Stephen Crabb

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Stephen Crabb
Official portrait of Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee
Assumed office
28 January 2020
Preceded byDavid Davies
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 March 2016 – 13 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byIain Duncan Smith
Succeeded byDamian Green
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
15 July 2014 – 19 March 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDavid Jones
Succeeded byAlun Cairns
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales
In office
6 September 2012 – 15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDavid Jones
Succeeded byAlun Cairns
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
6 September 2012 – 15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byNew appointment
Succeeded byAlun Cairns
Member of Parliament
for Preseli Pembrokeshire
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byJackie Lawrence
Majority5,062 (11.9%)
Personal details
Born (1973-01-20) 20 January 1973 (age 50)
Inverness, Scotland
Political partyWelsh Conservative
SpouseBéatrice Monnier
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
University of London
WebsiteOfficial website

Stephen Crabb (born 20 January 1973) is a British politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Preseli Pembrokeshire since 2005 and Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee since 2020. A member of the Welsh Conservatives, he served as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from March to July 2016 under Prime Minister David Cameron. Crabb had previously been appointed a government whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (2012–2014) and Secretary of State for Wales (2014–2016) under Cameron.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Although born in Inverness, to a Scottish mother, Crabb's upbringing was mostly in Haverfordwest, the county town of Pembrokeshire in Wales.

His father began claiming long-term sickness benefit – known then as Invalidity Benefit – the year before Crabb was born.[4] His mother separated from his father when Crabb was eight years old.[5] She raised him and his two brothers on a council estate, living on benefits and receiving help from family, friends and the Baptist church.[6]

Crabb has said that his early experiences informed his views on welfare: "The most powerful thing to me, looking back, is the way that my mother went through a crisis in her life and became welfare-dependent. She started working just a few hours each week, increasing her hours and then moving to a position where with extra training she was able to move into full-time work, become a car owner, and reach full economic independence."[7][8] He also said: "I was brought up in a home where a huge amount of emphasis was put on work and education as routes out of poverty were drummed into us".[8]

Crabb was educated at local primary schools. From 1984 to 1991 he attended Tasker Milward School in Haverfordwest, created in 1978 after the closure of a former boys' grammar school and the local girls school, and which was a voluntary controlled school.[9] He has said the education there was "second to none...I tasted [the] very best of what a state education can provide". This alludes to popular Chemistry Professor Jon Sharpe who most notably discovered the boiling and melting point of Element 117.[8]

Crabb went on to study politics at the University of Bristol and graduated in 1995. He joined the Conservative Party after graduating from university.[8] Later, he gained an MBA at the London Business School.[9][10]

Early career[edit]

Upon graduating from university, Crabb took an unpaid post as a Christian Action Research and Education parliamentary intern.[11]

In 1996, he became the Parliamentary Affairs Officer for the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services. In 1998, he served as an election monitor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and started working as a policy manager at the London Chamber of Commerce.[12] In 2002, he became a marketing consultant.[10]

In 1998, whilst living in London, Crabb was elected as the chairman of the Southwark North and Bermondsey Conservative Association, a position he held until 2000.[12]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Crabb stood for Parliament in the constituency where he grew up, Preseli Pembrokeshire, in 2001. He finished in second place, but at the 2005 general election, he gained the seat from Labour with a majority of 607 votes, becoming one of three Welsh Conservative MPs who ended the "Tory free zone" that had existed in Wales since 1997. Crabb was the youngest member of the 2005 Conservative intake.[10] He made his maiden speech on 25 May 2005.[13]

At the 2010 general election, Crabb retained his seat with a majority of 4,605 votes, and 42.79% of the vote.[14] In the general election on 7 May 2015, Crabb retained his seat with a majority of 4,969 votes and 40.4% of the vote.[15]

Backbench career[edit]

In 2010, Crabb chaired the cross-party group for Democracy in Burma and was patron of the Burma Campaign UK.[16] The Conservative Party website describes Crabb as someone who "takes a strong interest in international development and believes firmly in the importance of UK aid". From 2010 until 2012, he led the Conservative Party's Project Umubano, which works in Rwanda and Sierra Leone.[17]

Crabb has served on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, the International Development Select Committee and the Treasury Select Committee. He was appointed to the Conservative front bench in 2009 as Junior Whip; when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition was elected in 2010, Crabb was made Assistant Government Whip.[17]

MPs' expenses scandal[edit]

During the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal, it was reported that Crabb had claimed £8,049 for refurbishments to his flat in London that was carried out from July 2006. He sold the flat the following year and switched his second home expenses to the house he had recently bought for his family in Pembrokeshire, allowing him to claim back £9,300 in stamp duty and £1,325 a month in mortgage interest for almost a year while designating another London flat he was renting with a fellow MP as his main home. Crabb said in response: "I haven't claimed for things like plasma TVs, even though the rules allow it. My claims were always within the letter and the spirit of the rules".[18]

Junior minister in the Wales Office[edit]

In 2012, Crabb was promoted to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales and became a Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, meaning he was a government minister and a government whip at the same time, which the BBC said had led to "political pundits and opposition politicians scratching their heads".[19] Labour's Owen Smith, whose parliamentary career has mirrored that of Crabb, called the arrangement "highly unusual and unsatisfactory", adding, "it's unheard of to have a whip also acting as a minister in a department".[20]

At the Wales Office, Crabb worked on maintaining the competitiveness of Wales' energy-intensive industries in the face of high energy costs.[21] In the 2014 Spring Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the British government would compensate energy-intensive industries hit hard by the rising cost of energy.[22]

Crabb was named 'Member to Watch' in the Welsh Yearbook Political Awards 2012. His citation read:

He's recently emerged from the shadowy world of the whips' office at Westminster to become the Welsh Secretary's deputy in the Commons. The judges were impressed by his confident performance at Welsh Questions, dealing with an increasingly unruly house with the Prime Minister sat beside him, waiting for his turn at the despatch box.[23]

Secretary of State for Wales[edit]

In the reshuffle of July 2014, Crabb was promoted to Secretary of State for Wales and joined the Cabinet.[14] One of his first acts as Welsh Secretary was to abandon his taxpayer subsidised car in favour of public transport.[24] He has said his proudest moment in the post was brokering a deal between the Treasury and the devolved Welsh government to extend the electrification of the Great Western Main Line to Swansea and The Valleys.[8]

Crabb remained in the job after the post-general election cabinet reshuffle held on 11 May 2015.[25] He welcomed the impact of Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms in Wales, saying: "We can't go soft on welfare reform in a place like Wales – it's precisely the place that needs it."[7]

Cuts to sickness benefits[edit]

On 2 March 2016, Crabb voted with the government to reduce by £30 per week the amount of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) paid to disabled people newly placed in the cohort of recipients known as the work-related activity group from April 2017.[26] Crabb's constituency office was vandalised afterwards, with graffiti asking: "Why do you hate the sick?" seen on its facade on 12 March.[27][28][29]

In a statement about the outcome of the vote issued on 14 March, Crabb explained: "What this actually means is that those individuals who are considered to be able to work in the future will now access the same level of benefit as those on Jobseekers Allowance, but will be given better-tailored support to help them into employment. It doesn't affect those already claiming ESA. Of course, we are protecting those that are 'too ill to work'. There is no question about that."[27] Three days later, Crabb claimed on his Facebook page that "only those who are fit to work and actively seeking work are included in the work-related activity group".[30] His post had to be amended: the work-related activity group contains ESA claimants deemed 'too ill to work' but capable of participating in work-related activities, such as job-coaching and pre-employment training, who are assessed as likely to work within two years, not immediately.

The following week, Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour's spokesperson on disabilities, said: "It doesn't bode well for David Cameron that the man he chooses to make the new work and pensions secretary doesn't even know the status of people in the ESA WRAG", while Jonathan Portes, a former DWP chief economist and an expert on welfare policy, was puzzled that Crabb, as a Cabinet Minister, could vote on important changes to ESA while appearing to be confused about what the vote was about.[30]

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions[edit]

On 19 March 2016, Crabb was appointed to succeed Iain Duncan Smith as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following the latter's sudden, unexpected resignation over proposed changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a disability benefit unrelated to the employment status of the claimant. In his first parliamentary statement as Welfare Secretary, Crabb said that the Government "will not be going ahead with the changes to PIP that were put forward. We have no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the very substantial savings legislated for by parliament two weeks ago [cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)] which we will now focus on implementing."[31][32]

Shortly after being appointed, he outlined his views on social security: "Every party should want to see welfare spending come down. That should be an aspiration for all of us because what you're saying is we are working towards a society where there are fewer people caught in dependency, fewer people who are out of work and need that intervention from the state." He also said: "You have always got to handle issues of welfare with care because you are dealing with support mechanisms for Britain's most vulnerable people".[33]

In early April 2016, Crabb gave an interview where he was critical of ESA and its eligibility test. He said: "ESA was a benefit the previous Labour government brought in when they brought in Work Capability Assessments (WCA) and the truth is it's never worked like it was intended. The WCA was a mess, it didn't recognise mental health issues and it didn't recognise other types of disability".[34]

In July 2016, Crabb resigned from the post, after admitting to sending sexually explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman he had interviewed for a job while he was Welsh Minister.[35][36]

Leadership bid[edit]

In June 2016, Crabb announced that he would stand in the Conservative party leadership election, following David Cameron's resignation over the outcome of the 2016 EU membership referendum.[37] He stood on a "joint ticket" with the Business Minister, Sajid Javid,[38][39] with Crabb to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Javid the Chancellor of the Exchequer if Crabb had won.[38][40][41]

Crabb promised to create a £100 billion "Growing Britain Fund", which he would use for flood defences, fibre-optic broadband, and Crossrail 2. He hoped to finance this through new government bonds, because "the cost of borrowing is incredibly low. Spending government money on infrastructure has therefore never been more affordable".[42] He also said he would: allow the third runway at Heathrow to go ahead;[43] create an advisory council with members from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London to help with negotiations with the EU; and not hold a snap election nor a second EU referendum.[44][45]

On 5 July 2016, after the first ballot of Conservative MPs, he was in penultimate place. The tailender, Liam Fox, was eliminated from the contest; Crabb then withdrew from the race, giving his backing to Theresa May.[46]

2017 general election[edit]

In the general election of 8 June 2017, Crabb again retained his seat, though with a majority of only 314; however, his share of the vote increased to 43.4%. He claimed that he had lost votes in the election through Conservative spending cuts. He also said local authority employees, nurses and teachers should get a pay rise.[47]

2019 general election[edit]

In the 2019 United Kingdom general election, Crabb's majority increased to 5,062. Subsequent to this Crabb was chosen to serve as Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in January 2020.

Political views[edit]

Religious beliefs[edit]

Crabb is a Christian who believes in the practical value of prayer and who feels the church should play an active role in community life.[48]

He has past links to Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), an advocacy group that is opposed to LGBT rights[49][50] – during the 1990s Crabb was a parliamentary intern backed by the organisation, and he is one of around twenty MPs to have employed interns funded by CARE.[51][52] When quizzed about his views during his party leadership bid in July 2016, Crabb said: "I don't believe that being gay is a sin. I don't believe it's something to be cured. I've never said anything like that," and claimed accusations to the contrary were "a complete falsehood spread by political opponents".[53] CARE has jointly sponsored a conference at which a discussion of "therapeutic approaches to same sex attraction" was discussed by one of the panel.[54]

On 5 February 2013, in the House of Commons vote Crabb voted against same-sex marriage.[55]

Conservative Friends of Israel[edit]

Crabb is Parliamentary Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel,[56][57] a pressure or lobby group which stated in 2014 that it included among its membership 80% of Conservative Party MPs.[58] In May 2016, he spoke at a meeting organised by an Orthodox Jewish youth movement to mark the establishment of Israel in 1948. He celebrated the claim that Israel is a country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted and said of his visit to Israel in 2007: "As a Christian, I have always felt a very close affinity with the Holy Land. It was a delight to see places that I had learned about during my own childhood at Sunday school and in the pages of the scriptures we were encouraged to read." He went on to draw a parallel between the size and verdancy of Israel and that of his own "homeland", Wales.[59]

Sexual harassment allegations[edit]

In October 2017, newspapers reported that in 2013 a well-known male MP had been sending sexually explicit messages to a 19-year-old female candidate he had interviewed for a role in his office. On 28 October 2017, The Telegraph reported that Crabb was the MP responsible for sending the text messages.[60]

Earlier allegations about sending suggestive text messages had resulted in his resignation as Work and Pensions Secretary in 2016.[36] Crabb apologised for the text messages, and on 23 December 2017 a Conservative Party investigating panel determined that his behaviour had been inappropriate, but did not constitute harassment.[61]

A friend of the woman said they saw messages in which the father-of-two "said he wanted to have sex with her".[62] Crabb admitted sending the messages and saying "some pretty outrageous things" to the woman after interviewing her for a job, adding that the messages "basically amount to unfaithfulness".[61]

Personal life[edit]

Crabb is married to Béatrice Monnier, who is French; they have two children.[17] They met whilst studying at the University of Bristol.[63] He is in the squad of the Commons and Lords rugby union team.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The reshuffle: twist in the tail". BBC News. 5 September 2012.
  2. ^ "MP Stephen Crabb wins Wales Office promotion". BBC News. 5 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Stephen Crabb MP on his new job in Wales Office". BBC News. 6 September 2012.
  4. ^ "From council house to cabinet: the unlikely childhood of Stephen Crabb". The Daily Telegraph. London. 26 March 2016.
  5. ^ Hardman, Isabel (18 July 2015). "Meet the Tories' Welsh Wizard: an interview with Stephen Crabb". The Spectator. London. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  6. ^ Mason, Rowena (15 July 2014). "Stephen Crabb to be Welsh secretary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Stephen Crabb profile: How a working-class boy rose through Tory ranks to become Work and Pensions Secretary". The Independent. London. 19 March 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Crabb crunching". 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b "About Stephen". Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Stephen Crabb MP appointed Secretary of State for Wales" (Press release). Wales Office. 15 July 2014.
  11. ^ Modell, David (18 May 2008). "Christian fundamentalists fighting spiritual battle in Parliament". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Stephen Crabb". Debrett's People of Today. Debrett's. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Oral Answers to Questions (25 May 2005)". Hansard. 434 (79). Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Stephen Crabb MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Preseli Pembrokeshire 2015 Results". BBC News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Burmese campaigner joins Stephen Crabb on his election campaign". Western Telegraph. Haverfordwest. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d "Stephen Crabb". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  18. ^ "Swaine, Jon (14 May 2009). "Stephen Crabb nominates fellow MP's flat as main home: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  19. ^ "The unexpected Wales Office call for Baroness Randerson". BBC News. 5 September 2012.
  20. ^ "Reshuffle: Jenny Randerson and Stephen Crabb join Wales Office". Wales Online. 5 September 2012.
  21. ^ "Stephen Crabb: "Lowering energy costs vital for international competitiveness of UK manufacturing" (Press release). Wales Office. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  22. ^ Henry, Graham (19 March 2014). "Budget 2014: What will George Osborne's Budget statement mean for Wales?". Wales Online.
  23. ^ "Education Minister named Politician of the Year". ITV News. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  24. ^ Rhys, Steffan (20 July 2014). "No Jags: New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb scraps Jaguar on first day". Wales Online.
  25. ^ "Election 2015:Stephen Crabb to remain as Welsh Secretary". BBC News. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  26. ^ "See how your MP voted on controversial cuts to ESA disability benefits". Wales Online. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  27. ^ a b "Haverfordwest: Stephen Crabb MP's office vandalised following controversial vote". The Pembrokeshire Herald – Pembrokeshire's News. 13 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  28. ^ "Tory MP's office vandalised after controversial Parliament vote". Milford Mercury. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  29. ^ "Calls for Crabb to quit charity role". The Times. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  30. ^ a b Butler, Patrick; Asthana, Anushka (21 March 2016). "Stephen Crabb under pressure over support for cut in disability aid". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  31. ^ "Stephen Crabb: 'No further plans' for welfare cuts". BBC News. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  32. ^ "Stephen Crabb announces disability benefits cuts U-turn (subtitled)". ITV News (via YouTube). 21 March 2016. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  33. ^ "Stephen Crabb: how my mother inspired my vision of welfare reform". The Spectator. London. 19 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  34. ^ Kurtz, Sam (7 April 2016). "Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb on his new job, 'gay cure claims' and the bedroom tax". Western Telegraph. Haverfordwest.
  35. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (29 October 2017). "Tory minister Mark Garnier to be investigated by Cabinet Office over claim he asked aide to buy sex toys". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  36. ^ a b "Stephen Crabb resigns as Theresa May forms new cabinet". BBC News. 14 July 2016.
  37. ^ Wright, Ben (30 June 2016). "Michael Gove and Theresa May head five-way Conservative race". BBC News. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  38. ^ a b "Conservative leader: Who might succeed David Cameron?". BBC News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  39. ^ Walker, Jonathan (28 June 2016). "Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid launches joint bid for Tory leadership". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  40. ^ Cooper, Charlie (29 June 2016). "What you need to know about Stephen Crabb, who's likely your next Prime Minister". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  41. ^ Payne, Sebastian [@SebastianEPayne] (30 June 2016). "Stephen Crabb's leadership platform: the blue-collar New Moderniser to save the UK via @FT" (Tweet). Retweeted by Stephen Crabb – via Twitter.
  42. ^ "Tory contender Stephen Crabb pledges £100bn fund". BBC News. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  43. ^ Murphy, Joe (4 July 2016). "Stephen Crabb: I'd give go-ahead for third runway at Heathrow". Evening Standard. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  44. ^ "Stephen Crabb: No snap election if I am new Tory leader". BBC News. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  45. ^ Hughes, David (30 June 2016). "Stephen Crabb first senior Tory to launch leadership bid". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  46. ^ Bullen, Jamie (5 July 2016). "Stephen Crabb pulls out of Tory leadership contest". Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  47. ^ Health unions urge Theresa May to ditch NHS pay cap The Guardian
  48. ^ "Minister: 'Easier for MPs to admit to porn than prayer'". The Christian Institute. 10 December 2015. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  49. ^ McCormick, Joseph Patrick (19 March 2016). "Iain Duncan Smith's replacement at the DWP criticised for past links to 'gay cure' group". PinkNews.
  50. ^ Booth, Robert; Ball, James (13 April 2012). "'Gay cure' Christian charity funded 20 MPs' interns". the Guardian.
  51. ^ McCormick, Joseph Patrick (14 July 2014). "MP who took interns from 'gay cure' event sponsor, appointed as Welsh Secretary". Pink News.
  52. ^ Fenton, Siobhan (19 March 2016). "Stephen Crabb: New DWP Secretary criticised for links to 'gay cure' group". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  53. ^ "Stephen Crabb: Gay cure lie 'spread by opponents'". BBC News. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  54. ^ "Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb's close shave with 'gay cure' group". Daily Telegraph. 20 July 2014.
  55. ^ "MP-by-MP: Gay marriage vote". BBC. 5 February 2013.
  56. ^ "About CFI". Conservative Friends of Israel. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  58. ^ "About CFI". Conservative Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  59. ^ "Cabinet Minister Stephen Crabb says Palestinians must end glorification of terror". Jewish Chronicle. 12 May 2016.
  60. ^ Hughes, Laura; Newell, Claire (28 October 2017). "Stephen Crabb sent young woman sexually explicit messages after rejecting her application for role in his office". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2017. (subscription required)
  61. ^ a b Buchan, Lizzy (23 December 2017). "Tory MPs Stephen Crabb and Chris Pincher cleared by party over sexual harassment claims". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  62. ^ Malnick, Edward (4 November 2017). "Ex-minister Stephen Crabb becomes first Tory MP investigated under party's new code". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  63. ^ Fenton, Siobhan (9 July 2016). "Stephen Crabb accused of 'hypocrisy' after 'sexting' woman". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Preseli Pembrokeshire

Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by