Clive Lewis (politician)

Clive Anthony Lewis (born 11 September 1971) is a British Labour politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Norwich South since winning the seat at the 2015 general election.[1] Lewis was a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party in the 2020 leadership election.

Clive Lewis

Lewis in 2017
Shadow Minister for Sustainable Economics
In office
12 January 2020  9 April 2020
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
In office
6 October 2016  8 February 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byJon Trickett (Business, Innovation and Skills)
Barry Gardiner (Energy and Climate Change)
Succeeded byRebecca Long-Bailey
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
27 June 2016  6 October 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byEmily Thornberry
Succeeded byNia Griffith
Member of Parliament
for Norwich South
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded bySimon Wright
Majority12,760 (24.7%)
Personal details
Clive Anthony Lewis

(1971-09-11) 11 September 1971 (age 49)
London, England
Political partyLabour
Katy Steel
(m. 2017)
Alma materUniversity of Bradford
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army (Territorial Army)
Years of service2006–2009
Unit7th Battalion, The Rifles
Battles/warsOperation Herrick

He previously served as vice-president of the National Union of Students, worked as a TV reporter for BBC News and served as an infantry officer with the Territorial Army. He served a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009.

He became shadow defence secretary in June 2016, and shadow business secretary in October 2016. He left the Shadow Cabinet in 2017 in protest over the Labour Party's decision to whip its MPs into voting to trigger Article 50, but rejoined the front bench a year later as shadow minister for sustainable economics.

He stood in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election, but withdrew after not receiving the required 22 parliamentarian nominations.

Early life and education

Clive Antony Lewis was born in London on 11 September 1971.[2][3] He grew up on a council estate in Northampton, the son of a single father, and is of mixed-race heritage; his father is from Grenada and his mother from England.[4][5] He was the first member of his family to attend university, studying economics at the University of Bradford before being elected student union president, and later vice-president of the National Union of Students (NUS).[3] In November 1995, he was a signatory to a letter that argued for the abolition of student loans.[6]

Lewis was suspended from the role of vice-president of the NUS in 1996 by the president of the NUS, Jim Murphy, for publicly supporting concerns about tuition fees.[7] Murphy's actions were condemned by Ken Livingstone, then a Labour MP.[7][8] Lewis ran for president of the National Union of Students in 1996 on a platform of full grants and free education. He lost the election to Douglas Trainer.[9]


After completing a post-graduate diploma in journalism, he worked on local newspapers in Northampton and Milton Keynes before being accepted into the BBC's News Trainee Scheme. He went on to work as a broadcast journalist in Nottingham, Norwich, and Coventry. He then became a senior broadcast journalist and the main reporter on the BBC's Politics Show East.[10][11]

Lewis joined the Territorial Army, passing out of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2006 as an infantry officer with 7 Rifles. In 2009, he served a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.[11] In an opinion piece he wrote years later, Lewis said "despite being on the left, and despite being told in the cadets that 'there ain't no black in the union jack', I still opted to serve".[12] Shortly after returning from his tour of duty, he faced depression, saying "I just felt like I was being crushed by it all." However, he recovered after receiving counselling from the Ministry of Defence.[13]

Political career

Parliamentary candidate

Lewis was selected as the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South at the party's hustings in November 2011, beating other candidates including the musician Dave Rowntree. Norwich South had been won by Simon Wright of the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 general election by a margin of just over 300 votes, defeating former Home Secretary and Education Secretary Charles Clarke.[14]

In April 2015, during an interview for the New Statesman, in response to a question on whether he was taking his upcoming victory for granted said, he would only lose if; “he was caught with [his] pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end". He subsequently apologised for the remark, saying he was "sincerely sorry" if anyone had been offended by the comment.[15]

As a candidate, Lewis opposed the Labour Party's position on immigration.[16] Locally, Lewis supported the campaign to prevent Hewett School, a comprehensive school in Norwich, from being turned into an academy.[17]

First term (2015–2017)

On 7 May 2015, Lewis was elected MP for Norwich South with a 15.8% majority of 7,654.[1] Lewis, in his victory speech, declared New Labour to be "dead and buried" and promised to stand up for Norwich's most vulnerable against an "onslaught of cuts" by the governing Conservative Party.[18]

In June 2015, Lewis was elected Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.[19][20] In the same month, he became a patron of the Anti Academies Alliance.[21]

Lewis was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the 2015 Labour leadership election.[22] Corbyn credited Lewis with getting his nominations "off the ground".[23][24] Lewis has been described as an ally of Corbyn, who was elected leader.[25] In September 2015, he was appointed to the Labour frontbench as a shadow minister in the Energy and Climate Change team.[26]

Lewis speaking at the 2016 Labour Party Conference

Following resignations from Corbyn's shadow cabinet after the 2016 EU referendum, Lewis was appointed as shadow defence secretary.[27] In September 2016, at the Labour Party's 2016 Conference, when Lewis was preparing to give his first speech as shadow defence secretary, a section of his speech announcing that he "would not seek to change" Labour's current policy on nuclear weapons was changed by Corbyn's communications advisor Seumas Milne. Lewis was informed of the change by a post-it note.[28][29] A month later, Corbyn removed Lewis from the defence brief, replacing him with Nia Griffith. Lewis was then appointed as shadow business secretary. The move was viewed as a tactical demotion.[30]

On 8 February 2017, Lewis resigned from the shadow cabinet, citing the Labour Party's decision to whip its MPs to vote to trigger Article 50 to start Brexit negotiations.[31]

In April 2017, Lewis was one of 13 MPs to vote against triggering the 2017 general election.[32] He was subsequently[when?] re-elected with a majority of 30.4 per cent.[citation needed]

Second term (2017–2019)

Clive Lewis was accused of groping a woman at Momentum's "World Transformed" event at the 2017 Labour party conference.[33] In response, Lewis said he was "pretty taken aback" by the accusation and "completely" and "categorically" denied it.[34] On 12 December 2017, he was cleared by Labour's National Executive Committee sexual harassment panel.[35]

In January 2018, Lewis was reappointed to Labour's shadow frontbench as a shadow Treasury minister, responsible for sustainable economics.[36][37]

Third term (2019–present)

In the 2019 general election, Lewis was returned on a reduced majority.[38]

In December 2019, he announced that he would run in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election following Corbyn's resignation.[39] Despite a petition by members and supporters to get him on the ballot due to his democratisation and electoral reform policies, he received only five of the necessary 22 nominations from Labour parliamentarians, thus he withdrew from the contest to allow his supporters to nominate other candidates shortly before nominations closed on 13 January.[40]

2017 Labour Conference video

Video footage, taken at a fringe event at the 2017 Labour Conference, emerged in which Lewis told the actor Sam Swann to “get on your knees, bitch”. Lewis' language attracted criticism from Labour colleague, but Swann later described the situation as “jovial”. Stella Creasy, Labour colleague, said: “It's not OK. Even if it's meant as a joke, it reinforces menace that men have the physical power to force compliance.” Swann told The Guardian: “It is clearly jovial and nothing vicious. Swann also said “The whole event was so brilliant for seeing MPs letting their hair down and fucking around with people who support them. I think Clive Lewis is an absolute legend.” Lewis subsequently tweeted an apology, in which he described his behaviour as "offensive and unacceptable".[41]

Personal life

Clive Lewis married Yorkshire school teacher and actress Katy Steel in May 2017.[42] Their daughter won praise from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow: "I must just say to the House ... that for all the turbulence and discord of today's proceedings the little baby who has been observing them has been a model of impeccable behaviour from start to finish."[43]


  • Extinction Rebellion, ed. (2019). "Chapter 26: A Green New Deal". This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. Penguin Books. pp. 155–161. ISBN 9780141991443.


  1. "Norwich South Parliamentary constituency". BBC. Archived from the original on 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  2. "Election results for the General election 2015 in Norwich South". Norwich City Council.
  3. "Lewis, Clive Anthony, (born 11 Sept. 1971), MP (Lab) Norwich South, since 2015". Who's Who & Who Was Who. 2015. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U284013. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  4. "Britain's most diverse parliament ever: the new 'Class of 2015'". British Future. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  5. Lewis, Clive (16 June 2018). "MP Clive Lewis on his father's style – 'Kids said: Where did you get Farahs from?'" via
  6. "LETTER: Student loans are uncivilised". The Independent. 28 November 1995. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  7. Black, Andrew (13 December 2014). "The Jim Murphy story". BBC News. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  8. "MR JIM MURPHY AND THE NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS". Parliament. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  9. "NUS votes for new era". Times Higher Education. 29 March 1996. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  10. "Politics Show East". BBC News. 14 September 2005. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  11. "Labour's saviour? Clive Lewis: Corbyn ally and rebellious socialist who voted against Brexit bill". International Business Times UK. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  12. "Phoney flag-waving is not the way for Labour to win back the red wall | Clive Lewis". The Guardian. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  13. "BBC journalist battles Afghanistan depression". BBC News. 9 February 2011. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  14. Dan Grimmer (19 November 2011). "TV reporter picked as Labour's candidate for Norwich South". Norwich Evening News. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
  15. "Norwich South Labour candidate sorry for Ed Miliband goat joke". BBC News. 17 April 2015. Archived from the original on 20 April 2015.
  16. Dan Falvey (1 May 2015). "Interview: Clive Lewis". Concrete. Norwich: University of East Anglia. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
  17. Dan Grimmer (20 April 2015). "Decision on Norwich's Hewett School should be local, says shadow chancellor Ed Balls". Eastern Daily Press. Norwich. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
  18. Kim Briscoe (9 May 2015). "Norwich's newest MP Clive Lewis vows to speak out for the city as he declares 'New Labour is dead and buried and it needs to stay that way'". Eastern Daily Press. Norwich. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015.
  19. "Clive Lewis elected Chair of All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group". British Humanist Association. 15 June 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  20. "Crispin Blunt and Joan Bakewell elected as Chair and Co-Chair of humanists in Parliament". Humanists UK. 13 September 2017. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  21. George, Martin. ""How can the Inspiration Trust be got rid of?" - Clive Lewis MP's questions following Hewett invitation | Education". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  22. Bright, Sam (15 June 2015). "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. London. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  23. "Who's who in Team Corbyn". New Statesman. London. 27 August 2015. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  24. Pickard, Jim (13 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn begins task of appointing UK shadow cabinet". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  25. Watson, Iain (13 September 2015). "Who are Jeremy Corbyn's main allies in the Labour Party?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  26. "Clive Lewis appointed to Labour frontbench". ITV News. 18 September 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  27. "Jeremy Corbyn unveils new top team after resignations". BBC News. 27 June 2016. Archived from the original on 26 June 2016.
  28. Bush, Stephen (26 September 2016). "Why Clive Lewis was furious when a Trident pledge went missing from his speech". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  29. Schofield, Kevin (26 September 2016). "Clive Lewis Trident speech changed by Seumas Milne on conference autocue". Politics Home. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  30. Stephen Bush; Helen Lewis; Julia Rampen (7 October 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles the shadow cabinet". New Statesman. London. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  31. Heather Stewart; Anushka Asthana (8 February 2017). "Clive Lewis quits shadow cabinet over Brexit bill". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 8 February 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  32. "The 13 MPs who opposed snap general election". BBC News. 20 April 2017. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  33. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 November 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. "Labour MP Clive Lewis denies groping claim". BBC News. 4 November 2017. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  35. Labour clears MP Clive Lewis of sexual harassment Archived 12 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine. BBC NEWS. Published 12 December 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  36. Corbyn reappoints Clive Lewis to Labour front bench. Archived 13 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine BBC NEWS. Published 12 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  37. Clive Lewis returns to frontbench in Labour reshuffle. Archived 12 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian. Author – Heather Stewart. Published 12 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  38. "Norwich South parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  39. Mason, Rowena (19 December 2019). "Clive Lewis joins race to be Labour leader pledging to 'unleash' party". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  40. McGuinness, Alec (13 January 2020). "Labour leadership: Clive Lewis pulls out of race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn". Sky News. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  41. Khomami, Nadia (20 October 2017). "Labour MP Clive Lewis apologises for 'get on your knees' comment". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  42. "Black Rod opens the Houses of Parliament – just for Clive and Katy to marry". Norwich Eye. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  43. Smith, Mikey (13 June 2018). "PMQs descends into chaos as Ian Blackford kicked out and SNP MPs storm out in protest". Daily Mirror. London. Retrieved 1 December 2018.