Chuka Harrison Umunna (/
|Spokesperson of Change UK – The Independent Group|
|Assumed office |
1 March 2019
|Leader||Heidi Allen (Interim)|
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Shadow Secretary of State for |
Business, Innovation and Skills
7 October 2011 – 13 September 2015
Harriet Harman (Acting)
|Preceded by||John Denham|
|Succeeded by||Angela Eagle|
|Parliamentary Private Secretary |
to the Leader of the Opposition
10 October 2010 – 23 May 2011
Serving with Anne McGuire
|Preceded by||Desmond Swayne|
|Succeeded by||Michael Dugher|
|Member of Parliament|
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Keith Hill|
Chuka Harrison Umunna
17 October 1978
Lambeth, London, England
|Political party||Independent (2019–present)|
|The Independent Group (2019–present)|
Alice Sullivan (m. 2016)
|Relations||Sir Helenus Milmo (grandfather)|
|Alma mater||University of Manchester|
Nottingham Trent University
Umunna was educated at St Dunstan's College before studying at the University of Manchester and Nottingham Trent University. He worked as a solicitor in the City of London, first for Herbert Smith and then Rochman Landau, while writing articles for the Compass think tank. He joined Labour when party styled itself as "New Labour" and, when in parliament, he aligned with the party's "Blue Labour" trend and was a member of the Labour Friends of Israel group. He was selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate for Streatham in 2008, and was elected MP in the 2010 United Kingdom general election.
As an MP, Umunna joined the Shadow Cabinet under Ed Miliband's Labour leadership. In parliament, he sat on the Treasury Select Committee. He was re-elected in the 2015 and 2017 general elections. After Miliband's resignation, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015; Umunna was critical of Corbyn's push leftward and that year resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to sit as a backbencher. A supporter of the unsuccessful campaign to retain UK membership of the European Union in the 2016 referendum, he then campaigned for a second referendum. In February 2019 he joined other centrist Labour MPs in splitting from the party to form The Independent Group.
Umunna was born in London, England. His father, Bennett, of the Nigerian Igbo ethnic group and owner of an import-export business, died in a road accident in Nigeria in 1992. Umunna's mother, Patricia Milmo, a solicitor, is of English-Irish background. Umunna's maternal grandparents were Joan Frances (Morley) and Sir Helenus Milmo QC, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.
Umunna was educated at Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham, South London, and the Christ Church Primary School in Brixton Hill. He says his parents felt that the local state school had "given up on him" and as a result had moved him to the boys' independent senior school St Dunstan's College, in Catford in south-east London, where he played the cello. During this period he was also a chorister at Southwark Cathedral. He was awarded an upper second class LLB in English and French Law from the University of Manchester; after graduating he studied for one term at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, before studying for an MA at Nottingham Trent.
After university, in 2002, he began work as a solicitor for the City of London firm Herbert Smith. In 2006 he joined Rochman Landau (now Ashfords LLP), specialising in employment law. From 2006 onwards, Umunna began to write and provide commentary on the Labour Party, as well as broader social and economic issues, usually in his capacity as a member of the Management Committee of the Labour-aligned Compass pressure group. He also wrote articles for the Financial Times, Tribune, The Voice, The Guardian and the New Statesman, and began to appear on various radio and television programmes as a commentator. He founded and edited the online political magazine, The Multicultural Politic. In 2007, he campaigned for Jon Cruddas' unsuccessful bid to become Labour deputy leader.
Member of ParliamentEdit
In March 2008, Umunna was adopted as the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Streatham. At the 2010 general election, he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Streatham with a 3,259 majority; he gave his maiden speech on 2 June 2010. He took a particular interest in economic policy and reform of the City.
Umunna argued that the Conservative-led Coalition Government (2010–2015) should revise its programme of fiscal consolidation, take a tougher stance with the British banking industry and take action to transform the credit ratings agency market. Umunna was one of 63 Labour MPs to nominate Ed Miliband in the 2010 Labour leadership election to succeed Gordon Brown as party leader.
Treasury Select CommitteeEdit
In June 2010, he was elected as a member of the Treasury Select Committee. In January 2011, Umunna questioned the chief executive of Barclays, Bob Diamond, in relation to alleged tax avoidance activities by the bank during which he disclosed that the bank used over 300 subsidiary companies in offshore jurisdictions. In response to a question from Umunna, Diamond stated in February 2011 that Barclays had paid £113m in UK corporation tax in 2009, despite making £11.6bn in profit. Umunna held this position until his appointment to Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise.
In October 2010, following Miliband's election as party leader, Umunna was appointed to serve as his Parliamentary Private Secretary and, in May 2011, he was appointed to the position of Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise until his promotion to the Shadow Cabinet.
Umunna was promoted as Shadow Business Secretary on 7 October 2011, replacing John Denham, who announced his retirement from front-bench politics. Following his appointment, Umunna re-affirmed Labour's commitment to introducing a graduate tax in place of university tuition fees. In January 2012, Umunna joined Ed Miliband and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves in calling on PM David Cameron to block a £1.6m bonus for Stephen Hester, the chief executive officer of the publicly owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group. During 2013, Umunna led claims that the Government's valuation of the Royal Mail during its privatisation had effectively "shortchanged" the taxpayer, a view supported by the significant rise in the share price following the sale and the subsequent summoning of bankers to a parliamentary investigation.
In April 2013, Umunna's law firm was linked to favourable updates made on his Wikipedia page in 2007, which included a reference to him being tipped as the "British Barack Obama". In the same month, Umunna was criticised for comments he had made in his mid 20s on the exclusive social network ASmallWorld about the West End of London. Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris said the 2006 comments, describing people visiting nightclubs in the West End as "trash" and "c-list wannabes", showed a "lack of respect for the public"; Umunna stated that the comments were meant to have been "light-hearted in tone and context" but appreciated that "the choice of words used were not appropriate" and apologised for any offence.
Umunna was accused of hypocrisy for accepting a £20,000 gift from a gambling executive despite campaigning against the spread of betting shops in his constituency and promising new powers to limit them.
In early May 2014, Umunna raised concerns in Parliament and public over the proposed takeover of AstraZeneca, by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, on the grounds of ensuring British jobs and interests. Despite assurances from Pfizer, Umunna went on to publicly denounce the proposed takeover proclaiming that Pfizer's assurances were "not worth the paper they were written on". The takeover bid eventually fell through in late May 2014 after the AstraZeneca board rejected Pfizer's final offer.
In May 2014, Umunna criticised fellow Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham's report into possible methods of restricting the sale and advertising of alcohol, unhealthy foods, and tobacco. He was quoted as having said that such courses of action as outlined in the report would be seen to be "anti-business and interventionist".
Ummuna has argued for a British federal state on multiple occasions, and has said that progressives should not dismiss George Osborne's notion of a "Northern Powerhouse", arguing that greater devolution, federalisation of the UK Labour Party into individual Labour Parties representing each component nation of the UK, greater political autonomy for England in particular, more regional powers and "wholescale federalisation" are necessary to advance the Labour Party.
Leadership election and withdrawalEdit
Following Labour's defeat in the 2015 general election and the resignation of leader Ed Miliband, Umunna was identified as one of the potential candidates to take over as leader of the party. He called for Labour to target Conservatives and "aspirational, middle-class voters", saying that the party needs to be "on the side of those who are doing well." On 12 May, he announced his candidature for the Labour Party leadership election. Three days later, he withdrew from the contest, stating that he had been "uncomfortable" with "the added level of scrutiny that came with being a leadership candidate". On 26 May, he announced his endorsement of Liz Kendall, who was unsuccessful in her bid for the Labour leadership.
Return to the backbenchesEdit
In September 2015, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the Labour Party, Umunna announced his resignation from the Shadow Cabinet and returned to the backbenches, citing differences over the Brexit referendum and issues of collective ministerial responsibility.
Umunna supported "Remain" in the Brexit referendum. His constituency voted with the highest proportion of votes to remain, with 79.5%. Following the victory for the Leave campaign, Umunna proposed an amendment to the bill to trigger Article 50 calling upon the government to investigate spending £350 million a week on the NHS, which was defeated by the government. He subsequently voted for the unmodified bill to leave the EU, writing with Wes Streeting that "as democrats we must abide by the national result". In the 2017 general election campaign Umunna opposed a second referendum on Brexit.
Following his re-election in the 2017 general election, Umunna proposed a rebel amendment to the Queen's Speech calling upon the government to "rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal" and "set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market”. Three Labour frontbenchers were sacked for supporting the defeated amendment, which the Labour leadership argued conflicted with their manifesto commitment to end freedom of movement.
On 15 April 2018, Umunna attended the launch event of the People's Vote, a campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union. Umunna favours a second referendum on Brexit. Umunna wrote that the campaign to leave the EU lied during the campaign and also broke the law spending more money than was allowed. Umunna has stated that the British people now know the truth and should have a second say over whether the UK leaves the European Union. In July 2018, Umunna wrote, "If the proposals which the PM is pursuing feel unacceptable to the majority of the electorate, that says something. People voted to leave and to remain for very different reasons, but it’s nonsense to say that every single person who voted for Brexit in the EU referendum did so because they unanimously agreed on leaving the single market and the customs union, putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk, garnering no extra money for the NHS (contrary to what they were told) and potentially continuing years of austerity."
In August 2018, The Guardian reported that "Umunna and fellow Labour MP Chris Leslie are widely believed to be laying the groundwork for the creation of a new [political] party although both have denied this." In October 2018, it was announced that Umunna would serve as the chairman of a new centrist think tank called Progressive Centre UK. It was revealed that he would be earning £65,000 a year for his work on the advisory board.
The Independent GroupEdit
On 18 February 2019, Umunna and six other MPs (Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, and Ann Coffey) quit Labour in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership to form The Independent Group. The Independent Group named Umunna as its Spokesman on 28 February 2019.
- "Chuka Umunna". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Labour appoints fresh face to replace John Denham". Times Higher Education. 7 October 2011.
- "Debrett's 500". debretts.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
- "Labour MP Chuka Umunna apologises for comments on elite social network saying London's nightclubs are 'full of trash'". The Independent. London. 5 April 2013.
- "Statement by Chuka Umunna MP on leaving the Shadow Cabinet by mutual agreement". 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Parker, George (19 July 2013). "Chuka Umunna: Profile". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Bloss, Andrew (3 August 2012). "Friends fear Crystal Palace director was assassinated". Croydon Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
- Rose Troup Buchanan (9 May 2015). "Chuka Umunna: Could Shadow Business Secretary be the next Labour leader?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "The British Obama? No, Labour high-flyer Chuka's the black Blair". Daily Mail. 30 September 2012.
- Vonow, Brittany (17 July 2016). "Labour MP Chuka Umunna reveals wedding photo after marriage to lawyer fiancee". The Sun. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- Eaton, George (31 May 2017). "Chuka Umunna: "The only test for Labour is getting more seats than the Conservatives"". New Statesman. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- "Who can lead Labour? Chuka Umunna can". London Evening Standard. London. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
- "Chuka Umunna: Profile". The Financial Times (FT Magazine). London. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
- "Chuka Umunna Coy About Leadership Ambitions". Sky News. 1 October 2012.
- "Nottingham Trent alumnus Chuka Umunna announces he will run for Labour leadership". Nottingham Post. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
- "'Chuka Umunna: "I'm fed up with being in the shadows"'". Channel 4. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Walker, Tim (12 November 2011). "'Don't compare me to Obama' Is Chuka Umunna Britain's first black PM?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Umunna, Chuka (30 August 2007). "The duty to inspire". New Statesman.
- Umunna, Chuka (11 September 2006). "Ask the expert: Diversity in the City". Financial Times.
- Umunna, Chuka (15 April 2007). "TMP is born". The Multicultural Politic. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
- "Chuka wins race to become Labour's Streatham MP candidate". Streatham Guardian. 17 March 2008.
- "Streatham". The Guardian.
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (2 June 2010). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 02 Jun 2010 (pt 0015)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 16 August 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Conservative and Labour MPs take part in new Israel missions". The Jewish Chronicle. 11 October 2012.
- "Friends groups head to Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. 20 September 2012.
- "Streatham Parliamentary Constituency". BBC. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Chuka Umunna MP " One Nation Labour". Chuka.org.uk. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- "Chuka Umunna: My vision for One Nation Labour". Left Foot Forward. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- Chuka Umunna; Duncan Weldon (25 October 2010). "The man's not for turning". New Statesman. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Credit Rating Agencies: 16 Nov 2010: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- "New Clause 3 – Bank taxation: 8 Nov 2010: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- "Ed Miliband: Nominations". labour.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- "Treasury Committee – membership – UK Parliament". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- O'Hare, Sean (17 January 2011). "Labour MP urges Barclay's chief to reduce offshore subsidiaries". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Treannor, Jill (18 February 2011). "Barclays bank forced to admit it paid just £113m in corporation tax in 2009". The Guardian. London.
- "The London Hustings". London Evening Standard. April 2015.
- "Ed Miliband promotes fresh faces to Labour top team". BBC News. 7 October 2011.
- Syal, Rajeev (23 January 2012). "Ed Miliband calls for Stephen Hester to be denied a reported £1.6m RBS bonus". The Guardian. London.
- "Umunna: Taxpayer 'shortchanged' by Royal Mail sale". ITV News. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "MPs summon bankers to explain their valuations of Royal Mail". The Guardian. London. 8 November 2012.
- Kember, Billy (12 April 2013). "Flattering 'British Obama' edit on Wikipedia raises questions for MP Chuka Umunna". The Times (London). Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Hope, Christopher (7 April 2013). "Labour star Chuka Umunna admits his aides probably set up and edited his own Wikipedia page". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Morris, Nigel (6 August 2013). "Rising star of Labour and betting shop critic Chuka Umunna faces embarrassment after accepting £20,000 gift from gambling executive". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 06 May 2014 (pt 0001)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
- "Chuka Umunna: "Grave concern" over potential AstraZeneca deal". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
- "Pfizer assurances 'not worth paper they're written on'". ITV News. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Pfizer admits defeat on AstraZeneca bid". ITV News. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Prynne, Miranda (4 May 2014). "Labour plans for a crackdown on drinking, smoking and unhealthy food". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Mason, Rowena (17 October 2015). "Chuka Umunna warns Labour not to dismiss Osborne's northern powerhouse". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Brown, Graeme (30 October 2014). "Chuka Umunna calls for regional mayors in 'more federal' UK". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Bennett, Owen (22 July 2015). "Chuka Umunna To Call for an English Parliament As He Urges Labour To Modernise". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Umunna, Chuka (27 October 2015). "Britain needs wholesale federalisation – and Labour must lead the way". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Ganesh, Janan (8 May 2015). "Cameron can savour campaign success". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Chuka Umunna calls for Labour to target Conservative and "aspirational, middle-class voters"". New Statesman. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "Umunna: We failed to speak to 'aspirational middle-class'". ITV News. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "Chuka Umunna to run for Labour leader". BBC News. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Chuka Umunna withdraws Labour leader bid". BBC. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Why we are endorsing Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership". New Statesman. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Clarke-Billings, Lucy (13 September 2015). "Chuka Umunna steps down from Jeremy Corbyn shadow cabinet after 'mutual agreement'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Inside the Secret Plot to Reverse Brexit". Bloomberg.com. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Cowburn, Ashley (8 February 2017). "Brexiteers condemned for not backing £350m NHS amendment to EU withdrawal bill". The Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Brexit vote: Theresa May wins Commons approval to trigger Article 50 as Labour's Clive Lewis resigns". The Daily Telegraph. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Chuka Umunna and Wes Streeting: Why we Labour Remainers voted to trigger Article 50". i. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Stone, Jon (29 June 2017). "Labour split over Brexit as MPs back rebel amendment". The Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Jeremy Corbyn sacks three frontbenchers over single market vote". BBC News. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Brexit: 'People's Vote' campaign group launched". BBC News. 15 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
- "If Brexit negotiations have taught us anything, it's that our future should not be left to 650 politicians in London". The Independent. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- Stewart, Heather (20 August 2018). "Prospect of a new UK party grows as Brexit shifts ground at Westminster". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- Zeffman, Henry (19 October 2018). "Chuka Umunna paid £450 an hour to lead centrist think tank". The Times. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
- "Seven MPs leave Labour in Corbyn protest". BBC News. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
- Sabbagh, Dan (1 March 2019). "Chuka Umunna named spokesman for the Independent Group". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chuka Umunna.|
- Official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Article archive at The Guardian
- Chuka Umunna – Operation Black Vote profile
- Streatham Labour
- The Multicultural Politic (TMP) Online
- The rise of Chuka Umunna MP charted by Ethos Journal
- Chuka Umunna archive at The Guardian
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
| Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills