Crispin Blunt

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Crispin Blunt
MP
Crispin-blunt-high-res-web.jpg
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
Incumbent
Assumed office
18 June 2015
Preceded by Sir Richard Ottaway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons and Youth Justice
In office
6 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Succeeded by Jeremy Wright
Member of Parliament
for Reigate
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Sir George Gardiner
Majority 13,591 (27.2%)
Personal details
Born Crispin Jeremy Rupert Blunt
(1960-07-15) 15 July 1960 (age 55)
Germany
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Victoria Jenkins (m. 1990, separated 2010)
Relations Emily Blunt (niece)
Children Claudia Blunt (born 1992), Frederick "Freddie" Blunt (born 1994)
Alma mater Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Durham University
Website www.blunt4reigate.com
Military service
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1979–1990
Rank Captain
Unit 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)

Crispin Jeremy Rupert Blunt (born 15 July 1960) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Reigate constituency in Surrey, and from May 2010 to September 2012 he was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons and Youth Justice within the Ministry of Justice.

Blunt first entered the House of Commons at the 1997 general election, when he replaced the current MP Sir George Gardiner who had been deselected by the Constituency Conservative Association Executive Council.

In 2013, Blunt himself was de-selected by the Constituency Executive Council, amid rumours that this was due to his public announcement of his homosexuality.[1] However after a ballot of constituency members (Conservative Party members in Reigate), the decision was overturned by a margin of 5-1 and Blunt was re-selected as the Conservative candidate for the next United Kingdom general election.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Wellington College, Berkshire

Blunt was born in Germany, one of three sons of English parents Adrienne (née Richardson) and Major-General Peter Blunt (1923–2003).[3] He was educated at Wellington College, and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he won the Queen's Medal, gaining a Regular Commission, before reading Politics at University College, Durham between 1981 and 1984, where he was elected President of the Durham Union Society in 1983 and graduated with a 2:1 degree.[citation needed] In 1991, he gained an MBA at the Cranfield University School of Management.[citation needed]

Blunt was commissioned as an Army Officer into the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) and served until 1990.[citation needed] During the 1980s, he was stationed in Cyprus, Germany and Britain, serving as a Troop Leader, Regimental Operations Officer and Armoured Reconnaissance Squadron Commander.[citation needed] He resigned his commission as a Captain in 1990.[citation needed]

Blunt contested his first Parliamentary seat at the 1992 general election, as the Conservative Party candidate in West Bromwich East.[4] From 1991 to 1992, Blunt was a representative of the Forum of Private Business.[5] In 1993, he was appointed as Special Adviser to Malcolm Rifkind the then-Secretary of State for Defence, and worked in the same capacity when Rifkind became Foreign Secretary between 1995 and 1997.

Member of Parliament[edit]

At the 1997 general election, Blunt was elected to Parliament as Member for Reigate in Surrey, replacing the long-serving strongly Eurosceptic MP Sir George Gardiner, who had been deselected by the local Conservative Party. Blunt was subsequently appointed to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. In July 1997, he was elected as Secretary of the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Committee and the Conservative Middle East Council. In May 2000, he joined the House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee and in July 2003 he was elected Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council, a position he still occupies.[6]

The new Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith appointed Blunt to the Opposition front bench as Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland in September 2001. In July 2002, he was appointed as deputy to Tim Yeo, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. On 1 May 2003 he resigned his position on the front bench, saying that Duncan Smith was a "handicap" to the Conservatives. He decided to resign at that time in the expectation that the Conservative Party would make over 500 gains in local government elections, but in the belief that these would be achieved in spite of, rather than because of, Iain Duncan Smith's leadership. Blunt timed his resignation so that it became public after the polls closed but before the results were declared. The following day he was unanimously reselected by his local party as their prospective parliamentary candidate, but in May 2003 he failed to persuade 25 of his fellow Conservative MPs to call for a vote of confidence. He accepted that no challenge for the party leadership would be immediately forthcoming and returned to the back benches. In November 2003 the challenge came and Michael Howard replaced Duncan Smith after a vote of no confidence.

Blunt became a party whip under Howard, but on 9 June 2005 he took leave of absence from that role to support the expected leadership bid of Sir Malcolm Rifkind. However, when Rifkind was knocked out of the party leadership contest, Blunt returned to the Whips' office and wrote to all Party members in his constituency asking them to rank the remaining contenders in order of preference so he could best represent his constituents.

Blunt is a former joint chair of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.[7] When the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition formed the Government in 2010, Blunt was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice. His responsibilities include: Prisons and probation, Youth justice, Criminal law and sentencing policy and Criminal justice. He is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.[8]

In November 2013, Blunt was re-selected to stand in the 2015 general election for the Conservative Party having undergone a postal ballot of constituency members. The postal ballot was triggered when the executive council came to a vote with a majority decision not to endorse his candidacy. Having won the postal ballot Mr Blunt called for the executive council to consider their position.[9] The lack of support from a majority of the executive council was partly attributed to the allegedly homophobic views of older Conservative voters in the area. Roger Newstead, the chairman of the Reigate South and Earlswood Branch, wrote a private letter to Dr Ben Mearns, who had resigned from the branch committee after protesting at the decision to force a postal ballot. In the letter, Newstead said: "I do not know what motivated my executive colleagues but I suspect that Crispin has been the author of his own misfortune. There is no doubt in my mind that his very public and totally unnecessary announcement that he was 'gay' was the final straw for some members, particularly those in the north of the borough, with whom there had been a number of previous disagreements on policy matters... A number of lady members were very offended by the manner in which his marriage broke down. Apparently Victoria's version was very different from Crispin's". Later clarifying his views to The Guardian newspaper, Newstead said: "I still say it was unnecessary [for Crispin Blunt to come out]. To me it was an error of judgment. I wouldn't have done anything like that. I would have just said if anyone had asked me: politicians have a unique lifestyle, it doesn't suit everybody and there is a long history of parliamentary marriages breaking down. You don't have to go out and tell people you have got homosexual tendencies – that sort of thing you know. It is a private matter and it shouldn't have been put in the public domain. He put it in the public domain".[10]

In May 2014, Blunt was one of seven unsuccessful candidates for the chairmanship of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.[11] On 19 June 2015, it was announced that he had been elected to the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Blunt married Victoria Jenkins in September 1990 in Kensington and they have a daughter (born March 1992) and son (born August 1994). His niece is Golden Globe-award winning actress Emily Blunt.[13] In August 2010, he announced that he was leaving his wife, in order "to come to terms with his homosexuality".[14][15] Blunt's voting record in Parliament had previously been broadly unsympathetic towards gay rights,[16] though slightly more favourable when compared to the majority of his Conservative colleagues.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Crispin Blunt reselected as Tory MP following deselection attempt after he came out as gay ·". Pinknews.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Local Conservatives support Reigate's Crispin Blunt". BBC News. 18 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Father's obituary". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  4. ^ "UK General Election results April 1992 (part 21)". Richard Kimber's Political Science resources. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "Forum of Private Business". Fpb.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  6. ^ "Profile: Crispin Blunt". BBC. 2 May 2003. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 
  7. ^ "CAABU Chair quoted in Financial Times". website of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. 18 March 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  8. ^ "Register of All-Party Groups". Retrieved 16 June 2010. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Crispin Blunt wins re-selection". BBC News. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Crispin Blunt defeats attempt to deselect him". Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Defence Committee Chair election: Rory Stewart MP elected" (PDF). parliament.uk. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Daily Mail report with photos of Crispin and Emily Blunt". Dailymail.co.uk. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  14. ^ Victoria was devastated.Crispin Blunt decides "to come to terms with his homosexuality" and separates from his wife, ConservativeHome, 27 August 2010.
  15. ^ Conservative minister Crispin Blunt reveals he is gay, BBC News Online, 27 August 2010.
  16. ^ Crispin Blunt compared to 'Homosexuality - Equal Rights', They Work For You.
  17. ^ "Public Whip Policy Comparison". Publicwhip.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Gardiner
Member of Parliament for Reigate
1997–present
Incumbent