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Richard Burgon MP (born 19 September 1980) is a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds East. He is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor.

Richard Burgon

Richard Burgon 2019.jpg
Official Photo
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
Shadow Lord Chancellor
Assumed office
27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
ShadowingMichael Gove
Elizabeth Truss
David Lidington
David Gauke
Robert Buckland
Preceded byThe Lord Falconer of Thoroton
Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Shadow City Minister
In office
16 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
ShadowingHarriet Baldwin
Simon Kirby
Preceded byCathy Jamieson
Succeeded byJonathan Reynolds
Member of Parliament
for Leeds East
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byGeorge Mudie
Majority12,752 (30.8%)
Personal details
Born (1980-09-19) 19 September 1980 (age 39)
Leeds, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
WebsiteOfficial website

Burgon studied English Literature at St John's College, Cambridge, where he was chair of Cambridge University Labour Club. After working as a trade union lawyer, he was elected as the MP for Leeds East at the 2015 general election.

He was appointed as Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury (City Minister) in September 2015 by new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Burgon was promoted to Shadow Justice Secretary in June 2016 following the organised mass resignations in protest against the leadership of Corbyn.

Early lifeEdit

Burgon was brought up in Leeds where his family have lived and worked for over a hundred years, since arriving as immigrants from Ireland.[1] He was educated at Cardinal Heenan Roman Catholic High School in Leeds.[2] As this school did not have a sixth form, he moved to St Aidan's and St John Fisher Associated Sixth Form in Harrogate[3] to complete his A Levels. He was the first person in his family to go to University,[2] studying English Literature at St John's College, Cambridge. He was chair of Cambridge University Labour Club.[4]

Burgon has said that growing up hearing about the 1984–85 Miners' Strike initiated his interest in politics.[2] His aunt was a member of Women Against Pit Closures[2] and was married to a striking miner.[5] He is the nephew of the former Labour MP Colin Burgon.[4] Tony Benn described meeting Burgon as a teenager in his diary, describing him as "a good socialist, [who] had written a thesis on 'Tony Benn's influence on the Labour Party'."[6]

Burgon attended the 15 February 2003 anti-war protests against George Bush and Tony Blair's planned invasion of Iraq.[7][8]

Burgon stood unsuccesssfully as one of the Labour candidates for the Wetherby ward on Leeds City Council in 2004.[9]

Legal careerEdit

Burgon qualified as a solicitor in 2006,[10] specialising in employment law for 10 years in the Employment Rights Unit at Thompsons Solicitors in Leeds.[11] Burgon has described how, as a solicitor, he "represented members from a wide range of trade unions in Employment Tribunal cases relating to, for example, unfair dismissal, detriment on trade union grounds, disability discrimination, sex discrimination, discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, unlawful deduction of wages and TUPE."[11] 

Parliamentary careerEdit

Burgon was elected as MP for Leeds East at the 2015 general election.[12][13] He was described by the Observer as one of "the stars of the [2015] intake".[14] Standing on the floor of the House of Commons in May 2015 he prefaced his mandatory oath of allegiance to Elizabeth II by expressing his support for constitutional change for an elected head of state: "As someone that believes that the head of state should be elected I make this oath in order to serve my constituents".[15]

Following the resignation of Ed Miliband as Labour leader, Burgon was one of 10 newly-elected Labour MPs who wrote an open letter calling for “a new leader who looks forward and will challenge an agenda of cuts, take on big business and will set out an alternative to austerity – not one which will draw back to the New Labour creed of the past”.[16] Along with Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John McDonnell, Burgon was one of 48 Labour MPs to defy the whip and vote against the 2015 Welfare Bill[17] explaining that he was voting "for the people of East Leeds and against Conservative attacks on welfare.”[18] He was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015.[19] Following Corbyn's victory in that campaign he appointed Burgon as Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury.[14] He nominated Jeremy Corbyn again as leader during the 2016 Labour leadership election.[20]

In an October 2015 Channel 4 News interview, Burgon admitted that, despite being Shadow Economic Secretary[21] to the Treasury for over a month, he was still yet to meet anyone from the city of London's finance and banking industry, nor could he predict the UK budget deficit for 2015.[22][23]

Burgon is secretary of the GMB Parliamentary Group. In this role, he ensures that issues of interest to GMB members are raised in the House of Commons.[24] Burgon is also a member of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union.[25] Burgon is the Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs,[26][27] and is regarded as being on the left of the Labour Party.[4] He has taken part in People's Assembly Against Austerity protests.[28] Burgon has called for more democracy within the Labour Party, saying “All parties need to be made more democratic. We’ve got a membership of well over half a million and I would like the members to have more say in our party’s policies and in the way the party’s run."[29]

Shadow Justice SecretaryEdit

Burgon was promoted to Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Lord Chancellor on 27 June 2016 following the organised mass resignations in protest against the leadership of Corbyn.[30]

Burgon has called for an end to privatisation in the justice system, labeling privatisation “an ideological experiment ... that has been a calamitous failure”,[31] and criticising the part-privatisation of probation by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling as "a costly failure that has left our communities less safe."[32] As Shadow Justice Secretary Burgon has raised concerns that sustained cuts to the prison service have led to a crisis, with prisons becoming increasingly dangerous for both staff and inmates.[33] He has called for a reversal of Ministry of Justice cuts and for emergency funding to recruit more prison officers and provide prison staff with new equipment, action to end overcrowding and for plans to build new private prisons to be scrapped.[34] At Labour Party Conference in 2017 Burgon announced that a Labour Government would "properly support law centres as engines of empowerment for working-class communities".[35]

In September 2017, the political commentator Iain Dale listed Burgon at Number 86 in 'The 100 Most Influential People on the Left'."[36]

Burgon believes cuts to legal aid are a false economy and deny people justice. Burgon said, "A lack of early legal advice can create unnecessary costs for the taxpayer as legal problems go to court when they could have been resolved earlier or spiral into costly social problems as people lose their homes or jobs ... legal aid cuts have deliberately weakened people's ability to challenge injustices and enforce their rights."[37] In the aftermath of the Windrush Scandal, Burgon criticised Conservative cuts to legal aid for immigration cases in Parliament, saying “The Windrush scandal is one of the cruellest examples of unaccountable state power targeting the vulnerable, the defenceless and the innocent that I can ever remember.”[38][39]

International issuesEdit

Burgon opposed military intervention and the bombing of Syria following the November 2015 Paris attacks by ISIS militants.[40] Burgon opposed the 2018 Missile Strikes Against Syria.[41] At a protest against the strikes on Parliament Square, he said “The Prime Minister says that bombing of Syria was, in her words, “right and legal”. I say it was wrong and immoral. It was wrong and immoral because it risks escalating a war that could involve up to a dozen countries. It was wrong because she never waited for the weapons inspectors to do their job. It was wrong because she never waited for Parliament to have its say.”[42]

Burgon is a vocal critic of Donald Trump, commenting during at the Together Against Trump demo during Trump's state visit to the UK that the US President “scapegoats migrants for all society’s ills while letting the powerful off the hook.”[43] He has warned against the consequences of diplomatic tensions between the US and Iran, commenting that Britain could be “dragged into a conflict” and stating that “we don’t want to end up being the messengers of Donald Trump”.[44]

Burgon has criticised human rights abuses by the Israeli Government in Palestine, and visited the West Bank in March 2016 as part of a group of Labour MPs. Of the visit, Burgon said “I was proud to visit the Occupied Territories of Palestine to show solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling for justice”.[45] On the BBC's Daily Politics show in March 2018 he was asked by Andrew Neil about claims that he had said at a 2016 Labour Party meeting "Zionism is the enemy of peace". Burgon responded "No and that was not my view" and "I didn't make those comments". Footage surfaced in April 2019 of Burgon speaking at an event in 2014 where he was recorded saying "The enemy of the Palestinian people is not the Jewish people. The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists, and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people",[46] which led to accusations that he lied when he denied that this was a view he held. Burgon said that he had not recalled using what he called a "simplistic" phrase that he would not now use.[47][48]

Burgon has previously expressed support for the PSUV regime in Venezuela and tweeted a congratulatory message to Nicolás Maduro when he became president in 2013. On an episode of Question Time in February 2019, Burgon refused to express regret for supporting Maduro following the outbreak of the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis.[49] He has also expressed support for the Communist Party regime in Cuba and spoke at a memorial event for Cuban President Fidel Castro following his death in 2016. During his speech, in which he praised Castro extensively, he stated that "Fidel Castro was a giant. A man of ideas. A man of action".[50]

Burgon has called climate change “the greatest ever market failure. It is a failure driven by capitalism’s endless focus on profits whatever the cost”.[51] and has expressed support for the School Strike for Climate.[52] He called Jeremy Corbyn's speech arguing for Parliament to declare a Climate Emergency "one of the most important ever made in Parliament".[53]

Libel case against The SunEdit

On 6 February 2019, Burgon won a libel case against The Sun newspaper after it falsely claimed that he 'delighted' in Nazi imagery.[54] The High Court ruled that the allegations made by The Sun were defamatory and untrue.[55] Burgon was awarded damages of £30,000, which he said would be spent supporting an apprenticeship in Leeds.[56]

Personal lifeEdit

He is a fan of heavy metal music.[57]


  1. ^ "About -". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Politics Q and A: With Richard Burgon, Leeds East MP". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  3. ^ "March 2016 Newsletter" (PDF). St John Fisher School. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Pickard, Jim (16 May 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn's reluctant man in the City -". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
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  6. ^ Benn, Tony (2002). Free At Last: Diaries 1991 – 2001. Hutchinson. p. 549. ISBN 0091793521.
  7. ^ BurgonThursday, Richard; August 30; 2018 (30 August 2018). "Socialists will not stop fighting for global peace, justice and equality". Morning Star. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  8. ^ MP, Richard Burgon (5 July 2016). "Me amongst millions on 15 February 2003. So many then alive who died during – and as a result of – invasion of". @RichardBurgon. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Local Elections Archive Project – 2004 – Leeds". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
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  12. ^ Simmons, Richard, Meet the lawyers standing for Parliament, Lawyer 2B, 10 April 2015
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  14. ^ a b Boffey, Daniel (15 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's world: his friends, supporters, mentors and influences". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Labour MP Richard Burgon Calls For End Of Monarchy Before Swearing Allegiance To The Queen". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  16. ^ Letters (15 May 2015). "Leading the way forward for Labour | Letters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  17. ^ editor, Patrick Wintour Political (21 July 2015). "Welfare bill: Labour in disarray as 48 MPs defy whips to vote no". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  18. ^ MP, Richard Burgon (20 July 2015). "I have just voted for the people of East #Leeds and against Conservative attacks on welfare". @RichardBurgon. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  19. ^ Bright, Sam (15 June 2015). "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Corbyn addresses crowd of up to 10,000 on eve of confidence vote". LabourList. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
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  22. ^ Newman, Cathy. "Why I went full throttle in my own car-crash interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  23. ^ Bartlett, Evan. "Labour MP endures four excruciating minutes in painful Channel 4 interview". The Independent. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
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  25. ^ "BFAWU Annual Conference 2015 Video Clips". Bakers. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  26. ^ Thursday; August 30; 2018 (30 August 2018). "Richard Burgon calls for mass attendance at Socialist Campaign Group rally". Morning Star. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  27. ^ Richard Burgon MP [@RichardBurgon] (12 October 2019). "Proud to be the Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, from which these three heroes kept the flag flying for socialism in the Labour Party for so long" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  28. ^ Ahmed, Faiza (25 November 2015). "Wrotests held against UK Chancellor's spending cuts". Press TV.
  29. ^ Deputy Political Editor, Sam Coates (3 July 2017). "Labour left puts moderates on notice". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Who's staying and who's going in the shadow cabinet?". BBC. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
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  32. ^ correspondent, Jamie Grierson Home affairs (2 May 2019). "Grayling probation changes 'took unacceptable risks' with public money". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Prisons: Violence – Hansard". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  34. ^ correspondent, Jamie Grierson Home affairs (23 September 2018). "Burgon to set out Labour's five demands to tackle prisons crisis". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  35. ^ Liverpool2018-09-24T08:12:00+01:00, Monidipa Fouzder in. "Labour: we will build more law centres". Law Gazette. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  36. ^ Dale, Iain (25 September 2017). "The 100 Most Influential People On The Left: Iain Dale's 2017 List". LBC. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  37. ^ Gilbert, Dominic (10 December 2018). "Legal aid advice network 'decimated' by funding cuts". BBC News.
  38. ^ "Topical Questions – Hansard". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  39. ^ "Windrush scandal 'among cruellest examples of unaccountable state power targeting the vulnerable', says Leeds MP Richard Burgon". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  40. ^ Burgon, Richard (30 November 2015). "Bombing Syria Is Not the Right Thing for the Country, the Wider Region or for Britain". HuffPost. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  41. ^ "Division 137, Military Action Overseas: Parliamentary Approval – Hansard". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  42. ^ Don't Bomb Syria protest in Parliament Square – 16/04/2018, retrieved 27 August 2019
  43. ^ Richard Burgon MP | Trump Demo, retrieved 27 August 2019
  44. ^ "Britain should not become U.S. 'messengers' over Iran – Labour's..." Reuters. 21 July 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  45. ^ "Richard Burgon MP: 'Palestine: Dignity In The Face Of Cruelty' – MAP News – Medical Aid for Palestinians". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  46. ^ editor, Rowena Mason Deputy political (16 April 2019). "Labour MP expresses regret over anti-Zionist comment in 2014 video". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  47. ^ "Labour MP Richard Burgon in row over Zionism comments". BBC News. 16 April 2019.
  48. ^ York, Chris (16 April 2019). "Richard Burgon Claimed He Never Said 'Zionism Is The Enemy Of Peace' – This Video Shows He Did". HuffPost.
  49. ^ York, Chris (1 February 2019). "Labour MP Richard Burgon Refuses To Say He Regrets Supporting Controversial Venezuelan Leader". HuffPost. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  50. ^ "Fidel Castro was a giant. A man of ideas. A man of action – Richard Burgon MP". Cuba Solidarity Campaign. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  51. ^ BurgonWednesday, Richard; April 3; 2019 (3 April 2019). "Climate change is a class issue". Morning Star. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  52. ^ MP, Richard Burgon (15 February 2019). "Inspiring to see so many young people protesting to demand action on climate change! Solidarity to those at the #SchoolStrike4Climate". @RichardBurgon. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  53. ^ MP, Richard Burgon (1 May 2019). "History will show Jeremy's speech arguing our Parliament should be the first in the world to declare a climate emergency to be one of the most important ever made in Parliament. Capitalism has brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe. Only urgent action can prevent that". @RichardBurgon. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  54. ^ Waterson, Jim (6 February 2019). "Labour MP Richard Burgon wins 'Nazi' libel case against Sun". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  55. ^ "Richard Burgon MP -v- News Group Newspapers | Carter-Ruck". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  56. ^ Waterson, Jim (6 February 2019). "Labour MP Richard Burgon wins 'Nazi' libel case against Sun". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  57. ^ "We Interviewed the Biggest Metalhead in British Politics". 13 July 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2019.

External linksEdit