Crispin Blunt

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Crispin Blunt

Official portrait of Crispin Blunt MP crop 2.jpg
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
In office
18 June 2015 – 12 July 2017
Preceded bySir Richard Ottaway
Succeeded byTom Tugendhat
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons and Youth Justice
In office
6 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJeremy Wright
Member of Parliament
for Reigate
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded bySir George Gardiner
Majority18,310 (34.4%)
Personal details
Born
Crispin Jeremy Rupert Blunt

(1960-07-15) 15 July 1960 (age 59)
Germany
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
Victoria Jenkins
(m. 1990; separated 2010)
Children2
RelativesEmily Blunt (niece)
Alma materSandhurst
Durham University
Cranfield School of Management
AwardsQueen's Medal
WebsitePersonal Website
Commons Website
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1979–1990
RankCaptain
Unit13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)

Crispin Jeremy Rupert Blunt (born 15 July 1960) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Reigate since 1997,[1] 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 then MP Sir George Gardiner who had been deselected by the Constituency Conservative Association Executive Council and joined the Referendum Party.

In 2013, Blunt was himself deselected by the Constituency Executive Council, with speculation that this was due to his public announcement that he was gay.[2] However, after a ballot of party members in Reigate, the decision was overturned by a margin of 5–1 and Blunt was reselected as the Conservative candidate for the 2015 general election.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Blunt was born in Germany, one of three sons of English parents Adrienne (née Richardson) and Major-General Peter Blunt (1923–2003).[4] 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[5] and graduated with a 2:1 degree.[6] In 1991, he gained an MBA at the Cranfield School of Management.[7]

Blunt was commissioned as an Army Officer into the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) and served until 1990. During the 1980s, he was stationed in Cyprus, Germany and Britain, serving as a Troop Leader, Regimental Operations Officer and Armoured Reconnaissance Squadron Commander. He resigned his commission as a Captain in 1990, having been awarded the Queen's Medal.[8][9]

Blunt contested his first Parliamentary seat at the 1992 general election, as the Conservative Party candidate in West Bromwich East.[10] From 1991 to 1992, Blunt was a representative of the Forum of Private Business.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] On 1 May 2003 he resigned his position on the front bench, saying that Duncan Smith was a "handicap" to the Conservatives.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] In November 2003, Michael Howard eventually 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.[17]

Blunt is a former joint chair of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.[18] When the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition formed the Government in 2010, Blunt was appointed as the first Minister of State for Prisons 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.[19]

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 Blunt called for the executive council to consider their position.[20] The lack of support from a majority of the executive council was partly attributed to the allegedly homophobic views of some 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".[21]

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".[21]

In May 2014, Blunt was one of seven unsuccessful candidates for the chairmanship of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.[22] On 19 June 2015, it was announced that he had been elected to the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee,[23] a post he held until 12 July 2017 when he was defeated by Conservative candidate Tom Tugendhat.[24]

Prior to the 2016 EU Referendum, Blunt supported Brexit, the successful outcome.

In September 2017, Blunt was elected chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, the cross-party group which represents humanists in Parliament.[25] In 2018, he became an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[26]

Political views[edit]

European Union[edit]

A long-term Eurosceptic, Blunt issued a pamphlet in 1998, when first elected to parliament, calling for an in-out referendum for the United Kingdom.[27] In June 2016, Blunt championed LGBT rights, during the campaigning of the EU referendum, stating that the UK would be the "world's leading proponents of LGBTI rights, in or out of the EU".[28]

Views on Parliamentary Prayers[edit]

Blunt has spoken out about the presence of parliamentary prayers as part of the UK Parliament's formal business. The UK Parliament is the only democratic legislature in the world where religious services form part of parliamentary business. He put forward an Early Day Motion on the issue in 2019, arguing that the practice was discriminatory against non-religious MPs, since those MPs who choose to pray are able to reserve a seat for parliamentary business that day and are more likely to ask questions; there are 650 elected MPs in the UK Parliament, but only seating enough for 427 at any one time.[29] In 2020, he again raised the issue in the House, with new speaker Lindsay Hoyle expressing sympathy with the need for reform.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Blunt married Victoria Jenkins in September 1990 in Kensington and they have a daughter, Claudia, (born March 1992) and son, Frederick, (born August 1994). His niece is the actress Emily Blunt. In August 2010, he announced that he was leaving his wife, in order "to come to terms with his homosexuality". They remain separated but have not divorced.[31][32]

Blunt's voting record in Parliament had previously been broadly unsympathetic towards gay rights,[33] though slightly more favourable when compared with the majority of his Conservative colleagues.[34] He later stated regret for that part of his voting record.[31] On 20 January 2016, he admitted to having used poppers, during a parliamentary debate that discussed banning them along with other legal highs. He stated, "I out myself as a user of poppers. I am astonished to find [the government] is proposing it to be banned and frankly so would many other gay men."[35]

Blunt is a keen cricketer, representing the Parliamentarians team, alongside fellow MPs Peter Bone and Hugh Robertson.[36] He is also a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Crispin Blunt MP". Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Crispin Blunt reselected as Tory MP following deselection attempt after he came out as gay". Pink News. London. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Local Conservatives support Reigate's Crispin Blunt". BBC News. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Major-General Peter Blunt (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. London. 25 August 2003. Archived from the original on 24 May 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Sexual Offences (Pardons Etc) Bill". Hansard. 21 October 2016. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  6. ^ "I'm gay and my marriage is over, admits Tory minister". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 28 August 2010. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  7. ^ The Almanac of British Politics (sixth ed.). Taylor & Francis. 1983. p. 565.
  8. ^ "Profile: Crispin Blunt". BBC. 2 May 2003. Archived from the original on 21 April 2004. Retrieved 30 September 2007.
  9. ^ Kite, Melissa (12 June 2005). "Who's who in this campaign of stealth". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  10. ^ "UK General Election results April 1992 (part 21)". Richard Kimber's Political Science resources. Archived from the original on 8 May 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  11. ^ "Forum of Private Business". Fpb.org. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Profile: Crispin Blunt". BBC News. 2 May 2003. Archived from the original on 21 April 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Crispin Blunt - MP for Reigate". TReigate & Banstead Conservative Association. Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  14. ^ "IDS a 'handicap' warns quitting MP". The Guardian. 1 May 2003. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Tory frontbencher quits post". BBC News. 2 May 2003. Archived from the original on 11 February 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Blunt ends campaign to oust Tory leader". The Daily Telegraph. 22 May 2003. Archived from the original on 20 May 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Tory whip quits to champion Rifkind". The Guardian. 9 June 2005. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  18. ^ "CAABU Chair quoted in Financial Times". website of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. 18 March 2006. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  19. ^ "Register of All-Party Groups". Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  20. ^ "Crispin Blunt wins re-selection". BBC News. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Crispin Blunt defeats attempt to deselect him". The Guardian. London. 18 November 2013. Archived from the original on 19 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Defence Committee Chair election: Rory Stewart MP elected" (PDF). parliament.uk. 14 May 2014. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  24. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 12 July 2017. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Crispin Blunt and Joan Bakewell elected as Chair and Co-Chair of humanists in Parliament". Humanists UK. 13 September 2017. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  26. ^ "National Secular Society Bulletin Spring 2018" (PDF). NSS Bulletin: 8. Spring 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  27. ^ "Crispin Blunt: Only Brexit offers a positive vision for Britain's role in the world". The Standard. 9 May 2016. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Crispin Blunt: Don't be taken for a mug – voting for Brexit won't put LGBT rights at risk". PinkNews. 8 June 2016. Archived from the original on 8 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  29. ^ "WE MUST NOT BAN PARLIAMENTARY PRAYERS". Premier Christianity: 17. March 2019. Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Prayers stop access to Commons seats, protests Parliamentary Humanist Group Chair". Humanists UK. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Crispin Blunt Story: The Evolution of a Gay Conservative in Parliament". The Advocate. 2 September 2011. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  32. ^ Conservative minister Crispin Blunt reveals he is gay Archived 22 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News Online, 27 August 2010.
  33. ^ Crispin Blunt compared to 'Homosexuality - Equal Rights' Archived 19 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, They Work For You.
  34. ^ "Public Whip Policy Comparison". Publicwhip.org.uk. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  35. ^ "Tory MP Crispin Blunt 'outs himself' as popper user". BBC News. 20 January 2016. Archived from the original on 20 January 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  36. ^ "Parliamentarians narrowly beat Lichfield Diocese". Jeremy Lefroy. 11 June 2011. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  37. ^ "Who's who in this campaign of stealth". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.

External links[edit]

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