Shailesh Vara

Shailesh Vara
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
Assumed office
9 January 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Chloe Smith
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions
In office
8 May 2015  17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Sec. of State Iain Duncan Smith
Stephen Crabb
Succeeded by Caroline Nokes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
for Courts and Legal Aid
In office
7 October 2013  17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Helen Grant
Succeeded by Sam Gyimah
Assistant Government Whip
In office
12 May 2010  6 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin
Member of Parliament
for North West Cambridgeshire
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Brian Mawhinney
Majority 18,008 (28.1%)
Personal details
Born (1960-09-04) 4 September 1960
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Brunel University
Profession Solicitor

Shailesh Lakhman Vara (born 4 September 1960) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for North West Cambridgeshire in the 2005 general election, succeeding Brian Mawhinney as the Conservative MP for the seat. Vara is a former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.

In 2006, he was appointed to the shadow ministerial post of Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. He previously held Parliamentary Under Secretary of State roles at the Ministry of Justice and Department of Work and Pensions, before being appointed to the Northern Ireland Office under Karen Bradley in January 2018.

Early life

Born in Uganda to Gujarati Indian immigrants, Vara moved to Britain with his family in 1964 when he was four.[1] Educated at Aylesbury Grammar School and Brunel University, Vara qualified as a solicitor. He worked in the City and West End of London, and during 1989–1990, he worked in Hong Kong.[2] Vara has been a senior legal adviser and business consultant for London First, and is vice-president of the Small Business Bureau.[3]

Political career

Vara has been involved with the Conservative Party since the late 1980s and has held various posts at local, regional and national levels. As Vice-Chairman of the Party, he had a broad range of responsibilities. These included advising Michael Howard, deputising for the Party chairman, party spokesman with the media and looking after Conservative Future (which comprises the 10,000 or so people in the party under 30).

Vara was elected Member of Parliament for North West Cambridgeshire in May 2005. He had previously contested the Birmingham Ladywood seat at the 1997 general election, which Labour's Clare Short won easily, and Northampton South in the 2001 general election, which Vara failed to win by only 885 votes.

At the Conservative Party Conference in 2000, he was awarded the accolade of official "rising star" of the Party, with Lord Alexander of Weedon describing him as a "future Conservative Party leader".[4]

In the run up to the 2001 general election, Vara was a member of the Party's manifesto teams for Law and Order and Legal Affairs.

Vara was opposed to Brexit prior to the referendum on the UK's continued EU membership in June 2016.[5]

On 30 June 2016, Vara confirmed his support for Michael Gove in the impending Conservative leadership contest. Vara said "I have worked very closely with Michael Gove at the Ministry of Justice and have been very impressed with him. He is a man of conviction with a very sharp intellect. He cares passionately about Britain and I believe he has the necessary qualities to lead our negotiations with the EU."

Breast Cancer Bill

The Breast Cancer Bill was Vara's chosen issue after he was one of 20 MPs who were selected at random to introduce a Private Members Bill to the House in 2006[6] He has campaigned to broaden the age of routine breast cancer screening for women from the present 50–70 age group to 45–75 years. The proposal was not supported by the government, which Vara claimed effectively blocked its progress by talking through to the end of the debate[7]

Vara has given his backing to Breast Cancer Campaign's (BCC) award-winning national "wear it pink" day, and showed his support for breast cancer charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer at a meeting in the House of Commons.[8]

Personal life

Vara is married with two children. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.[9]

See also


  1. "British Law Minister Shailesh Vara's India visit to carry forward UK-India legal links". Retrieved 20 October 2015. The Minister already has close links to India. A Gujarati speaker, he was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the Indian Government earlier this year. He is also the first person of Gujarati origin to serve as a British Government Minister.
  2. Grant shuffled out as PM names ex-City solicitor as new justice minister, Legal Futures, 7 October 2013
  3. House of Commons, Class of 2005, The Guardian, 10 October 2005
  4. 'Rising star' hopes for Westminster ascent, BBC News 28 May 2001
  5. "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPs stand". 22 June 2016 via
  6. "Breast Cancer Bill". Shailesh Vara MP. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  7. Vara, Shailesh. "Government Blocks Breast Cancer Bill". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  8. Wear it pink for cancer campaign, Peterborough Telegraph, 24 October 2006
  9. New Model Tories: Tory tribes, The Independent, 24 September 2006
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brian Mawhinney
Member of Parliament
for North West Cambridgeshire

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