Profile: who is Claire Coutinho? The staunch Rishi Sunak ally and new energy security secretary

Claire Coutinho is the energy security and net zero secretary after she replaced Grant Shapps in Rishi Sunak’s August “mini-reshuffle”. She is a former minister at the Department for Education.

The mini-reshuffle was triggered by the resignation of former defence secretary Ben Wallace. After Wallace announced his intention to resign in July, Sunak moved ahead with his top-team rejig in August.

Shapps is the new defence secretary and Coutinho has now replaced him as energy security and net zero secretary.

The Conservative MP for East Surrey, Coutinho was first been elected to Parliament in 2019 with a majority of 24,040 over the Liberal Democrat Party.

The East Surrey constituency is found to the east of Surrey bordering both Greater London and Kent.  It includes the towns of Caterham, Horley, Oxted and the surrounding towns and villages.  Long one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, it was for many years represented in Parliament by the former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe.  The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, grew up in this constituency.

Coutinho was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Education in October 2022.  She was very briefly the Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions between September and October 2022.

Coutinho was previously a PPS to then Chancellor Rishi Sunak but resigned in July 2022 in protest at Boris Johnson continuing to remain as prime minister.  She is a close political ally of the prime minister.

Prior to being elected to Parliament. Coutinho served as a special adviser for Rishi Sunak, during his time as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Born in 1985, Coutinho is the daughter of Indian doctors, and her extended family come from Pune in India.  She studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Oxford University. After graduating, she worked in the City, beginning her career at Merrill Lynch and then KMPG.   She also worked for the Housing and Finance Institute.

Long-tipped as a future star of the Conservative Party, Coutinho has previously described her ideal weekend as strolling around a food market, going for a walk in the hills, and watching a good crime documentary.

Coutinho was once a contestant on the TV Cooking show, ‘The Taste’, in which Nigella Lawson was a judge.

Coutinho once served as Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sustainable Finance.

She supported Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum.

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