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Matthew Pennycook

Matthew Thomas Pennycook (born 29 October 1982) is a British Labour Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Greenwich and Woolwich since May 2015.[2]

Matthew Pennycook
Official portrait of Matthew Pennycook crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Greenwich and Woolwich
In office
8 May 2015 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byNick Raynsford
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority20,714 (39.0%)
Personal details
Matthew Thomas Pennycook[1]

(1982-10-29) 29 October 1982 (age 37)
Hammersmith, London, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materLondon School of Economics
Balliol College, Oxford

Early lifeEdit

Pennycook born on 29 October 1982,[3] and was raised in a single-parent family in South London. He was educated at Beverley Boys Secondary School, a comprehensive school in New Malden, London. He joined the Labour Party at the age of nineteen.[4]

Pennycook studied History and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, graduating with a first-class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 2005.[3] He was awarded the CS MacTaggart Scholarship Prize for best overall degree performance in any subject.[5] He subsequently won a scholarship to attend Balliol College, Oxford, studying for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in International Relations.

Early careerEdit

While still a student, he volunteered with the Child Poverty Action Group and worked with then-Chief Executive, Kate Green, who became a Labour MP. Before becoming an MP himself, Pennycook worked for a number of charitable and voluntary organisations including at the Fair Pay Network and the Resolution Foundation where he led on issues relating to welfare reform, low pay and working poverty.

Pennycook was a Labour councillor for Greenwich West from 2010–2015, resigning in March 2015 just before the general election.[6] He also served as a trustee of Greenwich Housing Rights and was a school governor at James Wolfe Primary School in West Greenwich. He has written multiple articles for The Guardian about the need for a living wage in the UK and has served on the Living Wage Foundation's advisory board.[7]

Parliamentary careerEdit

In November 2013, he was selected as the official Labour Party candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich,[8] as the sitting MP, Nick Raynsford was retiring.

In May 2015, he retained the seat for Labour with a majority of 11,946 votes and a 52.2% share of the vote on a turnout of 63.7%. This was a 3% increase on Nick Raynsford's previous majority five years earlier.[9] He gave his maiden speech in the House of Commons during a debate on the economy on 4 June 2015.[10]

In the leadership election following Labour's defeat at the 2015 general election, Pennycook endorsed Yvette Cooper and for the deputy leadership his preference was for Tom Watson. He supported Sadiq Khan in the campaign for selection of the candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral election.

In July 2015, Pennycook became a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Minister of State for Housing, John Healey MP from 2015, resigning from the position in June 2016.

He was one of 161 Labour MPs who backed Owen Smith in his unsuccessful Labour Party leadership campaign to replace Jeremy Corbyn in September 2016.[11]

Pennycook campaigned in favour of a "Remain" vote for the 2016 referendum on EU membership[12] and his Greenwich and Woolwich constituency voted 64% to remain.[13] After the referendum results were announced, Pennycook was appointed one of the Shadow Ministers for Brexit in October 2016,[14] and, in accordance with the Labour Party whip, voted for the Bill to trigger Article 50.[15][16] In September 2019, he resigned as shadow Brexit minister in order to campaign actively in favour of holding a second referendum and unequivocally for the UK to stay in the EU.[17]


Pennycook is concerned about newly qualified teachers leaving the profession. Over a quarter of teachers who started working in London schools in 2015 had left by November 2017 and more than a third of teachers starting work in London now leave before four years have passed. Pennycook stated, “The crisis in teacher retention in London did not begin the day before yesterday, yet this Tory government still has no coherent plan to address the problem and no appetite to get to grips with the underlying drivers – workload, stagnant pay, rising living costs and a lack of genuinely affordable housing to rent and buy – that lie behind this worrying trend.”[18]


  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11776.
  2. ^ "Greenwich & Woolwich parliamentary constituency – Election 2015 – BBC News". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Pennycook, Matthew Thomas". Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.283983. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ "Matthew Pennycook – The Labour Party". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  5. ^ "About LSE" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Pennycook resigns as councillor ahead of General Election". 16 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Matthew Pennycook". The Guardian. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Matthew Pennycook".
  9. ^ "UK Polling Report". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  10. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 04 Jun 2015 (pt 0003)". Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith | LabourList". LabourList | Labour's biggest independent grassroots e-network. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  12. ^ "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPS stand". BBC News. 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ Rosenbaum, Martin (6 February 2017). "Local voting figures shed new light on EU referendum". BBC News.
  14. ^ "Labour's Shadow Frontbench appointments". Labour Press. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Matthew Pennycook MP, Greenwich and Woolwich - TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Votes on motion "That the Bill be now read the Third time"". Hansard. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Shadow Brexit Minister quits to 'focus efforts' on Remain campaigning". Evening Standard. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  18. ^ Teacher crisis hits London as nearly half quit within five years The Guardian

External linksEdit