Chuka Umunna

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Chuka Umunna
Chuka at Lambeth College-2.JPG
Umunna in 2009
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
In office
7 October 2011 – 13 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by John Denham
Succeeded by Angela Eagle
Member of Parliament
for Streatham
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Keith Hill
Majority 26,285 (47.1%)
Personal details
Born Chuka Harrison Umunna
(1978-10-17) 17 October 1978 (age 38)
London, England, UK
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Alice Sullivan (2016—)
Alma mater University of Manchester
Nottingham Trent University
Website Official website

Chuka Harrison Umunna (born 17 October 1978) is a British Labour politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Streatham since 2010 and was Shadow Business Secretary from 2011 to 2015.[1][2][3][4]


Umunna was born in London, England. His father Bennett, of the Nigerian Igbo ethnic group,[5] died in a road accident in Nigeria in 1992.[6] Umunna's mother, Patricia Milmo, a solicitor, is of English-Irish background.[5][7] Umunna's maternal grandparents were Joan Frances (Morley) and Sir Helenus Milmo QC, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.[8] He is married to Alice Sullivan, an employment lawyer.[9]


Umunna was educated at Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham, South London, and the Christ Church Primary School in Brixton Hill. He says his parents felt that the local state school had "given up on him" and as a result had moved him to the boys' independent senior school St Dunstan's College,[10] in Catford in south-east London, where he played the cello.[11] During this period he was also a chorister at Southwark Cathedral.[12] He was awarded an upper second class LLB in English and French Law from the University of Manchester; after graduating he studied for one term at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, before studying for an MA at Nottingham Trent.[13]

He has said that his politics and moral values come from Christianity, but that he is "not majorly religious".[14][15]

Legal career[edit]

After university, in 2002, he began work as a solicitor for the City of London firm Herbert Smith. In 2006 he joined Rochman Landau (now Ashfords LLP), specialising in employment law. From 2006 onwards, Umunna began to write and provide commentary on the Labour Party, as well as broader social and economic issues, usually in his capacity as a member of the Management Committee of the Labour-aligned Compass pressure group. He also wrote articles for the Financial Times, Tribune, The Voice, The Guardian and the New Statesman, and began to appear on various radio and television programmes as a commentator.[16][17] He founded and edited the online political magazine, The Multicultural Politic.[18] In 2007, he campaigned for Jon Cruddas' unsuccessful bid to become Labour deputy leader.

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

In March 2008, Umunna was adopted as the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Streatham.[19] At the 2010 general election, he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Streatham with a 3,259 majority;[20] he gave his maiden speech on 2 June 2010.[21] He took a particular interest in economic policy and reform of the City.

Umunna increased his majority to 13,934 at the 2015 General Election, with 53% of the vote in his constituency.[22]

Umunna has described himself as being "One Nation Labour" and has written articles promoting the "Blue Labour" trend.[23][24] He has also described himself as a "modern European social democrat".[9]

Umunna argued that the Conservative-led Coalition Government (2010–2015) should revise its programme of fiscal consolidation, take a tougher stance with the British banking industry and take action to transform the credit ratings agency market.[25][26][27] Umunna was one of 73 Labour MPs to nominate Ed Miliband in the 2010 Labour leadership election to succeed Gordon Brown as party leader.[28]

Treasury Select Committee[edit]

In June 2010, he was elected as a member of the Treasury Select Committee.[29] In January 2011, Umunna questioned the chief executive of Barclays, Bob Diamond, in relation to alleged tax avoidance activities by the bank during which he disclosed that the bank used over 300 subsidiary companies in offshore jurisdictions.[30] In response to a question from Umunna, Diamond admitted in February 2011 that Barclays had paid £113m in UK corporation tax in 2009, despite making £11.6bn in profit.[31] He held this position until his appointment to Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise.

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

In October 2010, following Miliband's election as party leader, Umunna was appointed to serve as his Parliamentary Private Secretary and, in May 2011, he was appointed to the position of Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise until his promotion to the Shadow Cabinet.[32]

Umunna was promoted as Shadow Business Secretary on 7 October 2011, replacing John Denham, who announced his retirement from front-bench politics.[33] Following his appointment, Umunna re-affirmed Labour's commitment to introducing a graduate tax in place of university tuition fees. In January 2012, Umunna joined Ed Miliband and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves in calling on PM David Cameron to block a £1.6m bonus for Stephen Hester, the chief executive officer of the publicly owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group.[34] During 2013, Umunna led claims that the Government's valuation of the Royal Mail during its privatisation had effectively "shortchanged" the taxpayer, a view supported by the significant rise in the share price following the sale and the subsequent summoning of bankers to a parliamentary investigation.[35][36]

In early April 2013, Umunna's law firm was linked to favourable updates made on his Wikipedia page in 2007, which included a reference to him being tipped as the "British Barack Obama".[37][38] In the same month, Umunna was criticised for comments he had made in his mid 20s on the exclusive social network ASmallWorld about the West End of London. Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris said the 2006 comments, describing people visiting nightclubs in the West End as "trash" and "c-list wannabes", showed a "lack of respect for the public"; Umunna stated that the comments were meant to have been "light-hearted in tone and context" but appreciated that "the choice of words used were not appropriate" and apologised for any offence.[3]

Umunna was accused of hypocrisy for accepting a £20,000 gift from a gambling executive despite campaigning against the spread of betting shops in his constituency and promising new powers to limit them.[39]

In early May 2014, Umunna raised concerns in Parliament[40] and public over the proposed takeover of AstraZeneca, by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, on the grounds of ensuring British jobs and interests.[41] Despite assurances from Pfizer, Umunna went on to publicly denounce the proposed takeover proclaiming that Pfizer's assurances were "not worth the paper they were written on".[42] The takeover bid eventually fell through in late May 2014 after the AstraZeneca board rejected Pfizer's final offer.[43]

In May 2014, Umunna criticised fellow Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham's report into possible methods of restricting the sale and advertising of alcohol, unhealthy foods, and tobacco. He was quoted as having said that such courses of action as outlined in the report would be seen to be "anti-business and interventionist".[44]

Ummuna has argued for a British federal state on multiple occasions, and has said that progressives should not dismiss George Osborne's notion of a "Northern Powerhouse", arguing that greater devolution, federalisation of the UK Labour Party into individual Labour Parties representing each component nation of the UK, greater political autonomy for England in particular, more regional powers and "wholescale federalisation" are necessary to advance the Labour Party.[45][46][47][48]

In September 2015, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the Labour Party, Umuna announced his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet and returned to the backbenches, citing differences over the Brexit referendum and issues of collective ministerial responsibility.[4][49]

Leadership election and withdrawal[edit]

Following Labour's defeat in the 2015 general election and the resignation of leader Ed Miliband, Umunna was identified as one of the potential candidates to take over as leader of the party.[50] He called for Labour to target Conservatives and "aspirational, middle-class voters",[51] saying that the party needs to be "on the side of those who are doing well."[52] On 12 May, he announced his candidature for the Labour Party leadership election.[53] Three days later, he withdrew from the contest, stating that he had been "uncomfortable" with "the added level of scrutiny that came with being a leadership candidate".[54] On 26 May, he announced his endorsement of Liz Kendall, who was unsuccessful in her bid for the Labour leadership.[55]


  1. ^ "Labour appoints fresh face to replace John Denham". Times Higher Education. 7 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Debrett's 500". 
  3. ^ a b "Labour MP Chuka Umunna apologises for comments on elite social network saying London's nightclubs are 'full of trash'". The Independent. London. 5 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Statement by Chuka Umunna MP on leaving the Shadow Cabinet by mutual agreement". 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Parker, George (19 July 2013). "Chuka Umunna: Profile". Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Bloss, Andrew (3 August 2012). "Friends fear Crystal Palace director was assassinated". The Croydon Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Rose Troup Buchanan (9 May 2015). "Chuka Umunna: Could Shadow Business Secretary be the next Labour leader?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "The British Obama? No, Labour high-flyer Chuka's the black Blair". Daily Mail. 30 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Labour MP Chuka Umunna reveals wedding photo after marriage to lawyer fiancee". The Sun (United Kingdom). 17 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Who can lead Labour? Chuka Umunna can". London Evening Standard. London. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Chuka Umunna: Profile". The Financial Times (FT Magazine). London. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Chuka Umunna Coy About Leadership Ambitions". Sky News. 1 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Nottingham Trent alumnus Chuka Umunna announces he will run for Labour leadership". Nottingham Post. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "'Chuka Umunna: "I'm fed up with being in the shadows"'". 30 September 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Walker, Tim (12 November 2011). "'Don't compare me to Obama' Is Chuka Umunna Britain's first black PM?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  16. ^ Umunna, Chuka (30 August 2007). "The duty to inspire". 
  17. ^ Umunna, Chuka (11 September 2006). "Ask the expert: Diversity in the City". Financial Times. 
  18. ^ Umunna, Chuka (15 April 2007). "TMP is born". The Multicultural Politic. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Chuka wins race to become Labour's Streatham MP candidate". Streatham Guardian. 17 March 2008. 
  20. ^ "Streatham". The Guardian. 
  21. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (2 June 2010). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 02 Jun 2010 (pt 0015)". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Streatham Parliamentary Constituency". BBC. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "Chuka Umunna MP " One Nation Labour". Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  24. ^ "Chuka Umunna: My vision for One Nation Labour". Left Foot Forward. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  25. ^ Chuka Umunna; Duncan Weldon (25 October 2010). "The man's not for turning". New Statesman. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Credit Rating Agencies: 16 Nov 2010: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "New Clause 3 – Bank taxation: 8 Nov 2010: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  28. ^ "Ed Miliband: Nominations". Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  29. ^ "Treasury Committee – membership – UK Parliament". 9 June 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  30. ^ O'Hare, Sean (17 January 2011). "Labour MP urges Barclay's chief to reduce offshore subsidiaries". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  31. ^ Treannor, Jill (18 February 2011). "Barclays bank forced to admit it paid just £113m in corporation tax in 2009". The Guardian. London. 
  32. ^ "The London Hustings". London Evening Standard. April 2015. 
  33. ^ "Ed Miliband promotes fresh faces to Labour top team". BBC News. 7 October 2011. 
  34. ^ Syal, Rajeev (23 January 2012). "Ed Miliband calls for Stephen Hester to be denied a reported £1.6m RBS bonus". The Guardian. London. 
  35. ^ "Umunna: Taxpayer 'shortchanged' by Royal Mail sale". ITV News. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  36. ^ "MPs summon bankers to explain their valuations of Royal Mail". The Guardian. London. 8 November 2012. 
  37. ^ Kember, Billy (12 April 2013). "Flattering 'British Obama' edit on Wikipedia raises questions for MP Chuka Umunna". The Times (London). Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  38. ^ Hope, Christopher (7 April 2013). "Labour star Chuka Umunna admits his aides probably set up and edited his own Wikipedia page". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  39. ^ Morris, Nigel (6 August 2013). "Rising star of Labour and betting shop critic Chuka Umunna faces embarrassment after accepting £20,000 gift from gambling executive". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  40. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 06 May 2014 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  41. ^ "Chuka Umunna: "Grave concern" over potential AstraZeneca deal". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. 
  42. ^ "Pfizer assurances 'not worth paper they're written on'". ITV News. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  43. ^ "Pfizer admits defeat on AstraZeneca bid". ITV News. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  44. ^ Prynne, Miranda (4 May 2014). "Labour plans for a crackdown on drinking, smoking and unhealthy food". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  45. ^ Mason, Rowena (17 October 2015). "Chuka Umunna warns Labour not to dismiss Osborne's northern powerhouse". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  46. ^ Brown, Graeme (30 October 2014). "Chuka Umunna calls for regional mayors in 'more federal' UK". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  47. ^ Bennett, Owen (22 July 2015). "Chuka Umunna To Call For An English Parliament As He Urges Labour To Modernise". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  48. ^ Umunna, Chuka (27 October 2015). "Britain needs wholesale federalisation – and Labour must lead the way". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  49. ^ Clarke-Billings, Lucy (13 September 2015). "Chuka Umunna steps down from Jeremy Corbyn shadow cabinet after 'mutual agreement". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  50. ^ Ganesh, Janan (8 May 2015). "Cameron can savour campaign success". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  51. ^ "Chuka Umunna calls for Labour to target Conservative and "aspirational, middle-class voters"". 9 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  52. ^ "Umunna: We failed to speak to 'aspirational middle-class'". ITV News. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  53. ^ "Chuka Umunna to run for Labour leader". BBC News. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  54. ^ "Chuka Umunna withdraws Labour leader bid". BBC. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  55. ^ "Why we are endorsing Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership". New Statesman. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Keith Hill
Member of Parliament
for Streatham

Political offices
Preceded by
John Denham
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Succeeded by
Angela Eagle