Wales politics

Profile: New Shadow Welsh Secretary Christina Rees

Christina Rees

Christina Rees has been appointed as the new shadow secretary of state for Wales.

She is the fifth person to hold the position since the general election in 2015, when she was elected to parliament.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, she is also the least well known.

Ms Rees has served on Labour's front bench team as a shadow justice minister, but this is her first shadow cabinet position.

Her constituents in Neath will be used to having their MP in that role, as her predecessor was the former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain.

Having entered Parliament in 2015, Ms Rees unsuccessfully put forward legislation to allow the name of the mother of each person getting married to be recorded on marriage certificates.

'One-off'

Outlining the reason for proposing the change in law, Ms Rees told MPs: "My father died when I was a young teenager and my mother brought me up.

"The father of my husband-to-be had also died many years before.

"The two mothers came to the ceremony but their names could not be on the certificate. That was when I realised it was a great injustice."

The "husband-to-be" was the former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies to whom she was married during his time in office from 1997-98.

They divorced in 1999 and have a daughter, Angharad who says her mother is a "one-off".

Christina Rees is no stranger to political life. She stood as the Labour candidate for Arfon in the Welsh Assembly elections in May 2011 and came second.

She has also been a member of the Welsh Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

Ms Rees also (almost) succeeded in making the former Labour Leader Ed Miliband blush during a party conference Q&A when, as a newly elected councillor in Bridgend, she complained "you haven't kissed me, Ed, but you kissed Barbara yesterday and I'm extremely jealous".

Image caption Christina Rees making her maiden speech in the Commons

Ms Rees, who is a qualified barrister, was born in the village of Kenfig Hill in south Wales.

She became head girl of Cynffig Comprehensive School and has a very impressive sporting background.

She represented Wales Schools at tennis, hockey and athletics, and was a member of the Great Britain Youth Team to the Munich Olympics.

But her main sporting achievements came on the squash courts where she represented Wales over 100 times.

However, her love of sport does not extend to golf, which she claims not to understand.

"It involves spending five hours on a golf course," she told a Westminster hall debate last year, "hitting perhaps 100 balls, while on a squash court it is 100 balls in five minutes.

"I am sorry, but I do not get it. That is my personal opinion."

'Dark side'

At the same debate she outlined how sport had helped her as a child.

"I was very shy when I was a child and was bullied, so my mother sent me to judo classes to strengthen me up. I got a black belt first dan when I was 13 and a fourth dan in 1974," she said.

She joked: "I may come across as being rather feeble but I do have a dark side, so be very scared."

Political opponents might want to take note.

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