A keen rugby player, who has run the London marathon three times, Crabb was elected MP for his home constituency of Preseli Pembrokeshire in 2005.He is a huge admirer of Margaret Thatcher, having praised the former prime minister for transforming the street where he grew up tahnks to the 'right to buy' council house policy.According to Crabb, Mrs Thacther "was looking to smash down class barriers and be a force for social mobility".

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Crabb himself insists his Christian beliefs have instilled in him a duty to help "the vulnerable".

He worked as a labourer in Newport docks during his summer holidays while a student at Bristol University, where he met his future wife Beatrice.

After Bristol, Crabb studied for an MBA at London Business School before working first for the London Chamber of Commerce and then as a marketing consultant.

My mother was basically living inside a prison suffering massive physical and emotional abuse.

She literally scooped us up in her arms, we got on a train and went to Scotland.” Crabb, now 43 and married with two children, understands the importance of the welfare state in providing a safety net for the poor but is wary of the danger of being trapped in a cycle of dependency.

“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 in a recent interview with the Spectator magazine that could almost serve as a blueprint for his new role.

“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.” He described her journey as “absolutely the model of how the welfare system should work”.

His mother Jacqui brought him and his two brothers up single-handedly in a council flat.

When Crabb was just eight-years-old, Jacqui scooped up her three boys and fled from her violent husband in wales to make a home for themselves 400 miles away in Greenock, outside of Glasgow.