Richard Harrington (politician)

Richard Irwin Harrington[2] (born 4 November 1957)[3] is a British politician, businessman, and former property developer and hotelier.[4] From the 2010 general election until the 2019 general election he was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Watford. He was the Minister for Business and Industry from June 2017 to March 2019. Harrington had the Conservative whip removed on 3 September 2019, but on 29 October he was one of ten MPs to have it restored.[5]

Richard Harrington
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry
In office
14 June 2017  25 March 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJesse Norman
Succeeded byAndrew Stephenson
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Pensions
In office
17 July 2016  14 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byThe Baroness Altmann
Succeeded byGuy Opperman
Under Secretary of State for Syrian Refugees
In office
14 September 2015  17 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished[1]
Member of Parliament
for Watford
In office
6 May 2010  6 November 2019
Preceded byClaire Ward
Succeeded byDean Russell
Personal details
Born (1957-11-04) 4 November 1957
Leeds, England, UK
Political partyConservative (2010–2019, 2019–present)
Independent (2019)
Alma materKeble College, Oxford
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life

Harrington was born on 4 November 1957 in Leeds to a British Jewish family.[6] His father sold clothes from a market stall. He was privately educated at Leeds Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford University, where he studied Jurisprudence. While at Oxford, he sat on the Executive Board of the Federation of Conservative Students and was a member of the National Union Executive of the Party.[7] He began his career in business with a graduate scheme at the John Lewis Partnership, where he eventually became the assistant to the managing director of Waitrose; this included a period working at Trewins Department Store in Watford.[7]


In 1983, he founded Harvington Properties, a property development company, with two friends from university. In 1990, Harrington became a shareholder and managing director of LSI Leisure Syndicates International a TIMESHARE company active in the development, sales and management of holiday resorts in both the UK and Europe. The company was sold to a listed American company (II Interval International) at the end of the decade. Harrington stayed on as chairman until 2000. When he left, the company employed more than 2,000 people, most in cold call centres in the UK. [7] Other notable work in property development included the restoration of one of Glasgow’s most famous hotels, One Devonshire Gardens.[4]

Harrington supports a range of charities and has been a trustee of the Variety Club Children's Society.[8] He is also trustee of several charities in Watford.[7]


Harrington is a long-time member of the Conservative Party, in which he has played an active part since 1983, and long-time supporter of Kenneth Clarke.[9] Until March 2010, he was chairman of the Executive Board of the Conservative Friends of Israel, which, during his tenure, had quadrupled in size financially.[7] He was appointed a treasurer of the Conservative Party in 2008, the role in which he launched the Number 10 Club with Sir John Major.[10]

Harrington won the Watford seat from Claire Ward at the 2010 general election with a majority of 1,425 votes. He was the first of the new Conservative MPs elected at the 2010 general election to make his maiden speech in the Commons.[11][12]

Since his election to Parliament, Harrington has also been elected as General Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (until 2015), Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Film Industry Group, and a member of the International Development Select Committee between July 2010 - November 2012. He has run a number of successful community projects in Watford including six jobs fairs and a Community Exchange. His main areas of interest are cutting local unemployment, supporting business in the constituency and progressing the significant infrastructure projects in Watford including the redeveloping Watford Junction and the Watford Health Campus. In September 2012, Harrington was appointed as a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party. In the 2012-13 Parliamentary Session, Harrington successfully brought in a Private Members Bill to criminalise the unlawful subletting of social housing property.

In May 2015, Harrington was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Watford, with a majority of 9,794 votes, increasing the Conservative share of the vote by 8.5%. A month later, in June 2015, Harrington was appointed as the Prime Minister's apprenticeships adviser. On 14 September 2015, Harrington was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Syrian refugees, reporting primarily to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.[13]

Harrington was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in Theresa May's first Cabinet reshuffle on 17 July 2016, with his former position left vacant and effectively abolished.[14][15][1]

At the 2017 snap general election, Harrington was re-elected with a reduced majority of 2,092 votes.[16] Harrington was moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the subsequent Cabinet reshuffle.

Having helped secure Government funding for the Croxley Rail Link[17] Harrington expressed frustration with Labour's Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, for not progressing the project in February 2018; despite Harrington securing an extra £73,000,000 of government funding. In response Labour representatives argued that central government funding should have been provided for a project located outside of London and that "a more balanced approach, seeking the Department for Transport and TfL to work closely together is what is needed".[18]

In early-2019, Harrington warned of the risks of a no-deal Brexit.[19] On 25 March 2019, he resigned from the government to vote for Oliver Letwin’s amendment.[20][21]

On 1 April 2019, Harrington became the sixth Conservative MP to express his support for a second referendum on Brexit.

On 29 August 2019, Harrington announced via Twitter that he would not stand for re-election in the next general election.[22]

Alternative medicine

In June 2010, he supported and signed an early day motion in support of the continuation of National Health Service funding for homeopathy, a motion sponsored by Conservative MP David Tredinnick.[23]

Personal life

Harrington was married in 1982 to Jessie and they separated in December 2013. They have two grown-up sons.[17]


  1. Walker, Peter (25 July 2016). "Theresa May's scrapping of minister for refugees 'utterly disgraceful'". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9122.
  3. "HARRINGTON, Richard : Who's Who". 4 November 1957. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  4. Sheila Hamilton, "He's welcomed biggest stars on earth to Glasgow – now Stephen faces new challenge", Evening Times, Glasgow, 22 April 2006.
  6. Jessica Elgot. "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 16 May 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  7. "Richard Harrington – Parliamentary Candidate for Watford". Conservative Party (UK). Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. Independent Auditors' Report to the Members, The Variety Club Children's Charity.
  9. Rebecca Paveley, "The Lost Voters Who Prefer Clarke", Daily Mail, London, 10 August 2001.
  10. "Donor Clubs". Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  11. "Parliamentary debates". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 25 May 2010. col. 80–82. Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  12. "Richard Harrington, Mark Spencer and David Morris were the first of the 2010 Conservative intake to make their maiden speeches". Conservative Home. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  13. "Home Office Minister with responsibility for Syrian refugees appointed". Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  14. "New ministerial and government appointments announced on July 17 2016". Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 17 July 2016. Archived from the original on 17 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  15. "Theresa May criticised for scrapping Syrian refugees minister post held by Watford's MP". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  16. "Conservatives hold on to Watford seat but see majority slashed from 10,000 to 2,000". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. "About Richard". Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  18. "MP for Watford slams claims Mayor of London wanted Met Line Extension to go ahead". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  19. editor, Michael Savage Observer policy (2 February 2019). "Voters will never forgive Tories for a no-deal disaster, says minister". Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2019 via
  20. "Three ministers resign over Brexit indicative votes". Evening Standard. 25 March 2019.
  21. Stewart, Heather; Elgot, Jessica; Mason, Rowena (25 March 2019). "MPs seize control of Brexit process by backing indicative votes amendment". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  22. Harrington, Richard (29 August 2019). "A letter to the local residents of". @Richard4Watford. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  23. Tredinnick, David (29 June 2010). "Early Day Motion #284 British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy". Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Claire Ward
Member of Parliament
for Watford

Succeeded by
Dean Russell
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