James Cleverly: Braintree MP named new Education Secretary

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James Cleverly, the new education secretary, said he looks forward to working with the sector to “realize people’s potential”.

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After a wave of prime ministers resigned, the Department of Education underwent rapid change, leaving some things unfinished, including the passage of the Schools Act in the reporting phase, decisions on teachers’ salaries and the finalization of the Green Paper on Special Educational Needs.

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So is Cleverly up to the task?

Here’s everything you need to know about him.

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What has James Cleverly said about his new role?

In a statement following his appointment as Foreign Secretary, he said: “As someone whose grandfather was a teacher and whose children are currently in the education system, I have an incredible passion for education and am proud to be appointed Foreign Secretary.

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There’s a “huge amount of work to do,” he added, from childcare and upcoming GCSE and A-level results to the schools’ white paper and T-levels.

“I look forward to working with our brilliant nurseries, social workers, schools, colleges, universities and all staff working in these sectors to fulfill the potential of people – regardless of their background or origin,” he said.

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James Cleverly arrives at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall in March 2020 (Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Who is he?

Cleverly has been an MP for Braintree in Essex since 2015 and was co-leader of the Conservative Party alongside Ben Elliot from 2019 to 2020 and a member of the London Assembly for Bexley and Bromley from 2008 to 2016.

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Born in Lewisham in 1969, he was educated privately at Riverston School and Colfe’s School, both in London.

After school, Cleverly undertook military training, dropping out in 1989 due to a leg injury. He later graduated from Thames Valley University (now the University of West London) with a Bachelors degree in Hospitality Management.

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In 2010, in response to Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes’ suggestion that backbench MPs should have the power to veto coalition policy, Cleverly tweeted that he called Hughes a “dick.”

“We may be coalition partners, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking Simon Hughes is an ass,” he said. He later apologized.

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Clever married Susannah Sparks in 2000 and the couple have two sons. In 2019 he was alleged to have damaged another driver’s car while driving on the M11; According to the other driver, Cleverly used his phone while speeding.

How is his voting behavior?

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The Labor Party proposed an amendment in Parliament in 2016 requiring private landlords to make their properties “habitable”, but they were unsuccessful.

Cleverly was one of 72 Conservative MPs who opposed the change in law and also personally made money renting properties, according to the interest register kept by Parliament.

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James Cleverly and Health Secretary Matt Hancock leave 10 Downing Street in 2019 (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

That same year, Cleverly was asked to give up his position as patron of the south-east England based charity Advocacy for All.

Because he voted to reduce the Employment and Assistance Allowance (the benefit paid to disabled disabled people who are unable to work), the charity decided that he was no longer qualified for the position.

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In 2018, Cleverly defended Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey against allegations that he had made anti-Hindu and anti-Islamic statements in a pamphlet that also claimed that young black men were becoming increasingly involved in crime because they knew more about others religions as “their own Christian culture”.

In 2019, Cleverly posted a video on social media in which he misidentified William Wilberforce, an independent MP and anti-slavery activist, as “Tory.”

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Will he run for Tory leader?

As he left Downing Street on Thursday (July 7), Cleverly ignored media questions about running for leader.

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Cleverly told Sky News: “I got in touch last time, I have no regrets, I really enjoyed it.

“As you know my wife has been through cancer treatment and while this is ongoing it is ongoing. It’s not the right time for me.”

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Asked whether it was reasonable for someone who voiced his criticism of Johnson to become the next prime minister, he told BBC Breakfast: “Anyone who comes forward has to explain the reasons for what they did and my colleagues will judge that.

“Some people will certainly want to support someone who has remained part of the PM’s team over the past few days and there will be others who might want to support someone who has been critical of the PM.”

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He told Times Radio: “He said he will stay until the process is complete, he hasn’t set a timetable for that.

“The timetable for this will be established by the 1922 Committee in relation to the Parliamentary phase and by the Conservative Party in relation to the Party phase.”

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