CLAIRE Coutinho has been appointed as Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary in Rishi Sunak’s mini-reshuffle, which was prompted by Ben Wallace’s formal resignation.

Grant Shapps has been appointed to replace Wallace as Defence Secretary. Shapps has never held a role in the Ministry of Defence before but is taking on his fifth role in the Cabinet in the last year by becoming its Secretary of State.

Coutinho has served as the MP for East Surrey since 2019 where she won almost 60% of the vote, matching her predecessor in the safe seat.

Here’s what you need to know about her. 

Who is Claire Coutinho?

Born in 1985 in London to parents emigrated from India in the late 1970s, Coutinho was privately educated at James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich before studying mathematics and philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford.

Prior to going into politics, she founded The Novel Diner, a pop-up restaurant which claimed to bring works of fiction to life. 

Coutinho then worked for two years at Iain Duncan Smith's centre-right think tank Centre for Social Justice and became programme director for the industry group Housing and Finance Institute.

The National:

She eventually left the company to become a special adviser at HM Treasury, working under chief whip Julian Smith and then as an aide for Rishi Sunak.

Coutinho was elected as MP for East Surrey in 2019. East Surrey is a safe Conservative seat and had been held by Sam Gyimah for the party. 

Coutinho was a backbench MP until Liz Truss became prime minister in late 2022. Under Truss, she served briefly as a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions. 

After Truss was forced to resign, Coutinho became a minister in the Department for Education in Rishi Sunak's new government.

She has now been moved over to head up the Net Zero and Energy Department.