Chris Bryant

Christopher John Bryant (born 11 January 1962) is a British politician and former priest who served as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons from 2008 to 2009 and Under-Secretary of State for Europe and Asia from 2009 to 2010.[1][2] He later served in the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Culture Secretary and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons from 2015 to 2016. A member of the Labour Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Rhondda since 2001.

Chris Bryant

Official portrait, 2017
Chairman of the Committee on Standards and the Committee of Privileges
Assumed office
6 May 2020
Preceded byKate Green
Chair of the Commons Finance Committee
In office
31 October 2017  6 November 2019
Preceded byRosie Winterton
Succeeded byLilian Greenwood
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Europe and Asia
In office
13 October 2009  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byThe Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
Succeeded byDavid Lidington
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
9 June 2009  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byGillian Merron
Succeeded byHenry Bellingham
Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
5 October 2008  9 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byHelen Goodman
Succeeded byBarbara Keeley
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
13 September 2015  26 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byAngela Eagle
Succeeded byPaul Flynn
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
11 May 2015  13 September 2015
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded byHarriet Harman
Succeeded byMichael Dugher
Other shadow posts
Shadow Minister for the Arts
In office
3 December 2014  11 May 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byHelen Goodman
Succeeded byThangam Debbonaire
Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform
In office
8 October 2013  3 December 2014
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byIan Austin
Succeeded byHelen Goodman
Shadow Minister for Immigration
In office
7 October 2011  8 October 2013
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byGerry Sutcliffe
Succeeded byDavid Hanson
Shadow Minister for Political Reform
In office
8 October 2010  7 October 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byWayne David
Member of Parliament
for Rhondda
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded byAllan Rogers
Majority11,440 (38.6%)
Personal details
Christopher John Bryant

(1962-01-11) 11 January 1962 (age 59)
Cardiff, Wales, UK
Political partyLabour (since 1986)
Conservative (before 1986)
Spouse(s)Jared Cranney
Alma materMansfield College, Oxford
Ripon College Cuddesdon
WebsiteOfficial website
Commons website

Born in Cardiff, Bryant was privately educated at Cheltenham College before studying English at Mansfield College, Oxford. After graduating with a further degree in theology, he worked as a Church of England vicar as well as having roles at the BBC and Common Purpose. He was elected for Rhondda at the 2001 general election, with one of the largest majorities in the country.

Early life

Chris Bryant was born in Cardiff, Wales to a Scottish mother and a Welsh father. Bryant grew up in Cardiff (where his father worked for five years), Spain for five years in the 1960s (leading to his speaking fluent Spanish),[3][4] and Cheltenham.[5] He was educated at Cheltenham College, an independent school for boys in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and Mansfield College, Oxford, where he studied English.

Although initially a member of the Conservative Party, and an elected office-holder in the Oxford University Conservative Association, he joined the Labour Party in 1986 after leaving Oxford.


After completing his first degree, Bryant began his training to be a vicar in the Church of England at Ripon College Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire. There, he obtained a further degree in theology.

He was ordained deacon in 1986 and priest in 1987. He served as a curate at the Church of All Saints, High Wycombe from 1986 to 1989 and then as a Youth Chaplain in Peterborough, as well as travelling in Latin America.[4]

In 1991 Bryant left the ordained ministry, after deciding that being gay and being a priest were incompatible. Statements made by Richard Harries, the then-Bishop of Oxford also influenced his decision.[4]

Early political career

After leaving the priesthood in 1991, Bryant made a radical career move and began work as the election agent to the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party, where he helped Frank Dobson hold his seat in the 1992 general election. From 1993 he was Local Government Officer for the Labour Party; he lived in Hackney and was elected to Hackney Borough Council in 1993, representing Leabridge ward and serving until 1998.[6][7] He became Chairman of the Christian Socialist Movement.[4] From 1994 to 1996 he was London manager of the charity Common Purpose.[8]

In 1996, he became a full-time author, writing biographies of Stafford Cripps and Glenda Jackson. He was Labour candidate for Wycombe in the 1997 general election (where he lost by 2,370 votes), and Head of European Affairs for the BBC from 1998.[8]

Parliamentary career

His selection for the very safe Labour seat of Rhondda in South Wales in 2000 surprised many people given Bryant's background – gay, a former Anglican vicar, and someone who had been a Conservative as a student. He says of his surprise selection, "I fell off the chair, and my opponents certainly did". Fifty-two people applied for the candidature and a local councillor was hot favourite to win.[4] He retained the seat comfortably at the 2001 general election with a 16,047 majority, one of the largest in the country.

In 2003 Bryant voted for participation in the Iraq war.[9][10] He is a member of the Labour Friends of Israel[11] and Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East group.[12]

From 2004 until 2007 Bryant was chairman of the Labour Movement for Europe, succeeded by Mary Creagh MP. Bryant is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles.

On 5 September 2006, with Siôn Simon, he co-ordinated a prominent letter which was signed by 15 Labour backbenchers calling for Tony Blair's immediate resignation.[13]

Bryant was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs Charlie Falconer. In Gordon Brown's autumn 2008 reshuffle, Bryant was promoted from his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Harriet Harman to the ministerial position of Deputy Leader of the House of Commons otherwise known as Parliamentary Secretary to the House of Commons. This was followed by another move in the June 2009 reshuffle, when he moved to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. On 13 October 2009 he was also appointed Minister for Europe.[14]

Phone hacking scandal

On 11 March 2003, as part of an Enquiry into Privacy and Press Intrusion by the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, he asked Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) whether she had ever paid police officers for information. Seated beside Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World, she said 'yes'. Bryant had his phone hacked later that year by the News of the World, a fact which became known to the Metropolitan Police when they seized material from the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.[15] Bryant sought judicial review of the Metropolitan Police along with John Prescott and Brian Paddick, in an attempt to force them to contact all the victims of phone hacking by the News of the World. The Metropolitan Police accepted their liability and he won damages of £30,000 from News International in 2012.[16]

Bryant called for and led the parliamentary debates on referring the phone hacking scandal to the Standards and Privileges Committee on 9 September 2010, and the Emergency Debate on whether there should be a judge led enquiry on 6 July 2011 which led to the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry.

Expenses claims scandal

Bryant claimed over £92,000 in expenses over the five years leading up to the 2009 scandal over MPs' expenses.[17] During that time he flipped his second-home expenses twice. He claimed mortgage interest expenses that started at £7,800 per year before rising (after flipping) to £12,000 per year. He also claimed £6,400 in stamp duty and other fees on his most recent purchase, and £6,000 per year in service charges.[18]

In opposition

In October 2010, Bryant stood as one of 49 candidates for election to the 19 places in the Shadow Cabinet in the internal Labour Party poll, receiving 77 votes, 29th position on the list.

In October 2010, Bryant described the coalition government's housing benefit reforms as poorer people "being socially engineered and sociologically cleansed out of London". The use of the term "cleansing" was criticised by members of the coalition, including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who called Bryant's comment "offensive to people who had witnessed ethnic cleansing in other parts of the world".[19]

In 2011, in the House of Commons, he criticised Prince Andrew, Duke of York for a number of alleged indiscretions.[20]

Bryant won the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in 2011 for his work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[21] He was given a score of 100% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.[22] On 5 February 2013 he voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on same-sex marriage in Britain.[23][better source needed]

In December 2014, Bryant was moved from Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform to Shadow Minister for the Arts.[24]

In January 2015 Bryant suggested that too many successful artists such as "James Blunt and their ilk" had been educated at private schools, and that he wanted to see more encouragement for the arts for people from a variety of backgrounds, even though Bryant himself attended a private school. Blunt said that Bryant was a "narrow-minded 'classist gimp' who was motivated by the 'politics of jealousy'"; Bryant responded by claiming that Blunt should not be "so blooming precious" and that he was not "knocking [his] success" but attempting to draw attention to the lack of diversity in the arts.[25]

In September 2015, following Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour Party leader, Bryant was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. He resigned from this position on 26 June 2016,[26] along with other shadow ministers after the Brexit vote.[27] He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election.[28]

In January 2017 Bryant, ex-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Russia, claimed that the Russian government orchestrated a homophobic campaign to remove him from this position, saying that the Russian government has acquired kompromat on high-profile Conservative Party MPs including Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Alan Duncan and David Davis.[29]

On 12 January 2017, Bryant bemused his fellow MPs and Speaker of the House John Bercow, when he wished Bercow happy "kiss a ginger day", during business questions.[30]

In November 2017 Bryant called for the arrest[31] of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, if he travels to the United Kingdom, after the President shared a comment on the social media website Twitter from a member of the far-right group Britain First that related to radical Islamic events. Bryant stated: "The Prime Minister should make it absolutely clear that if Donald Trump comes to this country he'll be arrested for inciting religious hatred and therefore he'd be better off not coming at all."[32]

In December 2020, Bryant became engaged in a row with the Commons speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. The disturbance started with Bryant heckling the Prime Minister while standing near to a door. The Speaker informed Bryant that that social distancing rules meant he needed to move and he then instructed Bryant to sit in one of the seats intended for use by MPs. Some of those present thought that Bryant then uttered an offensive expletive back to the Speaker although Bryant denied this. Bryant then exited the chamber of the Commons while the Speaker called for him. Some moments after the Speaker had denounced Bryant's "disgraceful behaviour", Bryant returned to the chamber to engage in what appeared to be a heated discussion with the speaker. Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "Mr Bryant, I think we need to have this conversation later" and Bryant left the chamber.[33]

Candidate for Speaker

On 10 September 2019, Bryant announced that he would stand to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons following the announcement by John Bercow of his intention to resign on 31 October 2019.[34] On 4 November he was the runner-up candidate in the parliamentary vote for Speaker, losing to Lindsay Hoyle by 213 to 325.[35]

Personal life

Bryant entered into a civil partnership with Jared Cranney on 27 March 2010. The ceremony was the first civil partnership ever held in the Houses of Parliament.[4] They are now married. Bryant lives in Porth in the Rhondda.[5]

He was ridiculed by the press in 2003 when he posted a picture of himself wearing only underpants on a gay dating site, Gaydar.[36] Bryant later reflected upon the affair, saying, "It was a wound but it's a rather charming scar now. I had a period when I barely slept and it was horrible, but I'm very lucky in having a supportive set of friends – MP friends and others – and they looked after me." At the time, the media predicted that he would not survive, and there was much talk of his possible deselection.[4] In 2013, he reflected on the incident, saying that the whole affair actually boosted his majority as an MP.[37]

On 25 September 2006 The Guardian newspaper ran four spoof diary articles called "Chris Bryant's Manchester Diary". The newspaper later printed a clarification to confirm that these were parodies, and were not written by Bryant.[38]

In March 2019, Bryant said that he had undergone surgery for skin cancer.[39]


  • Entitled: A Critical History of the British Aristocracy by Chris Bryant, 2017, Doubleday ISBN 978-0857523167
  • Parliament: The Biography: Reform (Vol. 2) by Chris Bryant, 2014, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0857522245
  • Parliament: The Biography: Ancestral Voices (Vol. 1) by Chris Bryant, 2014, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0857520685
  • Glenda Jackson: The Biography by Chris Bryant, 1999, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-255911-0
  • Stafford Cripps: The First Modern Chancellor by Chris Bryant, 1997, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, ISBN 0-340-67892-5
  • Possible Dreams: Personal History of the British Christian Socialists by Chris Bryant, 1996, Hodder & Stoughton Religious, ISBN 0-340-64201-7
  • The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler by Chris Bryant, 2020, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1526601711


  1. Chris Bryant's speech to Annual Conference, retrieved 16 June 2021
  2. "The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler". NOTCHES. 31 May 2021. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  3. "Chris Bryant: You Ask The Questions". The Independent. London. 22 March 2010. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  4. Moss, Stephen (18 March 2010). "Chris Bryant: 'I don't think of myself as a gay MP'". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 9 September 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  5. Politics Online, Links Archived 26 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (16 February 2012). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  6. Minors, Michael; Grenham, Dennis (1994). London Borough Council Elections 5 May 1994 (PDF). London Research Centre. ISBN 1-85261-207-X. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  7. Minors, Michael; Grenham, Dennis; Vaid, Lovedeep (1993). London Borough Council By-elections May 1990 to May 1994 (PDF). London Research Centre. ISBN 1-85261-200-2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  8. Who's Who. A & C Black. January 2007.
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  11. "Over-zealous attacks on Israel 'anti-semitism by proxy', says Labour MP Chris Bryant". The Independent. 29 March 2016. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  12. Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East. Retrieved on 12 August 2013. Archived 11 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "Minister joins Blair exit demands". BBC News. 5 September 2006. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  14. Webster, Philip (13 October 2009). "Brown downgrades Europe post in Cabinet reshuffle farce". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
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  19. "Clegg denies Labour's urban 'cleansing' claim". BBC News. 26 October 2010. Archived from the original on 28 October 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  20. "Duke must lose trade job, says MP". BBC News. 1 March 2011. Archived from the original on 24 November 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  21. {}%5B%5D Stonewall 2011 [dead link]
  22. Stonewall 2010
  23. {} Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine The House of Commons. 2013. Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012–2013.
  24. "Labour reshuffle - Bach new job". BBC News. 3 December 2014. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  25. "James Blunt in 'posh spat' with MP". BBC News. 28 August 2018. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
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  27. Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances; Slawson, Nicola (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  28. "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  29. Townsend, Mark; Smith, David (14 January 2017). "Senior British politicians 'targeted by Kremlin' for smear campaigns". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  30. "Speaker baffled by 'kiss a ginger' remark". BBC News. 12 January 2017. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  31. "Trump may have broken the UK's dumb, anti-free speech laws with his retweets". Washington Examiner. 29 November 2017. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  32. "Donald Trump far-right retweets 'deliberate and intentional'". BBC News. 30 November 2017. Archived from the original on 4 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  33. "Row in Commons as Speaker accuses MP of 'disgraceful' behaviour". The Independent. 9 December 2020.
  34. "Chris Bryant bids to be new Commons Speaker". BBC News. 10 September 2019. Archived from the original on 11 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  35. "Sir Lindsay Hoyle elected new Commons Speaker". BBC News. 4 November 2019. Archived from the original on 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  36. "MP 'sorry' over underpants photo". BBC News. 2 December 2003. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  37. "Chris Bryant: 'Posing in my underwear got me a greater majority as an MP'". PinkNews. 1 February 2013. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  38. "Apology – Chris Bryant MP". The Guardian. London. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  39. Maguire, Kevin (6 March 2019). "How a trip to the hairdresser revealed man's cancer". Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.