James Wharton

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James Wharton
James Wharton 2016.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
Assumed office
17 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Nick Hurd
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse
In office
11 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Penny Mordaunt (Communities and Local Government)
Office created (Northern Powerhouse)
Succeeded by Andrew Percy
Member of Parliament
for Stockton South
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Dari Taylor
Majority 5,046 (9.7%)
Personal details
Born James Stephen Wharton
(1984-02-16) 16 February 1984 (age 32)
Wolviston, County Durham, England
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Durham University
University of Law
Website Official website

James Stephen Wharton (born 16 February 1984) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for his home constituency of Stockton South since the 2010 general election, having defeated the sitting Labour MP Dari Taylor by 332 votes.

Early life[edit]

James Wharton grew up in Wolviston, County Durham.[1] He went to the independent Yarm School and St Peter's School, York followed by Durham University where he studied Law[2] and was a member of the Officers' Training Corps (OTC) (part of the Northumbrian UOTC).[3] Following his graduation from Durham he studied the Legal Practice Course at The College of Law in York and qualified as a solicitor with BHP Law, a firm in the Northeast.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, with the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stockton South, James Wharton, and two students from Conyers School in Yarm, North Yorkshire.
Education Secretary Michael Gove with James Wharton MP and students at Conyers School in Yarm.

From his election in May 2010 to November 2012, Wharton sat on the Public Accounts Committee.

After being elected MP for Stockton South, Wharton made stated his opposition to development occurring in Preston Park. The plans backed by Wharton's predecessor Dari Taylor, included relocating Egglescliffe School to the park. Wharton accused Stockton Borough Council of refusing to listen to the "democratic will of local people."[4]

After a developer withdrew its £750,000 investment to regenerate Thornaby Town Hall, Wharton called for the building to be given back to the Town Council. Originally the building did belong to the Town Council; however due to local government reorganisations, it was taken on by Stockton Borough Council. In 2012 the Town Council purchased the building from the borough council with the hope of enabling the building and the surrounding area to be restored.[5]

Wharton was one of 53 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government in favour of an amendment calling for a cut in the EU budget from 2014.[6] Wharton claimed that his decision was "right for the British people and right for the nation's interests."[7]\

Ministerial Career[edit]

Wharton was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse), the first minister dedicated to the government proposal. After Theresa May's appointment as Prime Minister in July 2016, Wharton was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development.

EU Referendum Bill[edit]

On 16 May 2013, Wharton came top of a ballot of backbench MPs which entitled him to introduce a Private Member's Bill during the 2013–14 parliamentary session. He chose to address the issue of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union by attempting to enshrine the Conservative Party Position into law by introducing the European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14. He faced criticism from opposition MPs for taking on the EU Referendum Bill as his Private Members Bill and it was suggested by them that the move may have been more advantageous to his political career than of direct benefit to his constituents.[8] Wharton himself had previously suggested that too much time was spent debating the issue of Europe, but has since argued that his Private Member's Bill was designed to put the issue to rest.[9]

After the bill failed to pass the House of Lords, Wharton blamed Labour and Liberal Democrat obstructionism; however the Liberal Democrats argued that the Conservatives themselves had not assigned the bill enough time whilst Labour responded by stating that the bill was in the Conservative Parties interest rather than the national one.[10] Following the failure of his private members bill, Wharton received a huge upswing in donations.[11] Wharton backed the Brexit campaign during the 2016 EU Referendum.

Wharton was given responsibility for the "Northern Powerhouse" in the 2015 reshuffle.[12] Shortly after the referendum, he insisted that Brexit would benefit the Northern Powerhouse[13]

Schools funding[edit]

Wharton has publicly campaigned for investment in education in his constituency. He brought the Education Secretary to visit on a number of occasions and funding was agreed to refurbish Ian Ramsey and Grangefield schools in Stockton.[14] The Plans for Ian Ramsey School were approved in May 2013.[15]

Local Growth Fund Grant to Tees Valley[edit]

Wharton welcomed an announcement that over £90m was to be invested in the Tees Valley area by the government in July 2014 [16] creating 1,000 jobs and specifically securing funding for road improvements in Ingleby Barwick in his constituency following campaigning by Wharton and local Councillors from Ingleby Barwick Independent Society (IBIS).[17]

Tees Valley City Deal[edit]

Plans for a City Deal for the Tees Valley were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in a visit with Wharton to (Eaglescliffe) in December 2013.[18] Wharton was the first to call for the City Deal and supported a bid.[19] The City Deal itself was agreed and signed on 16 June 2014 [20] at a ceremony which Wharton attended.

Visits to Sri Lanka[edit]

Wharton made four visits to Sri Lanka across a period of nine months, including as a delegate of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the charity International Alert and as a guest of the Sri Lankan Government. On one visit, Wharton met the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary. Although Wharton's constituency, Stockton South, features no significant Sri Lankan community, nearby Darlington company Cleveland Bridge has significant interests there and secured a £35m order to rebuild bridges across Sri Lanka, securing 100 jobs.[21] Wharton had suggested that his activities in Sri Lanka would encourage bilateral business agreements.


Trocabart grant controversy[edit]

In 2010, Wharton assisted Conservative Town Councillor Jason Hadlow's company Trocabart secure £30,000 in aid from the former Regional Development Agency, One North East. The business failed and had now been closed. He claimed that his only motivation was to promote the growth of jobs in the Teesside area. There has been no evidence of any financial connection between Wharton and the firm.[22]

Threat of Libel Action[edit]

In July 2011, Wharton was embroiled into a row over plans he was backing a plan to convert a local children's play park into a Boules Pitch. Local resident Carole Jones campaigned to save the park and produced a satirical cartoon which allegedly caricatured Wharton as evil genius "W" planning to concrete over Snaith's Field. The cartoons which were displayed as posters in the local park were reportedly ripped down by Wharton who then sent an email to Jones: "I will … be taking advice on the libellous cartoons you have been distributing and you can expect to hear from my solicitors in due course. You have damaged my reputation by making untrue inferences and it is time you were taken up on your lies".[23]

Ministerial visit controversy[edit]

In July 2014, Wharton was accused of attending a neighbouring constituency to take part in a photo call at the new Hitachi factory in Phil Wilson's Sedgefield constituency. Parliamentary protocol insists that MPs inform a colleague if they intend to visit their seat. Wharton explained that his only role was to act as a chauffeur and "drop off" Brandon Lewis, but that when he spent some time at the site he contacted Wilson to let him know he had attended. Photos later emerged of him taking part in the visit and photo calls.[24]

Data protection and Alleged Profiling[edit]

In August 2014, Wharton wrote to selected residents in his constituency about the conflict in Gaza and Israel. Allegations were made that the "letter [had] only been sent to those residents who may reasonably be expected to be Muslims, based only on their names", which would potentially breach the data protection act.[25] Wharton denied the allegations.


  1. ^ "James Wharton starts new life by sleeping on a pal's sofa". Gazette Live. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Durham Law School – Durham University". Dur.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Northumbrian – British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Evening Gazette – Stockton South's new MP pledges to save Preston Park". Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Evening Gazette – Give Thornaby Town Hall to people says MP". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Owen, Paul (1 November 2012). "The Guardian – Full list of Tory EU budget rebels". London. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  7. ^ James Wharton MP: The voters will punish MPs who oppose my EU referendum bill. Telegraph.
  8. ^ South MP defends decision to seek EU Referendum. Thenorthernecho.co.uk (17 May 2013).
  9. ^ EU referendum bill to be put forward by Tory MP | Politics. theguardian.com.
  10. ^ "Cameron says Tories will bring back failed EU bill - BBC News". Bbc.com. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  11. ^ Pearson, Adrian (2014-01-26). "Tory donors flooding the North with cash to kick-start election battle". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  12. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-32704987
  13. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/brexit-strengthen-northern-powerhouse-according-11556479
  14. ^ "Plans for multi-million pound secondary school rebuild to be considered (From The Northern Echo)". Thenorthernecho.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  15. ^ Blackburn, Mike (2013-05-31). "New Ian Ramsey CofE School plan in Stockton is given the go-ahead". Gazette Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  16. ^ Blackburn, Mike (2014-07-07). "Government is investing millions to make Teesside a 'powerhouse' again". Gazette Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  17. ^ Blackburn, Mike (2014-07-07). "Ingleby Barwick residents welcome £2.3m Government grant to end road misery". Gazette Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  18. ^ Blackburn, Mike. "David Cameron visits Tetley Eaglescliffe to announce City Deal". Gazette Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  19. ^ 19 February 2013 at 7:15am (2013-02-19). "MP welcomes Tees Valley's city deal progress | Tyne Tees - ITV News". Itv.com. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  20. ^ Hughes, Mike. "Teesside praised by Middlesbrough-born Minister as Government City Deal is signed". Gazette Live. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  21. ^ "Cleveland Bridge lands £35m order from Sri Lanka (From The Northern Echo)". Thenorthernecho.co.uk. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  22. ^ "Stockton Tory MP's bid to get cash for his pal". 
  23. ^ Chris, Webber (25 July 2011). "Boules row MP threatens to sue activist". The Northern Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Glover, Andrew (Jul 9, 2014). "Chauffeur or gatecrasher? Westminster row as Phil Wilson accuses James Wharton of hijacking jobs photocall for THIS pic". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved Jul 9, 2014. 
  25. ^ Mike, Blackburn (Aug 20, 2014). "MP denies picking out people with 'Muslim' names for leaflet drop about Gaza conflict". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved Aug 20, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dari Taylor
Member of Parliament
for Stockton South