Ranil Jayawardena of Sri Lankan origin has been appointed as Britain’s new environment secretary in Liz Truss’ Cabinet, Downing Street said Tuesday.
While leading the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jayawardena will be in charge of Britain’s food and agricultural policies.
Jayawardena, who was previously a junior minister at the international trade department, was an early backer of new Prime Minister Truss. He became an MP in 2015.
The Conservative MP for North East Hampshire will leave his post as Under-Secretary for International Trade and will take over from George Eustice MP, who held the post for over two years following Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle in February 2020.
In a statement on Twitter, Jayawardena shared: “It is a privilege to be appointed the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra). From food security and backing British farmers, to water security and growing our rural economy, I know that there is much to do. It is so important to recognise where our food comes from.”
Kemi Badenoch, who went up against Truss in the Conservative leadership race, will take over from Jayawardena at the Department for International Trade.
His appointment is accompanied by those of Alok Sharma, as new president of COP26, and Graham Stuart, as Minister for Climate in the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
First elected in May 2015, Jayawardena is not shy of high-profile cabinet positions, having been named as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party by Boris Johnson in February 2020. He was also a member of the International Trade, Home Affairs, Procedure, and Arms Export Controls Committees.
It was just three months later that he was moved to the Department of International Trade, following the resignation of Conor Burns.
Prior to his career in Westminster, Jayawardena, whose father is of Sri Lankan origin, worked for Lloyds Banking Group while working his way up in Local Government.
In 2008, he was appointed Deputy Leader of the Borough of Basingstoke and Dean, an area in his current constituency, before running for Parliament in 2015.