ Syal, Rajeev (4 June 2020). "Alok Sharma receives negative coronavirus test result". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Ministerial direction for the purchase of OneWeb". 22 July 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  31. ^ "National Security and Investment Bill 2019-21". Parliament.UK. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  32. ^ "Alok Sharma appointed COP26 President" (Press release). GOV.UK. 18 February 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  33. ^ "New dates agreed for COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference". 28 May 2020.
  34. ^ "Alok Sharma becomes full-time COP26 president and Kwasi Kwarteng is appointed as Secretary of State for Business" (Press release). GOV.UK. 8 January 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  35. ^ Walker, Peter (8 January 2021). "Alok Sharma to work full-time on Cop26 climate conference preparation". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  36. ^ "FOI2021 07221 REPLY.pdf". 26 April 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  37. ^ Cassell, Paul (7 August 2013). "Reading's first free school picks up 'outstanding' Ofsted report".
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ Fort, Linda (4 December 2013). "Parents win victory in Elvian School site planning battle".
  40. ^ "Alok Sharma MP: Heathrow helps to drive the nation's economic powerhouse". Conservative Home. 17 December 2013.
  41. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  42. ^ Fort, Linda (25 November 2009). "Community unites against Heathrow runway plan".
  43. ^ "Theresa May to relax UK transit visa regime". Financial Times. London.
  44. ^ "Home Secretary's speech at the inaugural East West Forum". GOV.UK.
  45. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  46. ^ "Alok Sharma Voting Record".
  47. ^ "Hansard Voting Record". Hansard.
  48. ^ Sharma, Alok (8 July 2016). "Alok Sharma: May is right not to chase headlines on EU nationals". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  49. ^ Onita, Laura (13 February 2020). "Profile: Alok Sharma - the new business secretary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  50. ^ Sonwalkar, Prasun (18 December 2019). "Indian-origin lawmakers Alok Sharma, Rishi Sunak take oath on Bhagwad Gita in UK's House of Commons". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 13 January 2020.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Martin Salter
Member of Parliament
for Reading West

Political offices
Preceded by
James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific
Succeeded by
Mark Field
Preceded by
Gavin Barwell
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Succeeded by
Dominic Raab
Preceded by
Damian Hinds
Minister of State for Employment
Succeeded by
Justin Tomlinson
Preceded by
Rory Stewart
Secretary of State for International Development
Succeeded by
Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Preceded by
Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Succeeded by
Kwasi Kwarteng
Position established President for COP26