Grant Shapps (born 14 September 1968) is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Transport since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield since the 2005 general election. He served as Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2012 to 2015, also holding the title of Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office. His salary was paid by the party.
Shapps was returned to Parliament in the 2010 general election with a majority of 17,423, which fell to 7,369 in the 2017 general election. On 13 May 2010, he was appointed Minister of State for Housing and Local Government; the following 9 June, Shapps was appointed as a Privy Counsellor. On 11 May 2015, he resigned as party chair after his appointment as Minister of State for International Development. On 28 November 2015, he stood down from his ministerial position due to allegations of bullying within the Conservative Party.
- 1 Family and early life
- 2 Political career
- 3 Other issues
- 4 Business ventures
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Family and early lifeEdit
Shapps was born in Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, to a Jewish family. He was educated at Yorke Mead Primary School, Watford Grammar School for Boys and Cassio College. He completed a business and finance course at Manchester Polytechnic, and received a Higher National Diploma. Shapps was also National President of the Jewish youth organisation BBYO. In 1989, according to Shapps, he was in a car crash in Kansas, United States, that left him in a coma for a week.
He married Belinda Goldstone in 1997 and they have three children. In 1999 Shapps was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy recovering from cancer by the following year. As a result of the effects of chemotherapy, his children were conceived by IVF.
Shapps' brother, Andre Shapps, is a musician. Between 1994 and 1998, Andre Shapps was a member of Big Audio Dynamite (BAD), playing keyboards. Their cousin, Mick Jones, was a key figure in British punk rock of the late 1970s and a founding member of both the Clash and Big Audio Dynamite.
In 1994, Shapps stood as a Conservative candidate for the two-member St Andrews ward in the London Borough of Brent local elections, but was unsuccessful in being returned as a councillor, with Labour narrowly holding both seats.
Shapps stood for the Welwyn Hatfield constituency in the 2001 election, again unsuccessfully. He was reselected to fight Welwyn Hatfield in 2002 and continued his local campaigning over the next four years.
Member of ParliamentEdit
Shapps stood again in the 2005 election and was elected as the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield, defeating the Labour MP and Minister for Public Health, Melanie Johnson. He received 22,172 votes (49.6%) and had a majority of 5,946 (13.3%), recording the second highest swing from Labour to Conservative in the 2005 election of 8.2%.
Shapps publicly backed David Cameron's bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party, seconding Cameron's nomination papers. Upon Cameron's election as party leader Shapps was appointed vice chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for campaigning.
He was a member of the Public Administration Select Committee between May 2005 and February 2007.
Shadow housing ministerEdit
In June 2007, Shapps became shadow housing minister, outside the shadow cabinet, but entitled to attend its meetings.
He was shadow housing minister during the period of the last four Labour government housing ministers. During this period of opposition he argued in favour of a community-up approach to solving the housing crisis and warned against top-down Whitehall driven housing targets, which he believed had failed in the past.
In April 2009, Shapps launched the Conservative party's ninth green paper on policy, "Strong Foundations". In early 2010 Shapps published a series of six speeches in a pamphlet called "Home Truths".
Minister of State for Housing and Local GovernmentEdit
In May 2010, Shapps became housing and local government minister within the Communities and Local Government department and immediately repealed Home Information Pack (HIP) legislation. He chaired the Cross-Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness which includes ministers from eight Government departments. The group introduced "No Second Night Out", a policy designed to prevent rough sleeping nationwide.
As Minister of State for Housing, Shapps promoted plans for flexible rent and controversially ended automatic lifetime social tenancies. He also introduced the New Homes Bonus which rewarded councils for building more homes. He denied claims that changes in Housing Benefit rules would be unfair claiming that ordinary people could no longer afford some of the homes paid for by the £24bn Housing Benefit bill. Shapps championed Tenant Panels.
At the 2011 party conference, Shapps backed the expansion of right to buy with the income being spent on replacing the sold housing with new affordable housing on a one for one basis.
Conservative Party co-chairmanEdit
In November 2012, Shapps hired Australian strategist Lynton Crosby to provide strategic advice and run the 2015 election campaign. Credited with helping John Howard to win three Australian elections and the re-election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, Crosby is a controversial figure who was accused of having influenced government smoking policy in July 2013.
In March 2013, Shapps defended the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (often referred to as the "Bedroom Tax") saying his own children share a bedroom. That September, Shapps complained to the Secretary-General of the United Nations about a press release issued in its name stating that the bedroom policy went against human rights.
In the same year, Shapps was criticised by Andrew Dilnot, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, for wrongly claiming that nearly one million people on disability benefits had dropped their claims rather than face medical checks. The real figure was 19,700.
In October 2013, Shapps used a Daily Telegraph interview to say that the BBC could lose the right to all of the licence fee if it did not resolve its "culture of waste and secrecy". He also suggested that the organisation was biased against the Tory Party, saying it did not "apply fairness in both directions" and that there was a "question of credibility for the organisation". The licence fee might be withdrawn if it did not address this. His comments sparked a vigorous response from a former BBC Director General Greg Dyke who said that "politicians shouldn't define partiality". Others, including the current BBC Director General Tony Hall echoed some of Shapps's comments by saying that the "BBC needs to start treating public money as its own."
In March 2014, Shapps drew national headlines for a tweet in support of the 2014 budget. Opponents criticised Shapps of being patronising to working people by believing their pastimes were limited to bingo and beer.
He ceased being co-chairman of the Conservative Party in May 2015.
Minister of State, Department for International DevelopmentEdit
On 11 May 2015, Shapps was sacked from the cabinet, which he had attended as Conservative party co-chairman and minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office, and appointed as minister of state at the Department for International Development. BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the change appeared to be a demotion, while The Guardian's chief political correspondent, Nicholas Watt, went further, calling it "a humiliating blow".
On 28 November 2015, Shapps stood down as minister of state due to allegations of bullying within the Conservative Party. It has been claimed that Shapps, in his previous role as party co-chairman, had ignored repeated allegations of bullying involving Mark Clarke, the then party youth organiser. Baroness Warsi, Shapps's predecessor as co-chair of the Conservative Party, had written to Shapps to raise concerns about Clarke's conduct in January 2015. Shapps had appointed Clarke to head his party's RoadTrip 2015 campaign in January 2015. Clarke denies all allegations. The alleged bullying may have caused a young party member, Elliott Johnson, to commit suicide. The day before Shapps's resignation, Johnson's father had called on Shapps to step down and made the following comments:
|“||Feldman, Shapps and whoever else is involved in this – clearly these senior members of the party have been telling lies ... If they had behaved responsibly ... none of these events would have happened; my son would still be alive and many activists wouldn't have been intimidated and harassed.||”|
Secretary of State for TransportEdit
In May 2008, Shapps was cited as one of several shadow ministers who had received cash from firms linked to their portfolios. The donors were originally recruited by Michael Gove who previously held the shadow housing portfolio. The Conservative party said shadow ministers had not been influenced by donations. "Some Conservative policy on housing is actually against the policy of the donors", said a Conservative spokesman. Shadow ministers are allowed to receive donations from organisations covered by their brief as long as the person has a company in the UK or lives in the UK. The Commissioner exonerated all shadow cabinet members involved.
Denials of pseudonym and second jobEdit
Shapps's use of the pen names Michael Green and Sebastian Fox attracted controversy in 2012. He denied having used a pseudonym after entering parliament and, in 2014, threatened legal action against a constituent who had stated on Facebook that he had. In February 2015 he told LBC Radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty, "Let me get this absolutely clear ... I don't have a second job and have never had a second job while being an MP. End of story."
However, in March 2015, Shapps admitted to having had a second job whilst being an MP, and practising business under a pseudonym. In his admission, he stated that he had "over-firmly denied" having a second job. Under the name Michael Green, Shapps had offered customers a "get-rich-quick scheme" costing $497, and promised customers a "toolkit" that would earn them $20,000 in 20 days, provided they followed its instructions. In March 2015, Dean Archer, the constituent previously threatened with legal action by Shapps, threatened Shapps with legal action.
Allegations of Wikipedia editingEdit
In 2012 the Guardian reported that Shapps's English Wikipedia article had been edited from his office to remove embarrassing information and correct an error. Shapps stated that he had not touched his Wikipedia biography for years and that he only edited to make it more accurate. During the 2015 general election campaign the Guardian reported allegations by a Wikipedia administrator that Shapps had used a sockpuppet account, Contribsx, to remove embarrassing material from his own English Wikipedia page and make "largely unflattering" edits to articles about other politicians, including some in his own party. Shapps denied the allegations; the Telegraph claimed his accuser was a "Liberal Democrat activist". English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee found there was "no significant evidence" to link the Contribsx account to Shapps. The elected committee censured the administrator responsible for the allegation; for causing the investigation; for making false allegations to The Guardian; and for blocking the Contribsx account. Another administrator removed the block placed on the account.
Calling for Theresa May's resignationEdit
In October 2017, Shapps called for Theresa May's resignation, saying that the party could not "bury its head in the sand" in the wake of the June election. The day before, it was suggested that anti-May factions in the Tory party did not have the numbers of votes needed to call for a party leadership election. Shapps said that 30 MPs and "one or two" cabinet ministers agreed with him that Theresa May should resign.
Allegations of 'secret' cryptocurrency tokens pay deal with OpenBrixEdit
In August 2018, the Financial Times reported that it had discovered a 'secret pay deal' between Shapps and OpenBrix, a British blockchain property portal company. The story was extensively covered in the UK and online press, and alleged that Shapps would have received a payment in cryptocurrency tokens with a future value of up to £700,000. Shapps resigned from OpenBrix and his position as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on blockchain which he had founded. Subsequently, Jo Platt, an opposition politician, called for an enquiry into Shapps's conduct, although Shapps maintained that he had confirmed with the standards commissioner that he was not required to register the interest, and that he had recorded the conversation with the relevant official.
In 1990, aged 22, Shapps founded PrintHouse Corporation, a design, print, website creation and marketing business in London, based on a collapsed printing business he purchased from the receiver. He stepped down as a director in 2009, but remained the majority shareholder.
Shapps founded a web publishing business, How To Corp Limited, with his wife while he was recovering from cancer. The company marketed business publications and software. Shapps stood down as a director in July 2008; his wife remained as director until the company was dissolved in 2014.
In 2012, Google blacklisted 19 of the Shapps's business websites for violating rules on copyright infringement related to the web scraping-based TrafficPayMaster software sold by them. The Green's web marketing business's 20/20 Challenge publication also drew criticism. It cost $497 and promised customers earnings of $20,000 in 20 days. Upon purchase, the "toolkit" was revealed to be an ebook, advising the user to create their own toolkit and recruit 100 "Joint Venture Partners" to resell it for a share of the profits.
- "V weird mystery of Grant Shapps' middle name". The Sun. News Group Newspapers Ltd. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
Shapps' birth certificate shows he was given just the one name: Grant.
Stewart, J. (15 October 1968). "No. 273" (image; certified copy of an Entry Pursuant to the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953). 1968 Births in the Sub-District of Watford in the County of Hertford.
, 41 Sycamore Road, Croxley Green; Grant; Boy; ...
Davies, J.L. (31 August 1997). "No.160" (image; Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage given at the General Register Office Application Number 6368696/1). 1997 Marriage solemonized at
Holy Law Synagogue[sic] The Park Royal International Hotel, Stretton Road, Warrington Cheshire; District of Bury in the Borough of Bury. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
; Grant Shapps; Belinda Jo Goldstone ...Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
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- Grant Shapps MP Official constituency site
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Contributions in Parliament during 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 at Hansard Archives
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Articles authored at Journalisted
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
for Welwyn Hatfield
|Party political offices|
The Baroness Warsi
| Chair of the Conservative Party
Served alongside: The Lord Feldman of Elstree
The Lord Feldman of Elstree
The Baroness Warsi
| Minister without portfolio
| Minister of State for International Development
as Undersecretary of State for International Development
| Secretary of State for Transport