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Shailesh Lakhman Vara (born 4 September 1960) is a British politician. He is a member of the Conservative Party and 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.

Shailesh Vara

Official portrait of Mr Shailesh Vara crop 2.jpg
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
9 January 2018 – 15 November 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byChloe Smith
Succeeded byJohn Penrose
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
8 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byposition established
Succeeded byCaroline Nokes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Aid
In office
7 October 2013 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHelen Grant
Succeeded bySam Gyimah
Member of Parliament
for North West Cambridgeshire
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
David Cameron
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded byBrian Mawhinney
Majority18,008 (28.1%)
Personal details
Shailesh Lakhman Vara

(1960-09-04) 4 September 1960 (age 59)
Political partyConservative
Alma materBrunel University

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 (NIO) under Karen Bradley in January 2018. Vara resigned as an NIO minister in November 2018 over the Government's proposed Brexit agreement.

Early lifeEdit

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, 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 careerEdit

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.

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 BillEdit

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 member's bill to the House of Commons in 2006.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

Resignation as Northern Ireland MinisterEdit

Early on 15 November 2018, Vara announced his resignation as a Northern Ireland Minister on Twitter, posting his letter of resignation. His resignation followed the previous day's marathon-length cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.[8]

Vara was opposed to Brexit prior to the referendum on the UK's continued EU membership in June 2016.[9] However, Vara resigned from his role at the Northern Ireland Office as he did not believe the Government's proposed exit agreement honoured the outcome of the referendum.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

Vara is married with two children. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.[11]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Breast Cancer Bill". Shailesh Vara MP. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Vara, Shailesh. "Government Blocks Breast Cancer Bill". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Wear it pink for cancer campaign, Peterborough Telegraph, 24 October 2006
  8. ^ McCormack, Jayne (15 November 2018). "Brexit deal: NIO Minister of State Shailesh Vara resigns". BBC News – via
  9. ^ "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPs stand". BBC News. 22 June 2016 – via
  10. ^ "READ IN FULL: Shailesh Vara's resignation letter to Theresa May over 'half-way house' Brexit deal". 15 November 2018.
  11. ^ New Model Tories: Tory tribes, The Independent, 24 September 2006

External linksEdit