Grant Shapps

Who is Grant Shapps?

Grant Shapps

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has survived a recent Cabinet reshuffle. In a tweet, he said he was “honoured to be back as secretary of state for transport”. 

But who is Grant Shapps and what does his role in government mean for the future of motoring?

In addition to being the secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps is the local MP for Welwyn Hatfield. He has held the seat since the 2005 General Election.

Born in Hertfordshire in 1968, Shapps studied Business and Finance in Manchester and founded his own printing company at the age of 21. He is married with three children. Shapps also holds a pilot’s licence and lists ‘general aviation’ as a pastime.

Grant Shapps on electric cars

Tesla Model 3

Last year, Shapps took delivery of a Tesla Model 3, having been on the waiting list for two years. In an interview with Peter Tarry for the Sunday Times Magazine, he explained why he bought the electric car.

“I’d never driven a Tesla but knew I wanted to go electric. I’m a bit of a geek and always ahead on gadgets: my phone, for instance, was wireless charging before wireless chargers were commonplace.

“I ordered a Tesla Model 3 with self-driving function (a £5,800 option). Tesla has promised that it will upload the AI (artificial intelligence) for it later in the year. As well as the potential to speed up, slow down and change lane, it will also stop at traffic lights, T-junctions and so on.“

Shapps also owns a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire. Previous cars include “a wonderful” Lotus Elan Turbo and a Chrysler Grand Voyager.

Grant Shapps on the petrol and diesel ban

Diesel use down for the first time in a decade

The transport secretary wants to “normalise electric cars as being the way forward”. This may explain why he told BBC Radio 5 Live that the ban on the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars could be brought forward.

“The Prime Minister last week has said we would like to do it by 2035 at the latest. We have said 2035 or even 2032.

“That’s a consultation for 2032. We have domestic car producers and we want to help them to transition so we are doing a lot of work.”

Grant Shapps on the charging network

10,000 charging locations in the UK

In January 2020, Grant Shapps announced that government funding will be doubled to £10 million for the installation of charge points on residential streets next year. This could fund up to another 3,600 charge points across the country.

He said: “We want to make electric cars the new normal, and ensuring drivers have convenient places to charge is key to that.

“By doubling funding again for charge points on streets where people live and opening up data we are helping drivers easily locate and use affordable, reliable charge points whether at home or on the road.”

Grant Shapps on smart motorways

smart motorway rollout halted

The national rollout of smart motorways has been put on hold after they were linked with an increase in the number of deaths and a 20-fold increase in the number of near-misses.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Shapps said: “The stretch of the M20 and all other stretches that are currently being worked on will not be opened until we have the outcome of the stocktake.

“Last year, sadly, 1,700-plus people died on all of our roads. Motorways are the safest of those roads and the question is, are smart motorways less safe than the rest of the motorway network?

“For me, the answer is that we must make them at least as safe, if not safer, otherwise they can’t continue.”

Shapps came in for some stick when he tweeted about the Cabinet reshuffle. His tweet included a steam of transport-related emojis, including a cable car and a rocket. But there was no space for cycling or walking…

You can follow Grant Shapps on Twitter.