Who is Jo Stevens, the new Welsh Secretary?

Jo Stevens
Jo Stevens arrives at 10 Downing Street after being appointed Welsh Secretary [Getty Images]

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has included 11 women - a record number - in his new cabinet.

Among them is the Cardiff East MP Jo Stevens, who has become the new secretary of state for Wales.

Ms Stevens was first elected to parliament in May 2015, representing the former constituency of Cardiff Central.

The mum-of-two, who has lived in Cardiff for 34 years, has said she is "really proud of our vibrant, modern, multicultural capital city".

In her maiden speech to the House of Commons, Ms Stevens even name-checked the capital's iconic Caroline Street, better known as Chippy Lane .

"We have a famous Caroline Street," she told MPs.

"Where early and late-night city centre revellers enjoy our special Welsh delicacy of chicken curry, half 'n' half."

Solicitor turned MP

Ms Stevens was born in Swansea and grew up in Nynydd Isa, Flintshire.

She graduated from Manchester University in 1988 and worked as a solicitor for more than two decades.

She has been a Labour member and activist for more than 30 years and, since becoming an MP in 2015, has held several positions in Labour's shadow cabinet - including shadow Welsh secretary and shadow culture secretary.

She has previously also sat on a number of select committees, including the Justice Select Committee and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Jo Stevens in a black suit with a green satin shirt, she is smiling at the camera and holding a red folder
Jo Stevens walks outside Downing Street on the day of the first cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Keir Starmer [Reuters]

During her time as shadow Welsh secretary, Ms Stevens made her position clear on a number of policy areas - including opposing the devolution of criminal justice to the Welsh government.

She said problems with crime were too urgent to begin "fiddling" over the responsibility of police, courts and prisons to Wales.

She refused to be drawn on whether Wales would receive extra funding after the second leg of the HS2 high speed rail line was scrapped.

And she said the UK Labour government would not give the Welsh government full control over the replacement for European Union funds.

Earlier this year, Ms Stevens' Cardiff office was daubed in red paint and posters accusing her of having "blood on her hands" after she abstained on a Gaza vote in the House of Commons. She later called the incident "intimidating".

Cardiff City FC fan

Ms Stevens has said she enjoys "real ale, good books, the arts and music".

She has also described herself as an "avid follower of many sports" and a member of Glamorgan County Cricket Club, as well as a regular at Cardiff City FC and Cardiff Blues games.

Her political hero is Mo Mowlam, the former Labour MP and Northern Ireland Secretary, who helped to secure the Good Friday Agreement.

And her favourite takeaway? A battered sausage, curry sauce and chips from the Albany fish Bar in Roath.