John Penrose

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John Penrose

Official portrait of John Penrose MP crop 2.jpg
Penrose in 2020
United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion
Assumed office
11 December 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded byEric Pickles
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
16 November 2018 – 25 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byShailesh Vara
Succeeded byNick Hurd
Minister for Constitutional Reform
In office
11 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded bySam Gyimah
Succeeded byChris Skidmore
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
8 February 2014 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byKaren Bradley
Succeeded byGuy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Tourism and Heritage
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byMargaret Hodge
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of Parliament
for Weston-super-Mare
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byBrian Cotter
Majority17,128 (30.8%)
Personal details
Born (1964-06-22) 22 June 1964 (age 56)
Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Political partyConservative
(m. 1995)
Alma materDowning College, Cambridge
Columbia Business School

John David Penrose (born 22 June 1964) is a British politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Weston-super-Mare since 2005. A member of the Conservative Party, he has also served as the United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion at the Cabinet Office[1] since 2017. Penrose is married to Baroness Harding, Chair of NHS Improvement and the former head of NHS Test and Trace.

Penrose previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport from 2010 to 2012 and Lord Commissioner of the Treasury from 2014 to 2016.[2] He was Minister of State for Northern Ireland from 2018 to 2019.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Penrose was born in Sudbury, Suffolk on 22 June 1964. He was privately educated at Ipswich School and studied at Downing College, Cambridge, receiving a BA in Law in 1986. He received an MBA from Columbia University in 1991.

He was a Bank Trading Floor Risk Manager at J. P. Morgan from 1986 to 1990, then a management consultant at McKinsey & Company from 1992 to 1994. He was Commercial Director of the Academic Books Division at Thomson Publishing in Andover from 1995 to 1996, then Managing Director of Schools Book Publishing at Longman (Pearson plc), publishing school textbooks for the UK and parts of Africa. He was chairman of Logotron Ltd in Cambridge (also owned by Pearson). In 1998, he was in charge of research at the Bow Group - a UK-based independent think tank, promoting conservative opinion internationally.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Penrose unsuccessfully contested the seat of Ealing Southall in the 1997 general election, before unsuccessfully contesting the seat of Weston-super-Mare in 2001. He was elected in the same seat in the 2005 general election, defeating the Liberal Democrat Brian Cotter and he retained his seat in the 2010 general election, 2015 general election and 2017 general election. He served on the Work and Pensions Committee from July 2005 to January 2009, and in 2006 was appointed joint chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Further Education and Lifelong Learning. In 2006 he was also appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Letwin MP and in 2009 was promoted to Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

After his re-election in 2010 and the formation of the coalition government, Penrose served as the Minister for Tourism and Heritage from 2010 to 2012, covering the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During his tenure, he wrote and implemented the Government's Tourism Strategy; began a process to turn English Heritage's properties, such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel and many others, into a second National Trust; removed licences on live entertainment; sold the Tote bookmaker; protected the Lloyd's of London building with a 'Grade 1' listing amongst other activity.[citation needed]

Penrose returned to the backbenches in 2012. He wrote a paper (We Deserve Better) on how to give people a better deal on their utilities. Less than a year later the Prime Minister invited Penrose back to a Government role with a new position as Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), before he was promoted in February 2014 as one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury (Whip). In May 2015 he became Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), a role he held until July 2016.[4]

He was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[5] Since the result was announced, Penrose supported the official position of his party as an advocate of leaving the European Union.[6][better source needed]

Penrose was a Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office from November 2018 to July 2019.[7]

He was appointed the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion in December 2017, and then reappointed in July 2019.[7]

In October 2020 he attracted media attention by suggesting that “chaotic parents” are to blame for sending their children to school hungry.[8]

Outside Parliament[edit]

Penrose is a Patron of the South West branch of domestic violence charity the ManKind Initiative.[9] He is also President of Weston-super-Mare's YMCA, President of The Abbeyfield Weston-super-Mare Society, President of the League of Friends of Weston General Hospital, a governor of Weston College, a trustee of North Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau, and President of Weston-super-Mare and District Constitutional Club.[10]

In May 2020, Penrose joined the advisory board of free-market blog "1828".[11]

Personal life[edit]

Penrose met the Hon. Dido (Diana) Harding, only daughter of Lord Harding, while both worked at McKinsey. The couple married in October 1995, and have two daughters. Penrose has his home in the Weston-super-Mare constituency and a flat in London.[12] Harding is the Chair of NHS Improvement,[13] former Chief Executive of TalkTalk Group,[14] and owned the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse, Cool Dawn.[15][16]

In 2016, Penrose, who lives in Winscombe, North Somerset, caused some local controversy over the design of a proposed personal swimming pool complex at his home. Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council formally objected to the 'ugly and massive' design on the grounds it would harm local views. The Daily Telegraph reported that this was noteworthy as Penrose had argued in 2013, in a previous ministerial role, for greater protection of historic views, suggesting some of the finest urban views in the country should be listed like buildings. Ultimately, the district council approved the planning application and accepted the argument that an originally planned grass roof was not possible.[17]


  1. ^ "John Penrose MP". HM Government. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  2. ^ "About - Department for Culture, Media & Sport - GOV.UK". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Stephen Barclay named new Brexit Secretary". BBC News. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ "John Penrose MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  5. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  6. ^ "They Work For You". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b ""Prime Minister's Anti-Corruption Champion: John Penrose MP"". GOV.UK. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Tory MP blames 'chaotic parents' for children going to school hungry". Huffington Post. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  9. ^ "About us". Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  10. ^ "John Penrose MP - Your local man in Westminster". Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding linked to anti-NHS group". Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  12. ^ "John Penrose". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  13. ^ "Baroness Dido Harding | NHS Improvement". 30 October 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Dido Harding (8 March 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6.
  16. ^ "List of Public Companies Worldwide". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Minister who called for protection of heritage views, builds 'hideous' pool next to listed church". The Daily Telegraph. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brian Cotter
Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare