Mike Penning

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Mike Penning
Official portrait, 2019
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
15 July 2016 – 12 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byPenny Mordaunt
Succeeded byMark Lancaster
Minister of State for Justice
In office
15 July 2014 – 15 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJeremy Wright
Succeeded byOliver Heald
Minister of State for Policing
In office
15 July 2014 – 15 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDamian Green
Succeeded byBrandon Lewis
Minister of State for Disabled People
In office
7 October 2013 – 15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byEsther McVey
Succeeded byMark Harper
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHugo Swire
Succeeded byAndrew Robathan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byChris Mole
Succeeded byStephen Hammond
Member of Parliament
for Hemel Hempstead
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byTony McWalter
Majority14,563 (28.4%)
Personal details
Born (1957-09-28) 28 September 1957 (age 66)
Finchley, Middlesex, England
Political partyConservative
SpouseAngela Smith
Children2 daughters
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/serviceGrenadier Guards
Years of service1974–1980
Northern Ireland

Sir Michael Alan Penning (born 28 September 1957) is a British Conservative Party politician, who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hemel Hempstead since 2005.

Penning was the Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 2016 to 2017, having previously served as the Minister of State for Justice and Minister of State for Policing from 2014 to 2016, the Minister for Disabled People from 2013 to 2014, the Minister of State for Northern Ireland from 2012 to 2013, and the Minister of State for Transport from 2010 to 2012.[1]

He remains in the House of Commons as a backbencher.

Early life and career[edit]

Penning was born in Finchley, North London,[2] and raised in the county of Essex. He first went to school in South Benfleet before attending King Edmund School in Rochford.[3] After leaving school, Penning enlisted in the British Army as a Grenadier Guardsman, and served several tours in Northern Ireland, Kenya and Germany. During his time in the Grenadiers, an officer, Captain Robert Nairac, GC, was abducted and murdered by the IRA.[4]

After leaving the Army, Penning subsequently worked as a firefighter for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, before joining his family business and then becoming a political journalist.[5]

Political career[edit]

In the mid-1990s, Penning worked as a media adviser to the Euro-rebels who had had the Conservative Party whip removed by Prime Minister John Major during the Maastricht rebellion.[6] He was subsequently the election agent to Sir Teddy Taylor during the 1997 general election. He stood for election in Thurrock at the 2001 general election, coming second to Labour's Andrew MacKinlay. Following this, he was appointed as a chief adviser to William Hague as Leader of the Opposition, later becoming the Conservative Party's Deputy Head of Media under the brief and unpopular leadership of Iain Duncan Smith.

Member of Parliament[edit]

At the 2005 general election Penning stood in the Labour-held seat of Hemel Hempstead, narrowly defeating sitting MP Tony McWalter. Penning overturned McWalter's 2001 majority of 3,742 votes and won the seat (after a partial recount) by 499 votes. In July 2007, Penning was promoted by Conservative Leader David Cameron to the post of Shadow Minister for Public Health.

The Buncefield fire occurred on 11 December 2005 and led to some 2,700 claims for compensation.[7] In the words of neighbouring MP Peter Lilley, "There is something providential about the fact that the worst fire in western Europe since the Second World War should occur in a constituency represented by a fireman. It was undoubtedly in the interests of all his constituents and mine to have someone so knowledgeable, as well as so vigorous in their response, to represent their interests."[8] Penning, who arrived on the scene within half an hour of the explosion, had himself been trained to deal with much smaller petroleum fires; the scenario was that one tank not twenty was affected.[9]

Dexion workers, 700 of whom worked in the constituency,[10] lost their pensions when the company went into receivership in 2003. Dexion played a prominent part in Ros Altmann's Pensions theft campaign.[11] Penning, whose support for Dexion preceded his election, offered compensation from unclaimed assets in his 2005 Manifesto[12] and has spoken on the issue 26 times in Parliament.[13] Dexion pensioners were featured celebrating a victory at the High Court in February 2007 which eventually led to increased compensation from the then-Labour government.[14]

According to Theyworkforyou.com, Penning spoke in an "above average" number of debates from 2009 to 2010 and replied to a "very high number" of messages. He also received replies to an "above average" number of written questions.[15] The quality of those questions was disputed by a 2006 The Times article about the Theyworkforyou website which Penning used to email constituents.[16] His 624 questions in 10 months included one on sales of lost property in Royal Parks since records began. The newspaper suggested the objective was to increase ratings on the website,[16] an allegation rejected by Penning.

Penning "occasionally rebelled", with two per cent of his votes being against the Whip, and was "very strongly" in favour of a smoking ban. Penning's parliamentary expenses details have been published as part of a general publication of all MPs' expenses. In 2009, he claimed a total of £135,078, 502nd of all MPs.[15] The Legg Report found no problem with his expenses.[17] Penning did, however, voluntarily repay £2.99 for a dog bowl, which was the lowest recorded repayment by any MP.[18][19]

Subsequent elections[edit]

Penning achieved one of the largest increases in his majority of all MPs at the 2010 general election, when he took 50% of the vote share to hold the seat with a majority of 13,406.[20] This result relegated Labour's Ayfer Orhan to third place behind the Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Grayson, representing the largest swing from the Labour Party to the Conservative Party (a 14.4% swing) in the country.[20][21][22]

In the 2015 general election, Penning increased his majority by 2.9% to 52.9% to hold his seat with a 14,420 majority.[23] In the subsequent reshuffle, Penning was appointed as Minister of State in the Home Office for Policing and Criminal Justice.[24] In the June 2017 general election he held Hemel Hempstead with a reduced majority of 9,445, but with an increased share of the vote (55%). He was re-elected in the 2019 general election.[25]

On 17 May 2022, he announced that he would stand down at the next general election.[26]

Minister of State[edit]

Penning speaks at the #WeProtect Children Online Summit in London on 9 December 2014.

After the 2010 election, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed him a Minister of State for Transport, with roads and shipping being among his responsibilities.[27] In his capacity as Minister for Shipping, Penning presented Efthimios Mitropoulos (immediate past-IMO Secretary-General) with the insignia of KCMG in Greece on behalf of the Queen.[28] In his role as Road Safety Minister, he suggested that the Dutch could learn about cyclist safety from the British. However, cycling ambassador Roelof Wittink said that although the UK had a lower death toll per head of population, the Dutch use bicycles far more and have one third of the fatalities per mile cycled.[29]

In the reshuffle of 4 September 2012, Penning was moved to become Minister of State for Northern Ireland, a position he held for just over a year until being promoted to become Minister of State for Disabled People on 7 October 2013.[1][30] He was subsequently promoted a second time on 15 July 2014 to serve as both the Minister of State for Policing and the Minister of State for Justice, and was also sworn of the Privy Council.[31] Following the 2017 election, he was sacked as a minister by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Political positions[edit]

Penning was a supporter of Brexit during the 2016 referendum.[32]

In May 2021, Penning tabled and was the sole signatory of an early day motion stating as the "UK has left the European Union, the UK should now leave the Eurovision Song Contest, calling on the BBC to no longer spend licence fee money on an event designed to humiliate the UK and notes that, if the winning song is to be broadcast on the public airwaves, it should be preceded by a public health warning."[33]

Penning resigned as vice chairman of the Conservative Party in order to publicly support Penny Mordaunt's campaign in the July 2022 Conservative Party leadership election.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Penning lives in Hemel Hempstead with his wife Angela.[35] He employs his wife as his Office Manager on an annual salary up to £40,000. He has two daughters.[36]

He is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.[37]



  1. ^ a b "Michael Moore axed as Scottish secretary in coalition reshuffle". BBC News. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Sir Mike Penning Personal website". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  3. ^ "The Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  4. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 May 2008 (pt 0003)". publications.parliament.uk.
  5. ^ "Mike Penning Personal website". Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  6. ^ Wegg-Prosser, Benjamin (13 September 2001). "Guardian 7/9/2001, – What's cooking in the Tory kitchen cabinet". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Buncefield victims in court move". BBC News. 17 March 2006. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Buncefield Debate Westminster Hall,Speaker=Peter Lilly". TheyWorkForYou.com. 9 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Buncefield Debate Westminster Hall,Speaker=Mike Penning". TheyWorkForYou.com. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  10. ^ "HC Deb, 22 July 2008". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  11. ^ Limbajee, Khevyn (28 October 2005). "London: Pension crisis". BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  12. ^ "HC Deb, 18 April 2007, c361". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  13. ^ "dexion speaker:Michael Penning". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  14. ^ Cowie, Ian (21 February 2007). "Pensioners win victory in High Court". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  15. ^ a b "Michael Penning". Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  16. ^ a b Hurst, Greg (27 February 2006). "The MPs who can't stop talking". London: Times Newspapers. Archived from the original on 16 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  17. ^ "Review of past ACA payments" (PDF). House of Commons Members Estimate Committee. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  18. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail (repayments)". BBC. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  19. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail". BBC. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  20. ^ a b "BBC News Election 2010 Constituency Hemel Hempstead". Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  21. ^ Amie Mulderrig (11 May 2010). "Re-elected Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning achieves largest swing from Labour to Conservative in the country". Watford Observer. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  22. ^ "How Britain voted". Guardian Supplement. 8 May 2010. p. 8.
  23. ^ "BBC News Election 2015 Constituency Hemel Hempstead". Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  24. ^ "West Yorkshire Police Federation". Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  25. ^ "Hemel Hempstead parliamentary constituency - Election 2019 - BBC News". Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning to retire at next election". BBC News. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  27. ^ "Her Majesty's Government". UK Parliament.
  28. ^ "Greek News Agenda". www.greeknewsagenda.gr.
  29. ^ Roelof Wittink Executive Director, Dutch Cycling Embassy (24 April 2012). "Sorry minister, it is the Brits who must learn from the Dutch on #cyclesafe". The Times. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  30. ^ "MP Penning promoted to head Northern Ireland security". www.hemeltoday.co.uk.
  31. ^ "Homepage | Sir Mike Penning MP - Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead".
  32. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Eurovision song contest - Early Day Motions - UK Parliament". edm.parliament.uk. Retrieved 29 November 2021.[non-primary source needed]
  34. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (13 July 2022). "Tory vice-chair resigns to publicly campaign for leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt". The Independent. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  35. ^ "MP website". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  36. ^ "They Work For You". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  37. ^ "Iain Dale: IDS and Penning only sing when they're winning". Conservative Home. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  38. ^ "Knighthoods: Michael Penning and Robert Syms". Retrieved 23 November 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Mike Penning at Wikimedia Commons

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Hemel Hempstead

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Disabled People
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Policing
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Succeeded by