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Sir Hugo George William Swire KCMG (born 30 November 1959) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Devon from 2001 until 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, he has had several ministerial roles, most recently as Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a role he held until July 2016.[1] Swire is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.[2] He announced in September 2019 that he had no intention of standing for re-election as an MP.[3]

Sir Hugo Swire

Official portrait of Sir Hugo Swire crop 2.jpg
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
4 September 2012 – 15 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJeremy Browne
Succeeded byAlan Duncan
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPaul Goggins
Succeeded byMike Penning
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
8 December 2005 – 2 July 2007
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byTheresa May
Succeeded byJeremy Hunt
Shadow Minister for the Olympics
In office
8 December 2005 – 2 July 2007
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJeremy Hunt
Member of Parliament
for East Devon
In office
7 June 2001 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byPeter Emery
Succeeded byTBD
Personal details
Born (1959-11-30) 30 November 1959 (age 59)
Marylebone, London, England
Political partyConservative
Sasha Nott (m. 1996)
EducationEton College
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1980-1983
UnitGrenadier Guards

Early life and educationEdit

Swire was born on 30 November 1959. His great-great-great-grandfather, John Swire (b. 1793), was the founder of the Liverpool textile trading business that later became the Swire Group, the multi-billion USD conglomerate based in Hong Kong. He is the brother of Sophia Swire.

Swire was privately educated at St. Aubyns School, a preparatory school in Rottingdean, East Sussex and at Eton College. He studied at the University of St Andrews for a year before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.


Swire served in the Grenadier Guards for three years, between 1980-1983,[4][5] before working as a financial consultant. He became the first Head of Development for the National Gallery in 1988, before working at the auction house Sotheby's from 1992, becoming a Director in 1996. He held this role when standing for election in 2001.[6][7]

Swire was non-executive chairman of Photo-Me International[8] prior to joining the Government.

Member of ParliamentEdit

He contested Greenock and Inverclyde in 1997, finishing fourth. In 2001 he won the seat of East Devon. Two years after his election to Parliament, he became an Opposition whip. In 2004, he was promoted to become Shadow Culture Minister. He joined the Shadow Cabinet on 8 December 2005, when new leader David Cameron appointed him Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Swire opens the 12th UK-Japan Politico-Military Talks in 2013.

Swire was sacked in the July 2007 Conservative re-shuffle for suggesting his party would scrap free museum entry.[9][10][11] Swire returned to the backbenches and amongst other roles became Hon. Secretary of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Minister of State for Northern IrelandEdit

In May 2010 he was appointed Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the newly elected Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron.[12]

In October 2011, Swire, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, boycotted a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly held at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, as the hotel had been the scene of the 1984 IRA attack on the Conservative party leadership.[13]

In December 2011, Swire criticised a government agency, the Rural Payments Agency, based at Clyst St Mary in his East Devon constituency, for allegedly banning Christmas decorations from their offices.[14]

Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth AffairsEdit

Swire was made Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 4 September 2012. On 6 September 2013, Swire sent letters to the South China Morning Post and Ming Pao, commenting on the universal suffrage of Hong Kong SAR, emphasising the importance of democracy. Moreover, he added that he would provide any support towards the establishment of universal suffrage in Hong Kong.[citation needed]

In January 2015, Hong Kong’s leaders caused diplomatic ‘outrage’ after declining to meet him to discuss political reform. Swire believed the Chinese government feared it would cause pro-democracy unrest, though the purpose of the visit was also to support trade.[15] Swire resigned from his ministerial post on 15 July 2016 following the sacking of several other ministers who were considered to be close to David Cameron. He had tweeted: "Not a good time to be a Cameroon. The tumbrils are rolling again!"[16]

Swire was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2016 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours.[17]

Conservative Middle East CouncilEdit

Swire became Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) in September 2016, having previously been a member of the group. In June 2016, he accepted a donation of £10,000 from the wife of a billionaire with links to the leadership of Saudi Arabia. The journalist Peter Oborne has criticised the direction of CMEC away from its earlier focus on Palestine, to greater interest on the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.[18]


Various aspects of Swire's parliamentary expenses have generated adverse comments from critics. He was criticised for having the joint highest Additional Cost Allowance in the country in 2002/03, but argued that it was legal and that he had not financially benefited from the arrangement as he only rented the property in his constituency that the bulk of the costs related to.[19] He was featured in articles on questionable expenses claims in The Telegraph,[20] The Guardian[21] and BBC website[22] in 2009, with attention made to his claims for a designer laptop case, an opera booklet and a satellite navigation system. Swire argued that the claims were sound and that he had not been asked to pay any of them back.[23]

Although Parliament has banned new MPs from employing family members since June 2017, Swire continues to employ his wife as his Senior Researcher/Parliamentary Assistant.[citation needed] He stated in 2009 that family members could add value and that his wife has an 'extraordinary knowledge of the constituency having worked for me'.[24]


Swire correctly predicted in November 2016 that Donald Trump would win the election for President of the United States of America.[25]

Although a eurosceptic, Swire supported the official position of his party and campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union before the EU membership referendum on 23 June 2016.[26] Since the result was announced, Swire has continued to support the party leadership and now advocates leaving the European Union.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

Swire married Alexandra (Sasha) Nott, the daughter of Sir John Nott (former Conservative Secretary of State for Defence during the Falklands War) in December 1996 in Kensington. The couple have two daughters (born May 1997 and August 2001). His brothers-in-law include Julian Nott. He is distantly related to Australian musician Rob Swire.


  1. ^ "The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Advisory Council".
  3. ^ Smith, Colleen (19 September 2019). "Independent county councillor backed to win general election". Express and Echo.
  4. ^ "No. 48366". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1980. p. 15620.
  5. ^ "No. 49455". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 August 1983. p. 11159.
  6. ^ "Hugo Swire". BBC. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  7. ^ "The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP". MP website. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Hugo Swire MP clicks as new head of Photo-Me". Daily Telegraph. London. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Shadow Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  10. ^ Jones, George; Carlin, Brendan (29 June 2007). "Etonians face axe in shadow Cabinet shake-up". London: BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  11. ^ "We'll let museums charge admission again, say Tories". London: BBC. 17 June 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  12. ^ [1] Archived 17 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Satherley, Jessica (25 October 2011). "Ministers boycott Irish summit". Daily Mail. London.
  14. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (22 December 2011). "Scrooge civil service bosses ban Christmas decorations". Daily Mail. London.
  15. ^ Bryan Harris and Danny Lee (25 January 2015). "British diplomats fuming over Hong Kong's snub of Hugo Swire". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  16. ^ "More heads roll in next round of Theresa May's 'ruthless' reshuffle". The Guardian. 16 July 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  17. ^ "No. 61678". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 August 2016. p. RH3.
  18. ^ "Why is the Conservative Party ignoring Palestine?". Middle East Eye. 6 February 2018.
  19. ^ "MP Hugo talks candidly to Sidmouth Herald over expenses". Sidmouth Herald. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  20. ^ "MPs' expenses: 25 most ludicrous claims". The Telegraph. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  21. ^ "MPs' expenses: critics attack censorship as redactions black out documents". The Guardian. 19 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  22. ^ "MP pays back money for laptop bag". BBC. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  23. ^ "MP pays back money for laptop bag". BBC. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  24. ^ "MP Hugo talks candidly to Sidmouth Herald over expenses". Sidmouth Herald. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Former British foreign minister predicts Donald Trump will win election". The Guardian. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  26. ^ "The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  27. ^ "MPs debate Brexit deal ahead of vote". BBC News.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Emery
Member of Parliament
for East Devon

Succeeded by
To be elected
Political offices
Preceded by
Theresa May
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hunt
New office Shadow Minister for the Olympics
Preceded by
Jeremy Browne
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Alan Duncan