Ian Austin

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Ian Austin

Ian Austin Official Portrait.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for
Communities and Local Government
In office
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byIain Wright
Succeeded byBob Neill
Minister for the West Midlands
In office
6 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byLiam Byrne
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Assistant Government Whip
In office
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Chief WhipNick Brown
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
In office
27 June 2007 – 4 October 2008
Serving with Angela Smith
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byKeith Hill
Succeeded byJon Trickett
Member of Parliament
for Dudley North
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byRoss Cranston
Majority22 (0.06%)
Personal details
Ian Christopher Austin

(1965-03-06) 6 March 1965 (age 54)
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Political partyIndependent (2019–)
Other political
Labour (1983–2019)
Alma materUniversity of Essex

Ian Christopher Austin (born 6 March 1965) is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dudley North since the 2005 general election. Formerly a member of the Labour Party, he resigned from the party on 22 February 2019 to sit as an independent. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2009 to 2010.

Early life[edit]

Austin was born on 6 March 1965[1] and was adopted as a baby by Dudley school teachers Fred and Margaret Austin. His adoptive father, Fred (a Czech Jew who was adopted by an English family on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia), was head of the Dudley School from its formation in 1975 until his retirement in 1985.[2] Fred Austin, born Fredi Stiller, was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours List for 2006 in recognition of his service to the communities of Dudley.[3] Fred Austin died in March 2019 at the age of 90, four months after the death of his wife Margaret.[4] Ian Austin's adoptive siblings are David Austin, the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, Helen, who is a nutritionist and former teacher, and Rebecca, who is one of Britain's leading midwives.[4]

Having failed the eleven-plus to attend King Edward's School, Birmingham,[5] he was educated at the Dudley School from 1977 to 1983. He studied government and politics at the University of Essex.[1]

Austin was keen to obtain a National Union of Journalists card and took a job with Black Country Publishing in Netherton where his personal interest in sport, especially cycling (he is now chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group)[6] and football, led him to work as a journalist on Midland Sport Magazine.

Austin was elected as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in 1991, and served until 1995. He then moved to become press officer for the West Midlands Labour Party until 1998, when he spent a year as deputy director of communications for the Scottish Labour Party.

He was appointed a political advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (later Prime Minister), Gordon Brown, in 1999. He held the position until his election in 2005, and was known as one of Brown's closest lieutenants.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Austin was selected as the Labour candidate for Dudley North following the retirement of Ross Cranston, and was elected at the 2005 general election with a majority of 5,432.


In June 2007, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown, with a special provision to attend cabinet meetings.[7] He was moved to a new position in the 2008 reshuffle, becoming an Assistant Whip for the Government. In the June 2009 reshuffle, he became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Minister for the West Midlands. Under Ed Miliband, Austin served as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport between 2010 and 2011 and Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions between 2011 and 2013.[8]

In the 2015 Parliament, Austin joined the Education Select Committee, and was appointed as chair of the Labour Party's education committee.[9]


In 2013, Austin had proposed that the government should share costs with parents who in areas of poor educational attainment wished to send their children to independent schools.[10]

In October 2014, and again in December 2016, he called for greater action to limit immigration, and proposed a range of measures to achieve this, including tighter border controls, fingerprinting immigrants, deporting foreign criminals, reducing benefits entitlement, charging foreigners for NHS care, putting immigrants at the bottom of the housing list and measures to discourage the employment of immigrants rather than British citizens.[11][12]

In March 2018, Austin described Russia as "a fascist, homophobic dictatorship" and suggested the England team boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[13]

He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel[14]. Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council has called him a friend and ally.[15]

Labour party[edit]

Austin nominated Ed Balls, who came third, for the Labour leadership election of 2010.


Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling during Prime Minister's Questions on 18 October 2006, and he was subsequently described by David Cameron as one of Gordon Brown's "boot boys".[16] The following week he was rebuked again by the Speaker for comments made towards the Conservative benches.[17]

On 1 June 2012, he apologised after claiming falsely that a Palestinian human rights group, Friends of Al-Aqsa, had denied the Holocaust happened in an article he wrote on the Labour Uncut website in 2011. He accepted that the material of which he complained had been produced by an unconnected individual.[18]

In June 2014, Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo told Austin to apologise after he referred to Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood as an "idiot".[19]

In July 2016, Austin was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for heckling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by shouting "sit down and shut up" and "you're a disgrace", as Corbyn criticised the 2003 invasion of Iraq in his response to the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.[20][21]

In July 2018, Austin was put under investigation by the Labour Party for allegedly using abusive language towards the Party Chairman, Ian Lavery.[22] General Secretary Jennie Formby dropped the inquiry in November, although Austin did receive a reprimand from the Chief Whip.[23][24]


In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Austin had tried to split a claim for stamp duty on buying his second home in London into two payments and tried to claim the cost back over two financial years. This allowed him to claim the majority of the money (£21,559, just £75 short of the maximum) under his second-home allowance in the 2005/06 financial year. He then claimed for the remaining £1,344 stamp duty cost in 2006–2007, together with his legal fees. In all, he went on to claim £22,076 (£34 short of the maximum) in the next financial year.[25]

It also reported that Austin "flipped" his second-home designation weeks before buying a £270,000 London flat, and that he had claimed £467 for a stereo system for his constituency home, shortly before he changed his second-home designation to London. He then spent a further £2,800 furnishing the new London flat.[25]

Austin denied any wrongdoing, and defended his actions in an interview with local newspaper Dudley News.[26]


In 2013, Austin became one of the first Labour MPs to call for an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.[27] He supported the UK remaining in the EU in the 2016 membership referendum, but is opposed to a second referendum.[28] On 15 January 2019, Austin was one of only three Labour MPs to vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal in the Meaningful vote (along with Kevin Barron and John Mann).[29][30] In the same series of votes, Austin was one of 14 Labour MPs who voted against his colleague Yvette Cooper's amendment, which was designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit by extending the article 50 negotiating period.[31]

As an independent MP[edit]

On 22 February 2019, Austin resigned from the Labour Party and became an independent MP—although he did not join The Independent Group which had been formed the same week by former Labour and Conservative MPs, owing to his disagreement with its members' desire for another referendum on Brexit.[32]

On 19 March, MPs passed a motion put forward by Labour to remove Austin, as well as Independent Group MP Mike Gapes, from the seats on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee they held as part of the Labour Party's allocation. Austin said that Jeremy Corbyn wanted "to boot me off this committee because I stood up against racism", while Labour said that it was right that the party filled its allocation of seats on the committees.[33]

In July 2019, he was appointed Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Israel.[34]

In September 2019, Austin used his speech in the emergency debate proposed by Jeremy Corbyn to criticise him. Labour MPs on the benches around him told him to "go sit somewhere else" in anger at his comments.[35][36]


  1. ^ a b "Ian Austin - Biography". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  2. ^ "My escape from the clutches of Nazis – Stourbridge pupils hear incredible story". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  3. ^ "New Year Honours awards for all". BBC News. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b Madeley, Pete. "Fred Austin obituary: Holocaust survivor, headteacher and MP's father". www.expressandstar.com.
  5. ^ Claughton, John (28 November 2013). "Getting rid of the grammar schools destroyed opportunities for so many". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Register Of All-Party Groups: Cycling". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  7. ^ Assinder, Nick (28 June 2007). "Who's who: Brown's inner circle". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Ian Austin". Parliament UK. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  9. ^ Wintour, Patrick (5 November 2015). "Labour moderates flex muscles by capturing key backbench offices". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  10. ^ Walker, Jonathan (8 November 2013). "Labour MP calls for state sponsorship of public school places". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Dudley MP Ian Austin: How we can curb rise in immigration". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  12. ^ Walker, Jonathan (6 December 2016). "Home Secretary told to act now to cut immigration". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Ian Austin: England should consider boycotting the World Cup in Russia". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  14. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 16 July 2019.
  15. ^ Radice, Orlando (22 February 2019). "MP Ian Austin leaves Labour, citing 'culture of extremism and antisemitism'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Q1. [94489]". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 18 October 2006. col. 867–868. Archived from the original on 31 October 2006.
  17. ^ Assinder, Nick (24 October 2007). "Fireworks in the Commons". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Dudley North MP Ian Austin sorry for Holocaust claim". BBC News. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  19. ^ "Deputy Speaker tells Labour MP: Stand up. Say sorry". BBC News. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  20. ^ "A Labour MP told Jeremy Corbyn to 'sit down and shut up' while he was criticising the Iraq War". The Independent. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  21. ^ Jonathan Walker (7 July 2016). "Labour MP Ian Austin defends himself after heckling Jeremy Corbyn over Iraq War". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  22. ^ Maguire, Kevin (25 July 2018). "Commons Confidential: On Raab's first trip to Brussels, even the Eurostar wasn't without mishap". New Statesman. London. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Ian Austin: No action against Labour MP over anti-Semitism policy row". BBC News. London. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Labour drops investigation into MP Ian Austin". LabourList. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  25. ^ a b Watt, Holly (19 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Ian Austin tried to split the stamp duty on sunsets in Waterloo". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Ian Austin MP speaks out over his expenses claims". Dudley News. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  27. ^ "Miliband must not lose control of Labour's EU referendum policy". www.newstatesman.com.
  28. ^ "Who is Ian Austin?". 22 February 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  29. ^ Elgot, Jessica (30 November 2018). "Labour should back May's Brexit deal, says MP Ian Austin". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  30. ^ Austin, Ian (17 January 2019). "Why I voted for the Government's Brexit deal". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  31. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (29 January 2019). "Labour MPs rebel to vote down Cooper's no-deal amendment". The Guardian.
  32. ^ "Ian Austin quits Labour blaming Jeremy Corbyn's leadership". BBC News. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Ex-Labour MPs 'booted' off Foreign Affairs Committee". BBC News Online. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Ex-Labour MP Ian Austin appointed trade envoy to Israel by PM". Jewish News. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Monday 9th September 2019". Houses of Parliament. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Ian Austin and Liz McInnes clash in chamber". LabourList. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ross Cranston
Member of Parliament for Dudley North