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Christopher Heaton-Harris (born 28 November 1967) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Daventry in May 2010 and was previously a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East Midlands from 1999 to 2009.[2] On 9 July 2018 he was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union, before resigning on 3 April 2019.

Chris Heaton-Harris

Official portrait of Chris Heaton-Harris crop 2.jpg
Minister of State for Transport
Assumed office
25 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byMichael Ellis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Exiting the European Union
In office
9 July 2018 – 3 April 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded bySteve Baker
Succeeded byJames Cleverly
Comptroller of the Household
In office
9 January 2018[1] – 9 July 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byChristopher Pincher
Succeeded byMark Spencer
Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
9 January 2018 – 9 July 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byMichael Ellis
Succeeded byMark Spencer
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
15 June 2017 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJulian Smith
Succeeded byMark Spencer
Member of Parliament
for Daventry
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byTim Boswell
Majority21,734 (39.0%)
Member of the European Parliament
for East Midlands
In office
1 May 1999 – 4 June 2009
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byEmma McClarkin
Personal details
Born (1967-11-28) 28 November 1967 (age 51)
Epsom, Surrey, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Websitewww.heatonharris.org.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Born on 28 November 1967, Heaton-Harris attended the Tiffin Grammar School for Boys in Kingston upon Thames.[3]

He worked for the family business at New Covent Garden Market, before taking over from his father as Chairman of What4 Ltd, until his election to the European Parliament.[citation needed] In the 1997 general election he stood in the Labour safe seat of Leicester South, coming second.[citation needed] He was the Conservative party's candidate for that seat in the 2004 Leicester South by-election and came third to the Liberal Democrat Parmjit Singh Gill.[citation needed]

European ParliamentEdit

Heaton-Harris was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 as MEP for the East Midlands, and was re-elected in 2004. He was the Chief Whip for the Conservatives in the European Parliament from 2001 to March 2004.

Heaton-Harris sat on the Internal Market Committee, responsible for "co-ordination at Community level of national legislation in the sphere of the internal market and of the customs union" as well as the Central America Delegation and the Bulgaria Delegation.

He was a founding member of the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform, a cross-national, cross-party group of MEPs that campaigns for reforms within the parliament. Its manifesto includes creating one seat for the parliament (in Brussels), cleaning up the system for MEPs' expenses, and improving debate within the parliament.

Heaton-Harris was also responsible for bringing the case of Marta Andreasen, the European Commission's Chief Accountant, to public attention back in August 2002 and has been involved in fighting fraud, mismanagement and waste within the European Commission and other European institutions.

Immediately prior to standing down in 2009, Heaton-Harris was the President of the Sports Intergroup, a group of approximately 40 MEPs who have an interest in sport and sporting issues.

From May 2006, he sought support within the EU legislature for a letter to FIFA demanding that the Iranian national football team be thrown out of the 2006 World Cup because of the Iranian President's comments about the Holocaust being a lie.[4]

Heaton-Harris describes himself as a "fierce Eurosceptic".[5]

Member of UK ParliamentEdit

Chris Heaton-Harris was a member of the Conservative A-List and was selected to succeed Tim Boswell as candidate for the safe Conservative seat of Daventry in June 2006.[6] He won the seat in the 2010 general election, with a majority of 19,188.

In March 2012, Heaton-Harris was reported as being one of the Conservative MPs to have spoken critically of Party Co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi at a meeting of the 1922 Committee, following Warsi's handling of Roger Helmer MEP's defection to UKIP.[7]

After the resignation of Boris Johnson and the following domino resignations of Conservative ministers, on 9 July 2018 Heaton-Harris was appointed as one of three Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union.[1]

Financial interestsEdit

Heaton-Harris accepted tickets for himself and his family to attend four events at the London 2012 Olympics relating to swimming, diving, gymnastics, plus the closing ceremony, as a gift from Coca-Cola. The value of the gifts (£11,750) was the highest amount received by any MP. He declared them in the Register of Members' Interests.[5]

In 2017, he accepted a ticket and hospitality for an NFL game at Wembley worth £479 from NFL UK.[citation needed]

Climate changeEdit

In November 2012, covert video footage of Heaton-Harris discussing the role of James Delingpole in the Corby by-election were published on The Guardian website. The recording, made by Greenpeace, appeared to show the MP's support for Delingpole's independent, anti-windfarm candidacy, at a time when Heaton-Harris was engaged by the Conservatives to run the unsuccessful campaign of their own candidate, Christine Emmett.

Heaton-Harris indicated that this was linked to a plan by core members of the Conservative Party to emasculate the Climate Change Act by making its commitments advisory rather than mandatory.[8] After Heaton-Harris apologised for the impression he gave in the video, Home Secretary Theresa May said he was guilty only of silly bragging, while Labour's Michael Dugher MP urged Prime Minister David Cameron to show leadership and punish him.[9] The Corby by-election was subsequently lost by the Conservatives with a swing to Labour of 12.8 per cent.[10]

Letters to universitiesEdit

In October 2017, the Eurosceptic Heaton-Harris wrote to the vice-chancellors of every university in the UK, requesting the names of academics lecturing on Brexit and copies of all course material, leading to claims of political interference in academic freedom, as well as censorship. The move was described as "McCarthyite" by Prof Kevin Featherstone, head of the European Institute at the London School of Economics, and "sinister" by Prof David Green, the vice-Chancellor of Worcester University who likened it to Newspeak and the Thought Police from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: the Dean of Durham Law School, Thom Brooks, called it "dog whistle politics at its worst",[11] while Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, called the letter an act of "idiotic and offensive Leninism".[12] In addition, the letter attracted criticism from both pro-Remain and pro-Leave academics at London's Queen Mary and Cambridge universities and a rebuke from Downing Street.[13][14][15]

Responding the next day to the widespread and growing criticism from both politicians and academics, universities minister Jo Johnson suggested that Heaton-Harris might have been researching a possible book on "the evolution of attitudes" to Europe, rather than acting in his role as a government minister, and "probably didn't appreciate the degree to which (the letter) would be misinterpreted",[16] although there was no mention of any research for a possible book in the original letter. On the 17 February 2019, he admitted that there had never been any plans for a book.[17]

European Research GroupEdit

Heaton-Harris chaired the European Research Group, a group of Eurosceptic MPs, from 2010 until November 2016. Subscriptions totalling £13,850 were claimed as a parliamentary expense. But at the same time he sat on the wide-ranging powers of the European Scrutiny Committee, set up to monitor legislation from Brussels.[18][better source needed]

In a separate issue documents from the House of Commons catering department released via Freedom of Information to openDemocracy show Heaton-Harris hosted an ERG breakfast meeting in October 2017, despite taking over as a government whip in July 2016. Continuing to chair the group while he was a member of the government contravenes the ministerial code, section 7.12 of which states: "Ministers should take care to ensure that they do not become associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with Government policy and thus give rise to a conflict of interest." However, a government spokesperson stated that they did not view it as a breach.[19][better source needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Heaton-Harris is married and has two children.[5] He is a qualified football referee.[20]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Chris Heaton-Harris MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  2. ^ "About Chris". Chris Heaton-Harris MP. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  3. ^ A & C Black (November 2016). "HEATON-HARRIS, Christopher". Who's Who 2017. Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  4. ^ "EU member wants Iran out of World Cup". MSNBC. 11 May 2006. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006.
  5. ^ a b c Rojas, John-Paul Ford (14 November 2012). "Chris Heaton Harris: windfarm opponent and Eurosceptic". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  6. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Where are the original A-Listers now? The 18 who have been selected for Conservative seats". conservativehome.blogs.com.
  7. ^ Tories give Warsi both barrels Archived 10 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Lewis, Paul; Evans, Rob (13 November 2012). "Tory MP running Corby campaign 'backed rival in anti-windfarm plot'". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Wintour, Patrick (14 November 2012). "Tory MP escapes discipline over anti-windfarm comments". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Eaton, George (16 November 2012). "Labour triumphs in Corby by-election". the New Statesman. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  11. ^ Gray, Jasmin (26 October 2017). "Daily Mail's Attack On 'Remainer Universities' And 'Anti-Brexit' Academics Sparks Backlash". Huffington Post.
  12. ^ "Tory MP's Brexit demand to universities 'offensive' – Lord Patten". BBC News. 24 October 2017.
  13. ^ Fazackerley, Anna (24 October 2017). "Universities deplore 'McCarthyism' as MP demands list of tutors lecturing on Brexit". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Elgot, Jessica; Mason, Rowena; Fazackerley, Anna; Adams, Richard (24 October 2017). "No 10 disowns Tory whip accused of 'McCarthyite' behaviour". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Kentish, Ben (24 October 2017). "Conservative MP demands universities give him names of lecturers teaching about Brexit". Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  16. ^ "MP's Brexit letter to universities 'was research for book'". BBC News. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  17. ^ Paton, Stephen; Learmonth, Andrew. "Fanatical Tory who demanded names of lecturers for book admits 'there isn't a book'". The National. The National. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  18. ^ "MP expense claims for subscriptions to the ERG since 2010". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  19. ^ Ramsay, Adam (29 January 2018). "MPs demand 'urgent investigation' into Cabinet ministers' support for hard-Brexit lobby group". openDemocracy.
  20. ^ "CHRIS HEATON-HARRIS - MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR DAVENTRY". conservatives.com. Retrieved 25 October 2017.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tim Boswell
Member of Parliament for Daventry
2010–present
Incumbent