Wales politics

Who is the new Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns?

Alun Cairns

Much like his former boss Stephen Crabb, Alun Cairns has gone from modest beginnings to one of the most important jobs in Welsh politics - secretary of state for Wales.

The 45-year-old worked in the private sector before joining the first cohort of AMs in the 1990s in his 20s, switching to Westminster at the start of this decade.

Brought up in Clydach, near Swansea, his father was a Port Talbot steelworker and his mother a shopkeeper.

It was here that his political awareness developed.

According to the Tory website, he saw that "a close family member, who ran her own small grocery shop worked all hours possible for almost 50 years, ended up worse off than many of our neighbours who hadn't bothered working, in spite of being able to do so".

Mr Cairns was a pupil at the Welsh-speaking comprehensive school of Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, and worked as a petrol pump attendant before joining the Lloyd's Bank.

At the age of 28, when he was elected for the Conservatives in the regional seat of South Wales West in the first Welsh Assembly. It was his first job as an elected politician.

'Undertaker'

During his time as an AM, Mr Cairns was his party's economy spokesman and it was in this role that he had the job of scrutinising Rhodri Morgan in the early days of the assembly.

It once led Morgan to joke that he looked like "a Victorian undertaker looking forward to winter" - a line Mr Cairns later used himself to mock then Labour leader Ed Miliband.

In 2008 he resigned from his post as the party's education spokesman after likening Italians to "greasy wops". He apologised for the remarks as soon as he made them on BBC Radio Cymru.

The gaffe did not derail his political career, however, and Mr Cairns was elected as the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan in 2010, standing down from the assembly the following year.

He became a junior minister in the Wales Office in July 2014, under the previous Tory/Lib Dem coalition, and kept his job after the Conservatives won their first majority since the 1990s in 2015.

Mr Cairns lives in the Vale with his wife Emma, who runs her own business, and their son Henri.

He has completed four London Marathons in aid of local charities and was the fastest MP to complete the 26-mile course last year.

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