Stephen Crabb profile: How a working-class boy rose through Tory ranks to become Work and Pensions Secretary

Mr Crabb has served as Secretary of State for Wales 

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The Independent Online

Stephen Crabb has been announced as the new Work and Pensions Secretary after Iain Duncan Smith’s surprise resignation on Friday.

The Secretary of State for Wales's appointment was confirmed after Mr Duncan Smith quit his role over the Government’s planned cuts to benefits for disabled claimants. Alun Cairns has been promoted to the role of Welsh Secretary.

Mr Crabb, 43, is married with a son and daughter. His family live near Haverfordwest, where he and his two brothers were raised by their single mother.  

Growing up

The Preseli Pembrokeshire MP's ascension through the Tory ranks is unusual in that unlike his Eton-educated colleagues, he was not privately educated and grew up on a council estate. He played lead guitar in “pretty crap rock band” before starting work as a labourer in Newport and then Brighton. His political career kicked off after he graduated from university in Bristol, where he met his wife Beatrice, and he was elected as an MP in 2005. 

He is a practicing Christian and says his beliefs are shaped by his childhood growing up in an estate and his Christian faith.

Political background

Mr Crabb was appointed as Welsh Secretary after the sacking of David Jones. Before this, he served as a junior minister in the Wales Office.

He has been a vocal supporter of Mr Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, telling the Spectator in July 2015: “One of the arguments I’ve been trying to make is that we can’t go soft on welfare reform in a place like Wales — it’s precisely the place that needs it.”

He also voted against legalising same-sex marriage in Wales and England in 2013, describing his decision as the most difficult vote he has ever taken part in, but not one he regrets.

Views on welfare

In the same Spectator interview, Mr Crabb said his mother’s life and split from his father informed his beliefs on welfare.

"The most powerful thing to me, looking back, is the way that my mother went through a crisis in her life and became welfare dependent," he said. “She started working just a few hours each week, increasing her hours and then moving to a position where with extra training she was able to move into full-time work, become a car owner, and reach full economic independence.”

Mr Crabb said he and his brothers were bullied as children when their mother was unable to buy them school uniform, telling the Daily Mail: “When people talk about hard choices between heating or eating or buying clothes, I know what it’s like. I’m not saying we lived in poverty in a cave, but there were a few Christmases as kids when we relied on the kindness of friends and the church.”