Craig Mackinlay

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Craig Mackinlay

Official portrait of Craig Mackinlay crop 2.jpg
Mackinlay in 2017
Member of Parliament
for South Thanet
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byLaura Sandys
Majority10,587 (21.9%)
Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party
In office
September 1997 – 22 January 2000
LeaderAlan Sked
Michael Holmes
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGraham Booth
Leader of the UK Independence Party
In office
6 August 1997 – September 1997
Preceded byAlan Sked
Succeeded byMichael Holmes
Treasurer of the UK Independence Party
In office
3 September 1993 – 6 August 1997
LeaderMichael Holmes
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byAndrew Smith
Personal details
Born (1966-10-07) 7 October 1966 (age 54)
Chatham, Kent, England
Political partyUK Independence Party (Before 2005)
Conservative (2005–present)
Spouse(s)Kati Mackinlay
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham

Craig Mackinlay JP (born 7 October 1966) is a Conservative Party politician and businessman.[1] Since May 2015, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Thanet.

Initially a member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Mackinlay served as deputy leader of UKIP in 1997,[2] before joining the Conservative Party in 2005.[3]

Early life[edit]

Of Scottish heritage, Mackinlay was born on 7 October 1966 in Chatham and raised in Kent. After attending Rainham Mark Grammar School, he went up to the University of Birmingham, where he read zoology and comparative physiology. After graduating with the degree of BSc, he qualified as a chartered accountant (FCA) and as a chartered tax adviser (CTA) and is now partner in a Kent firm.[4]

Political background[edit]

Mackinlay first became engaged in politics after observing the impact of Britain's membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on clients and friends who were going bankrupt as a result of soaring interest rates.[5] After hearing Alan Sked, a professor at the London School of Economics, speak on a BBC politics programme,[6] he was persuaded to stand at the 1992 general election as an independent in support of the Anti-Federalist League, receiving 248 votes in Gillingham.[7]


When the Anti-Federalist League evolved into the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Mackinlay was appointed its founding treasurer[8] and Vice-Chairman. He stood again in Gillingham at the 1997 general election, receiving 590 votes.[9]

In July 1997, Sked resigned as UKIP leader, nominating Mackinlay as his successor.[10] Mackinlay decided that the only way to keep the party going was to rework its constitution and hold a leadership election. Mackinlay stood in the election against Michael Holmes[11] and Gerald Roberts. Holmes, with the backing of Nigel Farage, easily won and appointed Mackinlay as his deputy.[10]

After the European Parliament election in 1999, Holmes dismissed Mackinlay and Party Secretary Tony Scholefield at an NEC meeting, which prompted an immediate vote of no confidence in Holmes, who agreed to resign the following month. After extensive wrangling, Jeffrey Titford was elected as the new party leader; Mackinlay stepped down as deputy, but remained on its NEC.[10]

Mackinlay remained active in UKIP, standing in Totnes at the 2001 general election, at which he received 6.1% of the vote,[12] then back again in Gillingham in 2005, where he polled 2.6%.[9] He also stood unsuccessfully in the 1994, 1999 and 2004 European elections.[13]

Conservative Party[edit]

In July 2005, Mackinlay defected from UKIP to the Conservative Party.[2] He was elected as a Conservative councillor on Medway Council in 2007 and re-elected in May 2011 with an increased majority.[14][15]

In 2010, he fell out with Kent Police over Special Constable David Craggs, who was advised that there would be no conflict with him standing for election to Medway Council but, after being elected as a councillor, was informed that he could not hold both roles.[16] In May 2011, Mackinlay was appointed a member of Kent Police Authority.[17]

In June 2012, Mackinlay was selected as the Conservative candidate for the office of Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. In the November 2012 county-wide poll, he was defeated by the former Kent Police Authority chair Ann Barnes; Barnes: 114,137, Mackinlay: 60,248, on a turnout of just under 16%.[18]

In 2015, he was elected as Member of Parliament for South Thanet at the general election, where he stood against UKIP leader Nigel Farage and comedian Al Murray among others.[3][19] Conservative Laura Sandys had represented the constituency in the House of Commons.

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Mackinlay was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.[20]

In October 2017 he said "unemployed young people from Glasgow should get on their bikes and work with gorgeous EU women on farms in the south of England after Brexit." Labour MSP James Kelly responded that the comments were "abhorrent and offensive", while Jenny Gilruth MSP said that the comments were "sexist and patronising".[21]

In June 2018 it was reported that Mackinlay had been found to have twice breached parliament's rules due to a potential financial interest, according to a decision by its standards watchdog. The MP had used his position to press for the reopening of an airport from which his company had planned to run low-cost flights. Mackinlay responded that he no longer had plans for running flights from Manston Airport and that there 'was no suggestion he benefited financially from raising the matter in the Commons.'[22]

In the House of Commons he sits on the Committee on Exiting the European Union. He has previously sat on the Work and Pensions Select Committee and European Scrutiny Committee.[23][24]

Following an interim report on the connections between colonialism and properties now in the care of the National Trust, including links with historic slavery, Mackinlay was among the signatories of a letter to The Telegraph from the "Common Sense Group" of Conservative Parliamentarians. The letter accused the National Trust of being "coloured by cultural Marxist dogma, colloquially known as the 'woke agenda'".[25]

Electoral spending criminal investigation following the 2015 General Election[edit]

In 2016–17, the United Kingdom general election, 2015 party spending investigation revealed that the Conservative Party had spent many thousands of pounds centrally on campaign buses to transport activists, and hotel accommodation for the activists, who went to campaign in marginal constituencies, including South Thanet. The expenditure on the buses was declared by the Conservative Party on its national declaration of "Campaign Spending", but in some cases the hotel accommodation was not declared at all as election spending when it should have been. In addition, there is controversy about whether the expenditure, both on the buses and the accommodation, should have been declared on the declarations of expenditure for the constituency made by each candidate's election agent. Kent Police began an investigation into the spending returns of Mackinlay following the Channel 4 report.[26]

In a court case on 1 June 2016, brought by Mackinlay and his election agent Nathan Gray,[27] District Judge Barron granted more time for investigation saying "In this case, the allegations are far-reaching and the consequences of a conviction would be of a local and national significance with the potential for election results being declared void."[28]

On 14 March 2017, it was reported that Mackinlay had been interviewed under caution by officers investigating the allegations.[29] The day after, Channel 4 News published leaked emails, alleging that Theresa May's Political Secretary Stephen Parkinson, and Chris Brannigan, Director of Government Relations at the Cabinet Office, also took a key role in Mackinlay's campaign.[30] On 18 April 2017, Kent police passed Mackinlay's file to the Crown Prosecution Service to be considered for prosecution.[31] The CPS decided on 2 June 2017 that it was in the public interest to authorise charges under the Representation of the People Act 1983 against three people: Mackinlay, his agent Nathan Gray, and a party activist, Marion Little.[32][33] Appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 4 July 2017, the three pleaded not guilty and were released on unconditional bail pending an appearance at Southwark Crown Court on 1 August 2017.[34][35] Later in August 2017, a trial date of 14 May 2018 was set for Mackinlay on charges relating to his 2015 general election expenses, alongside Little and Gray.[36] The trial eventually started on 15 October 2018.[37] Gray was acquitted in December 2018,[38] and Mackinlay was acquitted on 9 January 2019.[39] Little was convicted of two counts relating to falsifying election expenses, she was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence and fined £5,000;[40] the court concluded that Mackinlay and Gray had signed documents falsified by Little "in good faith, not knowing what she had done".[41]

Public service[edit]

Mackinlay was appointed as a Justice of the Peace on the North Kent Bench in 2006.[17] A Freeman of the City of London,[42] he serves as a trustee of three Kent charities: Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Foord Almshouses in Rochester, and Medway Sculpture Trust.[43][44]

Parliamentary voting record[edit]

According to parliamentary monitoring website, TheyWorkForYou, Mackinlay has voted the same way as other Conservative MPs on the vast majority of issues. As of September 2020, his voting record shows the following trends:[45]

  • almost always against laws to promote equality and human rights
  • almost always against UK membership of the EU
  • generally against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK
  • consistently for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • consistently for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax
  • consistently for reducing capital gains tax
  • consistently for reducing the rate of corporation tax
  • consistently for a stricter asylum system
  • consistently for stronger enforcement of immigration rules
  • consistently against measures to prevent climate change

Electoral history[edit]

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes % of votes Result
1992 general election Gillingham Independent 248 0.4 Not elected
1997 general election Gillingham UKIP 590 1.2 Not elected
2001 general election Totnes UKIP 3,010 6.1 Not elected
2005 general election Gillingham UKIP 1,191 2.6 Not elected
2015 general election South Thanet Conservative 18,848 38.13 Elected
2017 general election South Thanet Conservative 25,262 50.8 Elected

Police and Crime Commissioner elections

Date of election Police force Party Votes Percentage of votes Result
2012 PCC elections Kent Conservative 51,671 25.2 Not elected

Local elections

Date of election Ward Party Votes Result
2011 Medway elections River Conservative 1,037 Elected

European Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes Percentage of votes Result
1994 European election Kent West UKIP 9,750 5.2 Not elected
1999 European election London UKIP 61,741 5.4 Not elected
2004 European election South East England UKIP 431,111 19.5 Not elected


  1. ^ Lamiat Sabin (21 November 2014). "Ukip timeline: The gradual rise to Westminster". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b Walden, Celia (15 July 2005). "From UKIP to Tory". The Daily Telegraph. onetime deputy leader of the UK Independence Party, Craig Mackinlay, has left the party after 12 years to join the Tories
  3. ^ a b "Ex-UKIP leader to stand as Tory MP for Thanet South". BBC News. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  4. ^ "About Craig". Craig Mackinlay personal website. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  5. ^ Daniel, Mark (2005). Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP. Oxford: Timewell Press. p. 11. ISBN 1-85-725209-8. he had no interest in politics until he observed at close quarters the effects of Britain's short lived and ill-fated membership of the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism.
  6. ^ Daniel, Mark (2005). Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP. Oxford: Timewell Press. p. 11. ISBN 1-85-725209-8. He heard Sked on a BBC politics programme, telephoned and attended a meeting at the LSE. He too was dragooned into standing for the 1992 election.
  7. ^ "UK General Election results April 1992". Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  8. ^ Daniel, Mark (2005). Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP. Oxford: Timewell Press. p. 47. ISBN 1-85-725209-8. Craig Mackinlay, as the Party Treasurer...
  9. ^ a b "Constituency profile: Gillingham". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Daniel, Mark (2005). Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP. Oxford: Timewell Press. pp. 48–51. ISBN 1-85-725209-8. he resigned the party leadership, naming Craig Mackinlay as his successor... Holmes accepted the leadership and immediately appointed Mackinlay as his deputy
  11. ^ "Michael John HOLMES".
  12. ^ "Results & Constituencies: Totnes". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  13. ^ CONSERVATIVES:Founding member of the UKIP joins Conservative Party[dead link],, 15 July 2005
  14. ^ "Councillor Craig Mackinlay". Medway Council. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  15. ^ Medway Council, info@medway gov uk (6 October 2010). "Council and democracy". Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Medway councillor resigns over conflict of interest". BBC News. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2012. Councillor Craig Mackinlay, who also represents the River Ward, said there were no regulations preventing special constables from serving on the council and said he knew of three who are serving MPs.
  17. ^ a b "Changes to Medway members who police the police". Kent Police Authority. 15 June 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  18. ^ "Results of the election". Kent Police Area Returning Officer. 16 November 2012. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Nigel Farage fails to win South Thanet seat as he loses to Conservatives". The Daily Telegraph. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Tory MP tells Scots 'get on your bike' and work on farms". The Scotsman. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Tory MP breaches Commons rules by calling to reopen airport from which he had wanted to run his own airline". Independent. 16 June 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  23. ^ "Craig Mackinlay". Parliament UK. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Work and Pensions Committee – membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Britain's heroes". Letter to the Daily Telegraph. 9 November 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2021.CS1 maint: others (link)
  26. ^ Sommerlad, Nick (20 April 2016). "Did the Tories 'break election laws' with battle bus spending? Here's everything you need to know". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  27. ^ Stone, Jon (1 June 2016). "Tory MP moves to block police inquiry into alleged election fraud". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  28. ^ Nicola Slawson and agencies (June 2016). "Judge grants extension to police investigation into Tory election fraud". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  29. ^ "MP Craig Mackinlay quizzed over election expenses". BBC News. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  30. ^ 'Election Expenses: New emails show more members of PM’s top team involved' (15 March 2017).
  31. ^ Daniel Clark, 'Another police force submits file to prosecutors in election expenses investigation Archived 27 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine', 27 April 2017.
  32. ^ "CPS statement on election expenses CPS statement on election expenses". Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  33. ^ 'Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay charged over election expenses',
  34. ^ "Tory MP Craig Mackinlay appears in court over election expenses". Sky News. 4 July 2017.
  35. ^ "Tory MP Craig Mackinlay denies election spending charges". The Guardian. 4 July 2017.
  36. ^ Date set for Conservative MP's trial over election expenses The Guardian, 15 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  37. ^ " hearing search". case T20177253.
  38. ^ 'Tory aide cleared of falsifying election expenses claim ', The Guardian (13 December 2018).
  39. ^ "Tory party worker convicted over election expenses breach". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  40. ^ Syal, Rajeev (9 January 2019). "Tory official convicted of falsifying expenses in race against Farage". The Guardian.
  41. ^ 'MP Craig Mackinlay cleared of election expenses fraud', BBC News (9 January 2018).
  42. ^ "Freemen-FEW – The Freemen of England & Wales –".
  43. ^ "Sam Holland Sculpture".
  44. ^ "Notice of Members' Registrable Interests: Craig Mackinlay" (PDF). Kent Police Authority. Retrieved 19 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  45. ^

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Alan Sked
Leader of the UK Independence Party

Succeeded by
Michael Holmes
New office Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party
Succeeded by
Graham Booth
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Laura Sandys
Member of Parliament
for South Thanet