James Cleverly

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James Cleverly

Official portrait of James Cleverly crop 2.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Assumed office
4 April 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byChris Heaton-Harris
Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party
In office
8 January 2018 – 4 April 2019
LeaderTheresa May
Preceded byAmanda Sater
Succeeded byHelen Whately
Member of Parliament
for Braintree
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded byBrooks Newmark
Majority18,422 (35.2%)
Leader of the Conservative Party
in the London Assembly
In office
Preceded byRoger Evans
Succeeded byAndrew Boff
Member of the London Assembly
for Bexley and Bromley
In office
4 May 2008[1] – 5 May 2016[1]
Preceded byBob Neill
Succeeded byGareth Bacon
Personal details
James Spencer Cleverly

(1969-09-04) 4 September 1969 (age 49)
Lewisham, London, England
Political partyConservative
Susannah Sparks
(m. 2000)
Children2 sons
Alma materThames Valley University
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1989–present
RankLieutenant Colonel
Service number538929
UnitRoyal Artillery

James Spencer Cleverly TD, VR, MP (born 4 September 1969) is a British Conservative politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Braintree[2] since 2015, and served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2018 to 2019.[3]

Cleverly served as Member of the London Assembly for Bexley and Bromley from 2008 to 2016.[1] He was first elected at the 2015 general election and was re-elected at the 2017 snap election.

He advocated a Brexit vote in the 2016 EU membership referendum, and was appointed Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 4 April 2019, following the resignation of Chris Heaton-Harris.

Early life and education[edit]

Cleverly was born in Lewisham Hospital, southeast London, to a British father and a mother from Sierra Leone. He was privately educated at Riverston School and Colfe's School, both in Lee, London. After a short stint in the British Army (which was cut short due to injury),[4] he gained a bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from Thames Valley University.[5]

Before being elected he worked in the magazine and web publishing industry.

Military service[edit]

On 6 October 1991, Cleverly was commissioned into the Royal Artillery, Territorial Army, as a second lieutenant (on probation).[6] In January 1993, his commission was confirmed and he was made a substantive second lieutenant.[7] He was promoted to lieutenant on 6 October 1993,[8] to captain on 26 May 1998,[9] and to major on 1 November 2003.[10] Until 2005, he was Battery Commander of 266 (Para) Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers).[11] Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1 March 2015,[12] Cleverly is currently based at Central Volunteers HQ Royal Artillery, in Woolwich, London, and is a Staff Officer in the 1st (UK) Armoured Division.[4][13]

Political career[edit]

Unsuccessful candidacy[edit]

Cleverly had previously stood unsuccessfully in a number of elections for the London Borough of Lewisham; including the borough council elections of 2002, a borough council by-election in 2003, for the Lewisham East seat for the UK Parliament in the 2005 general election and as the Conservative candidate for the directly elected mayor of Lewisham in 2006.

London Assembly[edit]

In March 2007, Cleverly was selected as the candidate for the Bexley and Bromley constituency of the London Assembly in a very tightly fought selection contest. The London Assembly election was held on 1 May with the count and declaration on the 2 May, where he received 105,162 votes (52.6% of the vote) and a majority of 75,237.[citation needed]

In January 2009, Cleverly was appointed as the Mayor of London's Youth Ambassador, a newly created role which was seen as being a replacement post for the Deputy Mayor for Young People, a post left vacant after the resignation of Ray Lewis. The creation of the role caused some controversy as it was not filled by a mayoral appointment but by a member of the assembly whose formal role is to scrutinise the Mayor. The decision was defended because of the precedent set by the appointment of Kit Malthouse as Deputy Mayor for Policing.[14]

In February 2010, Cleverly was appointed as the Chairman of the London Waste and Recycling Board, replacing Boris Johnson who had stood down.[15] After the defeat of Brian Coleman at the 2012 London elections he was appointed to the Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).[16]

In November 2010, Cleverly was re-selected to be the Conservative candidate for Bexley and Bromley in the 2012 GLA elections, going on to win the seat with 88,482 votes (once again 52.6% of the votes) and a majority of 47,768.[17] Following his election to parliament in 2015, he did not defend his seat at the 2016 assembly election.[1]

House of Commons[edit]

2015 and 2017 general elections[edit]

In January 2015, Cleverly was selected to be the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Braintree in the 7 May general election, after the sitting Conservative MP, Brooks Newmark. stood down following controversy over sexting and the sending of obscene images online.[18] His selection came after the initial selection process was quietly suspended by CCHQ, after the local party chose someone not on the approved candidates list and was told to ‘think again’.[19] He was subsequently elected as the constituency's MP.[20] He advocated a Brexit vote in the 2016 EU membership referendum.[21]

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, Cleverly 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.[22]

Cleverley was re-elected, with an increased majority (62.8% of the votes cast), as Braintree's MP on 8 June 2017 at the general election.[23]


In August 2010, Cleverly posted a tweet in which he called Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes "a dick". The full tweet stated: "We may be coalition partners but it doesn't stop me thinking Simon Hughes is a dick."[24] He later apologised.[25]

In October 2013, Cleverly advocated scrapping the minimum wage at a fringe event within the Conservative Party Conference. In a newspaper article that followed the controversial comments, Labour politician Sadiq Khan was quoted as saying: "Millions of hard-working people are suffering under the Tory cost of living crisis and their answer is to scrap the minimum wage, a policy that helps thousands of low-paid people in London. No wonder people think they’re out of touch."[26]

In November 2015, Cleverly was criticised for pushing through the closure of 10 fire stations in London after the death of an elderly man in Camden following delays in the arrival of fire crews. In response, Cleverly said: "It is impossible for them to say that with certainty. I think it would be much wiser for the FBU to wait for the details of that fire investigation to come out before they start making these opportunistic allegations."[27]

In March 2016, Cleverly was asked to step down as patron of Advocacy for All, a charity supporting disadvantaged people in South East England. The charity felt he was no longer a suitable person for the role, given that he had voted to cut ESA (the benefit paid to disabled people who are unable to work).[28]

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live he said that he had previously watched online porn, had taken illegal drugs as a student and is an atheist.[21]

In October 2018, Cleverly defended Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey over potentially Islamophobic and Hinduphobic comments he had made in a pamphlet and suggested that Bailey was implying that black boys were drifting into crime as a result of learning more about faiths other than "their own Christian culture".[29]

Personal life[edit]

Cleverly married Susannah Janet Temple Sparks in 2000; the couple have two sons, Freddy and Rupert.[4][5]

Honours and decorations[edit]

Cleverly was awarded the Efficiency Decoration (TD) for 12 years' commissioned service in the Territorial Army in January 2012,[30][31] as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.[32]

Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.pngQEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.pngEfficiency Decoration (Territorial & Volunteer Reserve).png

Ribbon Description Notes
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • UK version of this medal
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • UK version of this medal
Efficiency Decoration (Territorial & Volunteer Reserve).png Efficiency Decoration (TD)


  1. ^ a b c d "Former members of the London Assembly". Greater London Authority. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Braintree parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Party Structure and Organisation". Conservatives.com. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "About James Cleverly". Braintree Conservatives. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Cleverly, James Spencer, (born 4 Sept. 1969), MP (C) Braintree, since 2015". Who's Who. 2008. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.246959.
  6. ^ "No. 52740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 December 1991. p. 18966.
  7. ^ "No. 53171". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 1993. p. 436.
  8. ^ "No. 53479". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 November 1993. p. 17888.
  9. ^ "No. 55228". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 August 1998. p. 8984.
  10. ^ "No. 57252". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 April 2004. p. 4383.
  11. ^ "James Cleverly". London.GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 25 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ "No. 62207". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 February 2018. p. 3151.
  13. ^ "Central Volunteer HQ RA (CVHQ RA)". ARMY.MOD.UK. British Army. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  14. ^ "London's youth ambassador James Cleverly". The Guardian. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  15. ^ "James Cleverly". London Waste and Recycling Board. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  16. ^ "James Cleverly". London Fire Brigade. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Conservative James Cleverly retains Bexley & Bromley seat". Old Bexley & Sidcup Conservatives. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Cleverly selected as Conservative parliamentary candidate for Braintree". Braintree and Witham Times. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  19. ^ "David Cameron's secret A-list". The Spectator. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Election as MP". eadt.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  21. ^ a b Perraudin, Frances (1 November 2015). "Tory MP reveals he smoked marijuana and watched online porn". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Braintree Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Tory in 'abusive' Twitter insult to MP Simon Hughes". BBC News. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Boris aide apologises for abusing Lib-Dem Simon Hughes". London Evening Standard. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  26. ^ "Fury at 'scrap minimum wage' call". London Evening Standard. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  27. ^ "The men who pushed through cuts to fire brigade close ranks". Camden New Journal. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  28. ^ Winterbottom, Summer (15 March 2016). "Second Tory MP told to resign as charity patron after voting for £30 ESA cuts - EvolvePolitics.com". Evolve Politics. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  29. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (4 October 2018). "Tory deputy chairman admits concerns about Shaun Bailey remarks". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  30. ^ "No. 60031". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 January 2012. p. 782.
  31. ^ "James Cleverly AM". Old Bexley & Sidcup Conservatives. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  32. ^ "James Cleverly Uniform City Hall". Retrieved 4 May 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Neill
Member of the London Assembly
for Bexley and Bromley

Succeeded by
Gareth Bacon
Civic offices
Preceded by
Brian Coleman
Chair of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority
Succeeded by
Fiona Twycross
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brooks Newmark
Member of Parliament
for Braintree