Bernard Jenkin

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Sir Bernard Jenkin
Official portrait of Sir Bernard Jenkin MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Chair of the Liaison Committee
Assumed office
23 May 2020
Preceded bySarah Wollaston
Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee
Public Administration Committee (2010–2015)
In office
10 June 2010 – 29 January 2020
Preceded byTony Wright
Succeeded byWilliam Wragg
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
1 December 2005 – 7 November 2006
Serving with The Lord Ashcroft
LeaderMichael Howard
David Cameron
Succeeded byJohn Maples
Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change
In office
10 May 2005 – 8 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Shadow Secretary of State for the Regions
In office
11 November 2003 – 6 May 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byDavid Davis
Succeeded byCaroline Spelman
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
18 September 2001 – 6 November 2003
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byIain Duncan Smith
Succeeded byNicholas Soames
Shadow Minister for Transport
In office
19 June 1998 – 1 September 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byTim Yeo
Succeeded byEric Pickles
Member of Parliament
for Harwich and North Essex
North Essex (1997–2010)
Colchester North (1992–1997)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded byAntony Buck
Majority20,182 (38.8%)
Personal details
Born (1959-04-09) 9 April 1959 (age 63)
Wood Green, Middlesex, England
Political partyConservative
(m. 1988)
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA)

Sir Bernard Christison Jenkin (born 9 April 1959) is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Harwich and North Essex since 2010. He also serves as chair of the Liaison Committee. He was first elected to represent Colchester North in 1992, and went on to represent North Essex before the Harwich and North Essex constituency was created.

Jenkin was elected chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee in May 2010. He is a long-standing critic of the European Union, believing that the EU undermines the United Kingdom's national sovereignty, and he was one of the Maastricht Rebels during the premiership of John Major. In the 2016 EU referendum he supported Brexit and from 2017 he was one of the most vocal supporters of the Eurosceptic pressure group Leave Means Leave.

Early life[edit]

Jenkin was born on 9 April 1959 to Patrick Jenkin (later Baron Jenkin of Roding), the life peer and former cabinet minister, and Monica Jenkin (née Graham).[citation needed] He is a male-line descendant of the scientist Fleeming Jenkin. He was educated at Highgate School, William Ellis School (also in Highgate) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a choral exhibition and gained an BA honours degree in English literature in 1982. He was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1982. He worked for Ford and the private equity company 3i as Manager of Legal & General Ventures from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 1995, he was an advisor to Legal & General Group plc.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Declaring that he wanted to "illustrate that people in the south-east haven't forgotten about Scotland",[1] Jenkin stood for election in Glasgow Central at the 1987 general election. At the 1992 general election he was elected as MP for Colchester North.

During John Major's government, Jenkin was one of the Maastricht Rebels who defied the party whip to oppose the Maastricht Treaty. When the Colchester North constituency was abolished for the 1997 general election, Jenkin was returned to the House of Commons for the newly-re-established North Essex constituency.[2]

William Hague appointed him Shadow Minister for Transport (1998–2001). He has also served as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence (2001–2003) under Iain Duncan Smith and Shadow Regions Secretary (2003–2005) under Michael Howard. He has also been Shadow Energy Minister.

Jenkin was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, and had responsibility for candidates, until 7 November 2006, when this role was given to John Maples.[3] Jenkin's deputy chairman role came to an end when, during a shadow cabinet reshuffle, he was offered another frontbench position, which he declined, reportedly saying to David Cameron that only a return to the shadow cabinet would interest him.[4]

In 2006, Jenkin used racial descriptor "coloured" when referring to a British Asian Conservative A-List candidate, Ali Miraj.[5]

Jenkin, who gained a reputation as a critic of the Coalition government, led calls to drop the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012.[6] Jenkin voted in favour of same sex marriage in 2013 "as a matter of principle", whilst acknowledging the decision to hold the debate caused much "political unhappiness".[7]

In January 2014, Jenkin drafted a letter calling for Prime Minister Cameron to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU to give the House of Commons powers to veto EU legislation, which was ultimately signed by 95 MPs, and reportedly backed by another six.[8] Following the Scottish independence referendum and promises made to further devolve powers to Scotland Jenkin called for the creation of an "English First Minister" and for departments responsible for policy that applied only in England to be accountable only to the English MPs.[9]

Following the 2015 general election, he was returned unopposed as the chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.[10]

Jenkin was one of the most vocal supporters of the Eurosceptic pressure group Leave Means Leave.[11]

In September 2019, Jenkin criticised the House of Commons speaker John Bercow, stating that he was "irretrievably politicised and radicalised". This comment came after Bercow made a speech warning Boris Johnson that "the only form of Brexit which we will have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed".[12]

In December 2019, Jenkin voted in favour of the withdrawal agreement.[13]

Although a sceptic of lockdown, Jenkin supported the first COVID-19 tier regulations in England. However, he urged the prime minister to put forward a white paper on the issue, setting out how the UK can deal with COVID-19 through treatments, social distancing and an improved NHS Test and Trace.[14]

In 2021, he was a critic of Russia, and urged the government to take action in Ukraine.[15]

Expenses claims[edit]

In May 2009, Jenkin was reported by The Daily Telegraph to have used £50,000 in expenses to pay his sister-in-law rent on the property he uses as his constituency home. Jenkin claimed that he was just paying "an honest and reasonable rent" for the property.[16] On 27 October 2009, it was initially recommended that Bernard Jenkin pay back £63,250 by expenses auditor Sir Thomas Legg. This is the highest amount known to have been recommended after an audit of MPs' claims on second homes expenses. His father ultimately settled the bill for him[17][18] This amount was reduced to £36,250 following an appeal.[19]

Combat Stress[edit]

Jenkin is the vice-president of the UK charity Combat Stress, which offers residential treatment to ex-servicemen and women suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. To mark his 50th birthday, he held a fundraising event in March 2009 which raised over £50,000 for the charity.[20]

In popular culture[edit]

Jenkin was portrayed by Tim McMullan in the 2019 Channel 4 drama Brexit: The Uncivil War.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Jenkin married Anne Strutt in 1988 and has two sons. He is an occasional naturist,[23][24] and a long-time acquaintance of screenwriter Richard Curtis, who typically includes a character named 'Bernard' in everything he writes.[25]

Jenkin contracted COVID-19 in March 2022.[26]


In 2018, Jenkin was awarded with a knighthood honouring his political and public service.[27]


Jenkin is in favour of marriage equality and was nominated for a Stonewall award in 2013.[28] The environment is one of his main policy concerns: The Climate Coalition awarded him the Green Heart Hero Award for his eco-friendly lifestyle choices.[29]


  1. ^ "Cahoots, mon". The Times. 25 November 1986.
  2. ^ Stott, Matt (8 May 2015). "Bernard Jenkin majority surges". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Jenkin axed in Cameron reshuffle". BBC News. 8 November 2006. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  4. ^ Carlin, Brendan; Isaby, Jonathan (8 November 2006). "Senior Tory sacked in 'A-list' race row". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  5. ^ Browne, Anthony (9 November 2006). "Jenkin in new race row after 'coloured' remark". The Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  6. ^ Watt, Nicholas (10 July 2012). "Rebel Tories scupper motion for House of Lords reform bill". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  7. ^ Jenkin, Bernard (5 February 2013). "Why I, a practising member of the Church of England, will vote for same-sex marriage today". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  8. ^ Ross, Tim (11 January 2014). "95 Tory MPs call for EU law veto". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Tory backbencher calls for 'England First Minister'". ITV News. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  12. ^ Evans, Albert (13 September 2019). "Tory MP Bernard Jenkin accuses John Bercow of operating a 'majoritarian dictatorship' over Brexiters". i. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  13. ^ "European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Second Reading - Commons' votes in Parliament". UK Parliament. 20 December 2019.
  14. ^ Casalicchio, Emilio (2 November 2020). "5 things the UK's lockdown-skeptic MPs want from Boris Johnson". POLITICO. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  15. ^ Dwan, James (7 December 2021). "Harwich MP: 'We are are in a hybrid war' against Russia". Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  16. ^ "Stop MP humiliation – archbishop". BBC News. 23 May 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  17. ^ "MP told to repay £63,250 expenses". BBC News. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  18. ^ Parkes, Tom (27 October 2009). "MP ordered to pay back more than £60,000". Daily Gazette (Colchester). Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  19. ^ Watt, Holly (30 January 2010). "MPs' expenses: Bernard Jenkin has repayment halved". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  20. ^ Brading, Wendy (20 March 2009). "Colchester: Gala event for charity". Essex County Standard. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  21. ^ Bennett, Asa (28 December 2018). "Brexit: The Uncivil War review: Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in this thrilling romp through the referendum". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  22. ^ Matthew Elliott (4 January 2019). "Vote Leave's Matthew Elliott on Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War". Financial Times. Screenwriter James Graham has turned the campaign into a compelling story – and nailed my mannerisms
  23. ^ Hoggart, Simon (2 December 2010). "Register MPs' hobbies? Please no". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  24. ^ "The people's choice?". BBC News. 22 March 2002. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  25. ^ Born, Matt (13 November 2003). "Why Tory MP is the father of all Bernards". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  26. ^ Casalicchio, Emilio [@e_casalicchio] (29 March 2022). "Bernard Jenkin has COVID" (Tweet). Retrieved 29 March 2022 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Jennings, Ryan (11 June 2019). "Arise Sir Bernard! Jenkin humbled with knighthood". Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  28. ^ "STONEWALL AWARDS 2013 ANNOUNCED". Stonewall.
  29. ^ "'Keep it Local, Personal and Funny.' Good climate lobbying according to Bernard Jenkin MP". Hope for the Future. 23 May 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2022.

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Colchester North

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for North Essex

Member of Parliament
for Harwich and North Essex

Political offices
Preceded byas Shadow Minister for Environment, Transport and the Regions Shadow Minister for Transport
Succeeded by
Preceded by Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Shadow Secretary of State for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Shadow Secretary of State for the Regions
Succeeded byas Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government Affairs and Communities
Preceded by
Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
With: The Lord Ashcroft
Succeeded by