Simon Clarke
Official portrait, 2021
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
In office
6 September 2022 – 25 October 2022
Prime MinisterLiz Truss
Preceded byGreg Clark
Succeeded byMichael Gove
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
15 September 2021 – 6 September 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded bySteve Barclay
Succeeded byChris Philp
Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government
In office
13 February 2020 – 8 September 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byJake Berry
Succeeded byLuke Hall
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
In office
27 July 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byRobert Jenrick
Succeeded byKemi Badenoch
Member of Parliament
for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
Assumed office
8 June 2017
Preceded byTom Blenkinsop
Majority11,626 (24.3%)
Personal details
Born (1984-09-28) 28 September 1984 (age 39)
Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England
Political partyConservative
EducationRed House School
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford

Sir Simon Richard Clarke[1][2] (born 28 September 1984) is a British politician who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland since 2017. A member of the Conservative Party, he briefly served as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities from September to October 2022 and Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2021 to 2022.

Following Boris Johnson's appointment as Prime Minister, Clarke was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. He served as Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government from February to September 2020. In the 2021 cabinet reshuffle he was returned to Government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, becoming the youngest cabinet minister in that ministry. After Johnson resigned in 2022, Clarke supported Liz Truss's bid to become Conservative leader. Following Truss's appointment as Prime Minister, he was appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, a post he held for 49 days until his resignation prior to the accession of Rishi Sunak to the Prime Ministership.

Early life

Clarke was born in University Hospital of North Tees and grew up in the suburb of Marton, Middlesbrough. His parents Richard and Jill Clarke were a solicitor and stay-at-home mother.[3][4] He was privately educated at Red House School in Norton,[5] before going on to study History at University College, Oxford. At university, he was chairman of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 2006.[6]

Political career

Clarke unsuccessfully stood as the Conservative candidate for the Middlesbrough constituency at the 2015 general election, coming third of five candidates with 16.5%, a swing against his party of 2.3%.[7] Whilst being employed as a Policy Advisor to the Conservative MP Graham Stuart, he was selected as the candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in April 2017.[8] He was elected at the 2017 general election,[4] winning the seat from Labour after the sitting MP Tom Blenkinsop stood down.[9]

Clarke has served on the Treasury Committee, the Treasury Sub-Committee and the Regulatory Reform Committee.[10] He clashed with both the then-Labour MP for Redcar, Anna Turley and the Labour-run Middlesbrough Council over plans for transport improvements in the local area,[11][12] while he argued against his own party's opposition to onshore windfarms.[13]

On 12 June 2019 the UK Government amended the Climate Change Act 2008 by introducing a target for a 100% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) in the UK by 2050.[14] At the forefront of this change in policy was Clarke, who, in September 2018, organised a letter signed by more than 130 cross-party MPs which indicated their support for net zero emissions and stressed opportunities for UK businesses, including in the North East.[15][16]

On 27 July 2019 he was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury in Boris Johnson's government.[17] On 13 February 2020 he was appointed Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government. Clarke has been an advocate of regeneration both locally and nationally. In his role, he said that towns and coastal communities had not shared the benefits of the economic growth experienced in other parts of the UK.[18] He said he supported regenerative measures undertaken by private initiatives in his constituency such as the reopening and expanding of Teesside International Airport, alongside the Tees Valley Mayor's plans to redevelop the SSI steelworks site.[19][20][21]

At the 2019 general election Clarke was re-elected, increasing his share of the vote to 58.8% and increasing his majority to 11,626.[22]

In September 2020 Clarke resigned from his ministerial role, stating that his resignation was due to personal reasons.[23][24]

In a cabinet reshuffle on 15 September 2021, Clarke succeeded Steve Barclay in the Cabinet-attending post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury.[25]

On 6 September 2022, Clarke was appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.[26] He resigned from the role on 25 October 2022, prior to the accession of Rishi Sunak to the Premiership.

In December 2022, Clarke made an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill to ease planning rules for onshore wind farms in England which was signed by 34 Conservative MPs—including former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. As a result of a threatened rebellion led by Clarke, the Government said that a rule requiring new turbines to be built on pre-designated land would be rewritten.[27]

Political views

Clarke is a strong supporter of Brexit, having voted for the UK to leave the European Union, and is a supporter of the Eurosceptic campaign Leave Means Leave.[28] He called the new Brexit deal secured by Boris Johnson "marvellous news", stating that the "anti-democratic backstop" had been abolished.[29] He was critical of the negotiating approach taken by Theresa May[30] and had submitted a letter for a vote of no confidence in her leadership.[31]

On 6 June 2022, after a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Boris Johnson was called, Clarke announced that he would be supporting the Prime Minister, praising his leadership on Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, adding: "He has won every major election he has fought because he is a politician with the capacity both to inspire and to deliver."[32]

Writing in The Telegraph on 23 January 2024, Clarke called for Sunak to be replaced. Citing the opinion polling for the upcoming general election, Clarke stated that "Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred".[33]

Personal life

Clarke lives in the town of Guisborough, Teesside; and London.

His height, 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m), makes him Britain's second-tallest MP and earned him the nickname "Stilts" at school.[34]

Prior to the 2021 autumn budget, Clarke said he would not take part in the traditional publicity photo with the Chancellor of the Exchequer as he suffers from agoraphobia.[35]

Honours

References

  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. pp. 11783–4.
  2. ^ "Boris Johnson resignation honours list published". BBC News. 9 June 2023. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  3. ^ "About Simon Clarke". Simon Clarke. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Ian (9 June 2017). "Who is Simon Clarke? Teesside Tory MP who loves George Boateng and was nicknamed 'Stilts' at school". Teesside Live. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Clarke, Simon Richard". Who's Who. Vol. 2018 (February 2018 online ed.). A & C Black. Retrieved 13 February 2018. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ "Past Presidents". Oxford University Conservative Association. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  7. ^ "Election 2017: Middlesbrough". BBC. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Ford is selected in Chelmsford. Bennett withdraws from Saffron Walden. Latest candidate selection news". Conservative Home. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  9. ^ Hetherington, Graeme (9 June 2017). "Labour seat goes blue as Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland elects Conservative Simon Clarke". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Parliamentary career for Mr Simon Clarke". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  11. ^ Collinson, Felicity (13 February 2018). "War of words over Teesside new trains snub: 'We're getting hand-me-downs' says one MP". Teesside Live. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  12. ^ Brown, Mike (23 July 2017). "Tory MP Simon Clarke has put the debate back on the agenda, but Middlesbrough Council says it's always working on solutions". Teesside Live. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  13. ^ Clarke, Simon (24 September 2017). "Simon Clarke: The case for lifting the national bar on onshore wind". Conservative Home. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Net zero in the UK". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  15. ^ "Go For Zero". The Climate Coalition. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  16. ^ "Net Zero: how government can meet its climate change target" (PDF). instituteforgovernment.org.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  17. ^ Busby, Mattha (27 July 2019). "Nadine Dorries joins Department of Health and Social Care". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Re-Thinking Local: A Vision For The Future – Simon Clarke MP | 3 July 2020". Local Government Association. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  19. ^ "Delivering Jobs and Growth". Simon Clarke MP. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  20. ^ Hugill, Steven (10 January 2020). "Mayor reiterates vow to return steelmaking to Teesside after £71 million Government support". North East Times. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  21. ^ "Teesside Airport: A New Beginning". Simon Clarke MP. 16 March 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  22. ^ "Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  23. ^ "MP Simon Clarke resigns from government for personal reasons". BBC News. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  24. ^ Calkin, Sarah (9 September 2020). "The mysterious resignation of Simon Clarke". Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  25. ^ UK Prime Minister [@10DowningStreet] (15 September 2021). "Simon Clarke MP @SimonClarkeMP has been appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury @HMTreasury He will attend Cabinet. #Reshuffle" (Tweet). Retrieved 18 September 2021 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Hill, Jessica (6 September 2022). "Simon Clarke confirmed as levelling up secretary". Local Government Chronicle. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  27. ^ "Onshore wind rules to be relaxed after Tory revolt". BBC News. 6 December 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  28. ^ "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  29. ^ Gullon, Nick (1 January 1970). "North-East MPs react to Boris Johnson's Brexit deal". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  30. ^ Gullon, Nick. "North-East MPs react to Theresa May departure – with one backing Boris Johnson to be PM". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  31. ^ Breen, Julia. "Tory MP delivers damning verdict on Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  32. ^ Larman, Connor (6 June 2022). "Boris Johnson vote of no confidence: Simon Clarke and Jacob Young defend Prime Minister". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  33. ^ Clarke, Simon (23 January 2024). "Replace Sunak or face decade of decline under Starmer". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  34. ^ Johnson, Ian (9 June 2017). "Simon Clarke: The 6ft 7ins new Tory MP who loves George Boateng". Teesside Live. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  35. ^ "Treasury minister skips pre-budget photo citing agoraphobia". The Guardian. 27 October 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  36. ^ "ORDERS APPROVED AND BUSINESS TRANSACTED AT THE PRIVY COUNCIL HELD BY THE QUEEN AT BALMORAL ON 20TH SEPTEMBER 2021" (PDF). Privy Council Office. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Resignation Honours 2023" (PDF). GOV.UK. 9 June 2023. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  38. ^ "No. 64120". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 July 2023. p. 14502.