Maidstone: MP Becomes Sports Minister

Sport will have a new face in government after Downing Street announced that Hugh Robertson, who was both Olympics and sports minister, is to move to the Foreign Office.

Helen Grant, the Conservative MP for Maidstone & the Weald, will succeed Robertson as sports minister. She had been the justice and equalities minister and it appears she will keep responsibility for equalities as well as taking on sport.

Robertson had been at the heart of British sport for more than a decade, first as the shadow sports minister and then taking on the position of Olympics and sports minister himself after the Coalition government was elected in May 2010.

The success of the London 2012 Olympics saw Robertson promoted to minister of state after the Games, and his move to the same position at the Foreign Office is seen as a significant step-up in Government circles.

Apart from his role in helping deliver London 2012, Robertson's achievements included securing public funding for Team GB athletes at the same level for the four years up to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.

He was also a force for change in the modernisation of the Football Association, even if the pace of reform of the governing body remained a frustration up until his last day in the sports ministry.

The appointment of Grant may leave Number 10 open to criticism that it is not taking sport as seriously as it did.

Unlike Robertson, nor one of his predecessors Richard Caborn, she is not a minister of state, and she is being asked to combine the role with the equalities portfolio.

The 52-year-old lawyer became the Tories' first black female MP when she was elected in 2010, to the seat vacated by Ann Widdecombe.

Her website states she was born in London, was brought up on a council estate in Carlisle, and represented Cumbria in hockey, tennis, athletics and cross-country, and later became under-16 Judo champion for the north of England and southern Scotland.

Grant's work on equalities saw her liaise closely with Maria Miller, the current secretary of state for culture, media and sport.

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