John Penrose

John Penrose
Minister for Constitutional Reform
In office
11 May 2015  17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sam Gyimah (the Constitution)
Succeeded by Chris Skidmore (the Constitution)
Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
In office
8 February 2014  17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Karen Bradley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Tourism and Heritage
In office
13 May 2010  4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Margaret Hodge
Succeeded by Office Dissolved
Member of Parliament
for Weston-super-Mare
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Brian Cotter
Majority 11,544 (20.4%)
Personal details
Born (1964-06-22) 22 June 1964
Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Dido Harding, Baroness Harding
Alma mater Downing College, Cambridge; Columbia University

John David Penrose (born 22 June 1964) is the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Weston-super-Mare who was first elected in 2005. He previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and more recently as Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury.[1]

Early life and career

Penrose was born in Sudbury, Suffolk on the 22 June 1964. He was privately educated at Ipswich School and studied at Downing College, Cambridge, receiving a BA in Law in 1986. He received an MBA from Columbia University in 1991.

He was a Bank Trading Floor Risk Manager at J. P. Morgan from 1986–90, then a management consultant at McKinsey & Company from 1992–94. He was Commercial Director of the Academic Books Division at Thomson Publishing in Andover from 1995–96, then Managing Director of Schools Book Publishing at Longman (Pearson plc), publishing school textbooks for the UK and parts of Africa. He was chairman of Logotron Ltd in Cambridge. (also owned by Pearson). In 1998, he was in charge of research at the Bow Group - a UK-based independent think tank, promoting conservative opinion internationally.

Parliamentary career

Penrose unsuccessfully contested the seat of Ealing Southall in the 1997 general election, before unsuccessfully contesting the seat of Weston-super-Mare in 2001. He was elected in the same seat in the 2005 general election, defeating the Liberal Democrat Brian Cotter and he retained his seat in the 2010 general election, 2015 general election and 2017 general election. He served on the Work and Pensions Committee from July 2005 to January 2009, and in 2006 was appointed joint chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Further Education and Lifelong Learning. In 2006 he was also appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Letwin MP and in 2009 was promoted to Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

After his re-election in 2010 and the formation of the coalition government, Penrose served as the Tourism & Heritage Minister from 2010 to 2012, covering the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During his tenure, the Tourism industry was one of the fastest-growing sectors of Britain’s economy, and he also wrote and implemented the Government’s Tourism Strategy; began a process to turn English Heritage’s properties, such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel and many others, into a second National Trust; removed licences on live entertainment; sold the Tote bookmaker; protected the Lloyd's of London building with a ‘Grade 1’ listing amongst other activity. Penrose returned to the backbenches in 2012. Apart from his constituency campaigns (described above) he wrote a paper (We Deserve Better) on how to give people a better deal on their utilities (gas, water, electricity etc.). Less than a year later the Prime Minister invited Penrose back to a Government role with a new position as Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), before he was promoted in February 2014 as one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury (Whip). In May 2015 he became Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), a role he held until July 2016.[2]

He was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[3] Since the result was announced, Penrose has continued to support the official position of his party and now advocates leaving the European Union. He has never rebelled against the Government in the current Parliament. [4]

Outside Parliament

Penrose is a Patron of the South West branch of domestic violence charity the ManKind Initiative.[5] He is also President of Weston-super-Mare's YMCA, President of The Abbeyfield Weston-super-Mare Society, President of the League of Friends of the Weston-super-Mare Hospital, a governor of Weston College, a trustee of North Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau, and President of Weston-super-Mare and District Constitutional Club.[6]

Personal life

Penrose met the Hon. Dido (Diana) Harding, only daughter of Lord Harding, while both worked at McKinsey. The couple married in October 1995, and have two daughters. Penrose splits his time between his home in the Weston-super-Mare constituency and a flat in London.[7] Harding is the former Chief Executive of TalkTalk Group,[8] and owns the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse, Cool Dawn.[9][10]

In 2016, Penrose, who lives in Winscombe, North Somerset, caused some local controversy over the design of a proposed personal swimming pool complex at his home. Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council formally objected to the 'ugly and massive' design on the grounds it would harm local views. The Daily Telegraph reported that this was noteworthy as Penrose had argued in 2013, in a previous ministerial role, for greater protection of historic views, suggesting some of the finest urban views in the country should be listed like buildings. Ultimately, the district council approved the planning application and accepted the argument that an originally planned grass roof was not possible. [11]


  1. "About - Department for Culture, Media & Sport - GOV.UK". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  2. "John Penrose MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  3. Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  4. "They Work For You". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  5. "About us". Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  6. "John Penrose MP - Your local man in Westminster". Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  7. "John Penrose". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  9. Dido Harding (8 Mar 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6.
  10. "List of Public Companies Worldwide, Letter - Businessweek - Businessweek". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. "Minister who called for protection of heritage views, builds 'hideous' pool next to listed church". 22 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brian Cotter
Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare
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