North East Beds MP Alistair Burt returns to Foreign Office with responsibility for Middle East and North Africa

North East Beds MP Alistair Burt, who has returned to the Foreign Office with responsibility for the

North East Beds MP Alistair Burt, who has returned to the Foreign Office with responsibility for the Middle East. - Credit: Archant

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt is back in government as a foreign office minister – and he’s looking forward to working with Britain’s Middle East partners again.

Mr Burt is the new Minister of State for International Development and Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following Theresa May’s post-election reshuffle.

The 62-year-old Conservative – who first entered parliament in 1983, and has represented North East Beds since 2001 – previously served in the Foreign Office from 2010 to 2013, among other things overseeing British policy on Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Responsibilities in his new roles include the Middle East and North Africa, security and humanitarian efforts. He replaces Tobias Ellwood, who has moved to the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Burt said: “I am honoured to be appointed as a Foreign Office minister and look forward to working closely with our international partners to support peace, security and prosperity across the Middle East and North Africa.

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“The UK has longstanding and important relationships across the region which I will work hard to maintain and strengthen even further.”

On Twitter, he added: “Very proud to be joining such a terrific group of people committed to the UK and the world.”

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During his previous spell in the Foreign Office, Mr Burt among other things worked to help bring about the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from the captivity of Palestinian terror group Hamas.

He also advocated military intervention against the Syrian government over the use of chemical weapons, and said a 2013 parliament vote against such action created a “constitutional mess”.

When he stepped down in October 2013, he was saluted by as Bayan Sami Rahman of the Kurdistan regional government as “a very able minister with compassion and genuine interest in the Middle East, including Kurdistan and Iraq”.

Those congratulating Mr Burt on his new appointment last week included ex-MP Matthew Gordon Banks, who tweeted: “Alistair, forgive me – you have had more comebacks than Vera Lynn. One of the PM’s better decisions, bringing you back. The government needs you.”

Former BBC presenter Giles Dilnot added: “I’m glad Alistair Burt is back in govenrment. Well liked and one of parliament’s true gentlemen.”

Biggleswade Athletic Club president Mr Burt – who campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union – served as community and social care minister at the Department of Health from May 2015 to July 2016, and was comfortably re-elected in the General Election earlier this month.

According to parliament’s register of financial interests, he has been on expenses-paid trips to Bahrain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates over the past year.

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