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James Wharton (politician)

James Stephen Wharton (born 16 February 1984) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for his home constituency of Stockton South from the 2010 general election, until the 2017 general election.[1] Wharton was appointed Minister for the Northern Powerhouse after his reelection in 2015 and moved to a ministerial position in the Department for International Development by Theresa May in 2016.

James Wharton
James Wharton 2016.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
In office
17 July 2016 – 8 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byNick Hurd
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
11 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPenny Mordaunt
Succeeded byAndrew Percy
Member of Parliament
for Stockton South
In office
6 May 2010 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byDari Taylor
Succeeded byPaul Williams
Personal details
James Stephen Wharton

(1984-02-16) 16 February 1984 (age 35)
Wolviston, County Durham, England
Political partyConservative
Alma materDurham University
University of Law
WebsiteOfficial website

Early lifeEdit

James Wharton grew up in Wolviston, County Durham.[2] He went to Yarm School and St Peter's School, York followed by Durham University where he studied Law and was a member of the Officers' Training Corps (OTC) (part of the Northumbrian UOTC).[3] He was 'Race Awareness Officer' at the Durham Students' Union for the 2003/2004 academic year.[4] He also became President of the Durham University Conservative Association during the same period.[5] Following his graduation from Durham he studied the Legal Practice Course at The College of Law in York and qualified as a solicitor with BHP Law, a firm in the Northeast.

Wharton joined the Conservative Party in his teens and was made chairman of his local association at 18.[3]

Parliamentary and political careerEdit

Education Secretary Michael Gove with James Wharton MP and students at Conyers School in Yarm.

Wharton defeated the sitting Labour MP Dari Taylor to be elected as MP for Stockton South by 332 votes in the 2010 general election, making him his party's youngest MP at the age of 26 as well as one of its most precariously-placed.[3]

From his election in May 2010 to November 2012, Wharton sat on the Public Accounts Committee.

After being elected MP for Stockton South, Wharton made stated his opposition to a development occurring in Preston Park. The plans, backed by Wharton's predecessor Dari Taylor, included relocating Egglescliffe School to the park. Wharton accused Stockton Borough Council of refusing to listen to the "democratic will of local people."[6]

After a developer withdrew its £750,000 investment to regenerate Thornaby Town Hall, Wharton called for the building to be given back to the Town Council. Originally the building did belong to the Town Council; however due to local government reorganisations, it was taken on by Stockton Borough Council. In 2012 the Town Council purchased the building from the borough council with the hope of enabling the building and the surrounding area to be restored.[7]

Wharton was one of 53 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government in favour of an amendment calling for a cut in the EU budget from 2014.[8] Wharton claimed that his decision was "right for the British people and right for the nation's interests."[9]

Ministerial careerEdit

Wharton was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse), the first minister dedicated to the government proposal.[10] However he rarely left London -a fact that was only released after a judge ruled the department had to comply with a freedom of information request -a process which took 26 months.[11] After Theresa May's appointment as Prime Minister in July 2016, Wharton was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development.

EU Referendum BillEdit

On 16 May 2013, Wharton came top of a ballot of backbench MPs which entitled him to introduce a Private Member's Bill during the 2013–14 parliamentary session. He chose to address the issue of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union by attempting to enshrine the Conservative Party Position into law by introducing the European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14. He faced criticism from opposition MPs for taking on the EU Referendum Bill as his Private Members Bill and it was suggested by them that the move may have been more advantageous to his political career than of direct benefit to his constituents.[12] Wharton himself had previously suggested that too much time was spent debating the issue of Europe, but has since argued that his Private Member's Bill was designed to put the issue to rest.[13]

After the Bill did not pass the House of Lords, Wharton blamed Labour and Liberal Democrat obstructionism.

Boris Johnson Leadership CampaignEdit

In 2019 Wharton took on the role of Campaign Manager for Boris Johnson in his successful bid to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party [14]

International affairsEdit

Wharton has made a number of visits to Sri Lanka, including as a delegate of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the charity International Alert and as a guest of the Sri Lankan Government, including four visits in nine months during 2012. Wharton denied allegations that he had become too close to the Sri Lankan government, saying that he had made friends on both sides of the ethnic divide and that the lack of a Sri Lankan community in his constituency helped him be "objective"[15]

Wharton is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. In 2014 Wharton denied allegations by a UKIP councillor that a letter he wrote to constituents on the subject of the conflict in Gaza had "been sent to those residents who may reasonably be expected to be Muslims, based only on their names".[16]

Trocabart grant controversyEdit

In 2010, Wharton assisted Conservative Town Councillor Jason Hadlow's company Trocabart secure £30,000 in aid from the former Regional Development Agency, One North East. The business failed and had now been closed. He claimed that his only motivation was to promote the growth of jobs in the Teesside area. There has been no evidence of any financial connection between Wharton and the firm.[17]

Parliamentary protocolEdit

Wharton was accused of a breach of Parliamentary protocol by attending a neighbouring constituency to take part in a photo call at the new Hitachi factory in Phil Wilson's Sedgefield constituency without advising Wilson in advance. Wharton acknowledged that he had driven minister Brandon Lewis to the site and been photographed there but said that he had not been there for the duration of the visit.[18] Speaker John Bercow said that MPs should observe the spirit of the rules.[19]


  1. ^ Lodge, Bethany (9 June 2017). "Who is Labour's Dr Paul Williams? Meet Stockton South's next MP". Teesside Gazette. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  2. ^ "James Wharton starts new life by sleeping on a pal's sofa". Gazette Live. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Kirkup, James (16 May 2013). "James Wharton MP: serious about Europe". Telegraph. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  4. ^ "DSU Student Handbook 2003/4" (PDF): 12. Retrieved 20 January 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Alumni". DUCA - Durham University Conservative Association. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Evening Gazette – Stockton South's new MP pledges to save Preston Park". Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Evening Gazette – Give Thornaby Town Hall to people says MP". Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  8. ^ Owen, Paul (1 November 2012). "The Guardian – Full list of Tory EU budget rebels". London. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  9. ^ James Wharton MP: The voters will punish MPs who oppose my EU referendum bill. Telegraph.
  10. ^ "MP James Wharton's handed 'northern powerhouse' ministerial role". BBC. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ Chris Stokel-Walker (27 September 2018). "£40k spent hiding how rarely northern powerhouse minister visited north". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  12. ^ South MP defends decision to seek EU Referendum. (17 May 2013).
  13. ^ EU referendum bill to be put forward by Tory MP | Politics.
  14. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Burrell, Ian (23 November 2012). "Four visits in nine months and statements in the Commons on the controversial Rajapaska regime: why does the 28-year-old MP for Stockton James Wharton care so much about Sri Lanka?". Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  16. ^ Mike, Blackburn (20 August 2014). "MP denies picking out people with 'Muslim' names for leaflet drop about Gaza conflict". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  17. ^ "Stockton Tory MP's bid to get cash for his pal".
  18. ^ Glover, Andrew (9 July 2014). "Chauffeur or gatecrasher? Westminster row as Phil Wilson accuses James Wharton of hijacking jobs photocall for THIS pic". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  19. ^ "Wilson and Wharton in House of Commons row". ITV. 8 July 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2017.

External linksEdit