Jo Johnson

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Jo Johnson

Official portrait of Joseph Johnson crop 2.jpg
Minister of State for Transport
In office
9 January 2018 – 9 November 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJohn Hayes
Succeeded byJesse Norman
Minister for London
In office
9 January 2018 – 9 November 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byGreg Hands
Succeeded byNick Hurd
Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation[1]
In office
11 May 2015 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byGreg Clark
Succeeded bySam Gyimah
Minister of State for the Cabinet Office
In office
15 July 2014 – 11 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byGreg Clark
Succeeded byVacant
Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit
In office
25 April 2013 – 21 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byNick Pearce
Succeeded byCamilla Cavendish
Member of Parliament
for Orpington
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byJohn Horam
Majority19,453 (38.5%)
Personal details
Joseph Edmund Johnson

(1971-12-23) 23 December 1971 (age 47)
London, England
Political partyConservative
Amelia Gentleman (m. 2005)
ParentsStanley Johnson (father)
Charlotte Johnson Wahl (mother)
RelativesBoris Johnson (brother)
Rachel Johnson (sister)
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
Université libre de Bruxelles
WebsiteOfficial website

Joseph Edmund Johnson (born 23 December 1971) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Orpington since 2010. He is a member of the Conservative Party.[2]

Johnson was appointed Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit in 2013 by Prime Minister David Cameron. He became Minister of State for the Cabinet Office in 2014 and Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation in 2015.[3] Following the January 2018 cabinet reshuffle, Johnson served as Minister of State for Transport and Minister for London; he resigned in November the same year, citing the failure of the Brexit negotiations to achieve what had been promised by the Vote Leave campaign and his wish to campaign for a new EU referendum.[4][5]

Early life[edit]


Johnson is the youngest of four children born to former Conservative MEP Stanley Johnson and artist Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett), the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a prominent barrister and president of the European Commission of Human Rights. He is the brother of Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary; Rachel, a journalist; and Leo, an entrepreneur and filmmaker.[6]


Johnson first attended the European School in Uccle, before attending The Hall School in Hampstead, London, Ashdown House School in East Sussex, and then Eton College. In 1991, he went to Balliol College, Oxford, to read Modern History. He was a Scholar at Balliol, edited Isis, the Oxford University student magazine, and was awarded a First Class degree in both Honour Moderations (June 1992) and Finals (Honour School, June 1994). While at Oxford, he was a member of the Bullingdon Club together with Harry Mount, Nat Rothschild and George Osborne,[7] with whom he remains a close friend.[8][9]

A fluent French speaker, he did postgraduate study in mainland Europe and has degrees from two further European universities, gaining a licence spéciale with distinction in 1995 from the Institut d'études européennes at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he was a Wiener-Anspach Fellow, and an MBA from INSEAD in 2000.[citation needed]

Career in journalism[edit]

After graduating from the Université libre de Bruxelles, in 1995 Johnson joined Deutsche Bank as an investment banker.

In 1997, he switched career paths and joined the Financial Times. After a sabbatical in 1999/2000 during which he gained an MBA from INSEAD, he returned to become Paris correspondent (2001–05), and then as South Asia bureau chief based in New Delhi (2005–08). On return to London he became an associate editor of the Financial Times and head of the Lex Column, one of the most influential positions in British financial journalism.[10][11] Previous 'Heads of Lex' include Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Martin Taylor, former chief executive of Barclays Bank, and Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry. Johnson left the Lex column in April 2010. He received awards for his journalism from a range of organisations, including the Foreign Press Association, the Society of Publishers in Asia and The Indian Express's Excellence in Journalism Awards.

Johnson's books include the co-authored The Man Who Tried To Buy the World (Penguin, 2003),[12] about the French businessman Jean-Marie Messier. This was serialised in The Guardian and published in France as Une faillite française by Albin Michel in 2002. He co-edited, with Dr Rajiv Kumar (Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Reconnecting Britain and India: Ideas for an Enhanced Partnership (Academic Foundation 2011).[13]

He commentated on radio and television,[14][15] and spoke in public on the rise of India, as well as on the UK political economy and financial affairs.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[edit]

He was selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the safe seat of Orpington in the London Borough of Bromley from a shortlist of six contenders.[16] He retained the seat, tripling the Conservative majority of his predecessor John Horam to over 17,000 at the 2010 general election. His majority increased again in the general election of 2015, to 19,979.[17]

Against the national trend, he increased the Conservative share of the vote in the constituency by 5.5% points to 62.9% at the general election in June 2017, although his majority declined to 19,453.[18]

Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit[edit]

On 25 April 2013, he was appointed Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit by David Cameron to help develop the 2015 Conservative manifesto.

As a junior Cabinet Office minister, he headed the Policy Unit in the Prime Minister's Office,[19] and also chaired a newly created Conservative Parliamentary advisory board, known as the Prime Minister's Policy Board, consisting of Conservative MPs.

Johnson's appointment to head up the Downing Street policy unit was viewed as surprising by The Guardian as he was perceived as being more pro-European and left-leaning than most Conservatives.[20]

Minister for Universities and Science[edit]

On 11 May 2015, it was announced that Johnson had been appointed Minister for Universities and Science at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).[21][22] Writing about Johnson's appointment for Times Higher Education, John Morgan said: "Mr Johnson's reputation as a pro-European is likely to please vice-chancellors, many of whom are concerned by the Tories' pledge to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership by 2017. Universities UK pointed out that British higher education institutions benefit from around £1.2 billion in European research funding each year."[23]

In this role, Johnson introduced the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, which the Times Higher Education described as the most significant legislation in 25 years. This overhauled the regulatory framework for English universities, replaced the Higher Education Funding Council for England with a new regulator, the Office for Students, and established mechanisms to hold universities more accountable for the quality of teaching and student outcomes.[24] The Act also created a new single national strategic research body, UK Research and Innovation, bringing together the UK's fragmented research funding bodies.[25]

Minister of Transport[edit]

On 9 January 2018 Johnson left his role as Minister for Universities and accepted a new position as Minister of Transport and Minister for London.[26]

On 9 November 2018, Johnson resigned his position, citing disillusionment with the government's Brexit strategy and called for a fresh vote on Brexit with an option to remain. Johnson argued that Britain was "on the brink of the greatest crisis" since World War Two and claimed that what was on offer was not "anything like what was promised".[27][5]


Jo Johnson called on his Conservative Party MPs to vote down Theresa May's Brexit deal on 11 December 2018, stating that it was 'half baked' and the 'worst of both worlds'.[28] Johnson resigned as a minister because he wants to be free to endorse a People's Vote.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Johnson lives in London with his wife, Amelia Gentleman, a journalist for The Guardian,[30] the daughter of artist and designer David Gentleman. The couple have two children.[22]


  1. ^ Universities and Science (2015–2016).
  2. ^ "Election 2010: Orpington". BBC News. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  3. ^ Amos, Jonathan (11 May 2015). "Jo Johnson is new science minister". BBC News.
  4. ^ Walker, Peter (12 November 2018). "Ministers will not scrap 'reasonable grounds' stop and search rule". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b Merrick, Rob (10 November 2018). "Jo Johnson resigns: Minister quits in protest and demands new Brexit referendum". The Independent. Front page. Retrieved 11 November 2018. Image via Twitter.
  6. ^ "Family of influence behind Boris Johnson". The Daily Telegraph. 3 May 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  7. ^ "George's bully boys: Oozing entitlement, a young Osborne poses with Oxford's infamous Bullingdon Club in a newly discovered photo. But who were they?". Daily Mail. London.
  8. ^ Elwes, Jay. "Good news for the chancellor". Prospect Magazine.
  9. ^ "Jo Johnson is his own man who is very different to Boris". ITV News. 25 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Johnson returns to roots as FT Lex column editor – Press Gazette".
  11. ^ "Log In or Sign Up to View".
  12. ^ Daniel Gross "J'Accuse!", Slate, 6 August 2003
  13. ^ "Johnson's Passage to India". Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  14. ^ "Johnson reviewed the Sunday papers on Sky".
  15. ^ Johnson appeared on Charlie Rose in a discussion on India
  16. ^ "Jo Johnson selected for Orpington after six ballots including a tie". ConservativeHome.
  17. ^ "VOTE 2010: Jo Johnson wins Orpington". News Shopper. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  18. ^ "Orpington". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Jo Johnson to head Downing Street Policy Unit - GOV.UK".
  20. ^ Watt, Nicholas (25 April 2013). "Jo Johnson: a left-field choice to be David Cameron's policy chief". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  21. ^ "Election 2015: Who's Who in David Cameron's new cabinet". BBC News. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Minister of State for Universities, Science: Jo Johnson". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  23. ^ Morgan, John (11 May 2015). "Jo Johnson is new minister covering higher education". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Higher Education and Research Bill passed by UK parliament". 27 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Science Minister announces new Chief Finance Officer of UK Research and Innovation - UK Research and Innovation". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  26. ^ Amesbury, Mike (12 January 2018). "Jo Johnson's new jobs show northern transport again taking backseat". the Guardian.
  27. ^ "Minister Jo Johnson quits over Brexit". BBC News. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Jo Johnson tells Tories to vote down Theresa May's 'worst of all worlds' Brexit". London Evening Standard. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  29. ^ Senior Tories urge free vote on second referendum The Observer
  30. ^ "Profile: Amelia Gentleman". The Guardian.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Horam
Member of Parliament
for Orpington

Political offices
Preceded by
John Hayes
Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Michael Ellis
Preceded by
Greg Hands
Minister for London
Succeeded by
Nick Hurd