Sir Bernard Jenkin

Member of Parliament for Harwich and North Essex



Sir Bernard Jenkin is the chair of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee as well as the Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex. Jenkin was educated at Highgate School and William Ellis School and read English Literature at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. At university, he served as president of the Cambridge Union Society in 1982. After graduating, he worked for Ford and then for private equity firm 3i. Between 1992 and 1995, he was an advisor to Legal & General Group plc. In the 1987 general election, Jenkin contested Glasgow Central but was unsuccessful. At the following election in 1992, he fought Colchester North and was elected, holding the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of 16,402. He has remained in the House of Commons ever since. In his first parliament, Jenkin sat on the social security committee and notably became one of the Maastricht Rebels who opposed the Major government’s signing of the Maastricht Treaty. After being re-elected in 1997 to the successor seat of North Essex, Jenkin held a range of shadow positions including shadow transport minister and later shadow defence secretary. Under Michael Howard’s leadership of the Conservatives, he served as shadow regions secretary from 2003 to 2005. For a year from 2005, he was deputy chair of the Conservative Party. In 2006, Jenkin joined the defence committee and two years later the committee on arms export controls. He was re-elected at the 2010 general election for the renamed seat of Harwich and North Essex and soon became chair of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee. Jenkin voted Leave in the 2016 referendum and is a supporter of the Leave Means Leave campaigning group. He voted against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement on all three occasions before supporting Boris Johnson in the summer leadership election.

Hot Seat

Most memorable speech you have witnessed in the Chamber?

Tony Blair as PM proposing the motion that the UK should support the invasion of Iraq.

Best media moment of your career?

When I asked the Europe Minister, after he had set out David Cameron’s EU negotiating position in the Autumn of 2015: “Is that it? Is that the sum total of the government’s position in this renegotiation?” and it went viral.

How do you like to unwind?

Singing (solo or in choirs); listening to music; running, sailing, the countryside, chopping firewood, carpentry, DIY, my family and friends, food, wine and genuine conversation about real life.

Financial Interests

Official parliamentary photograph taken by Chris McAndrew, 2017, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0