Gareth Thomas (English politician)

Gareth Richard Thomas (born 15 July 1967) is a British Labour Co-op politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harrow West since 1997. Thomas held the position of Minister of State at the Department for International Development and, following the 2010 election, joined the shadow frontbench team.[1] Gareth Thomas is currently Shadow Minister of International Trade, under the leadership of Keir Starmer.

Gareth Thomas

Thomas in 2017
Shadow Minister for International Trade
Assumed office
10 April 2020
LeaderKeir Starmer
Chair of the Co-operative Party
In office
10 July 2001  8 June 2019
General SecretaryPeter Hunt
Michael Stephenson
Karin Christiansen
Claire McCarthy
Preceded byJim Lee
Succeeded byAnna Turley
Shadow Minister for Local Government
In office
7 October 2016  15 June 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Succeeded byJim McMahon
Shadow Minister for Europe
In office
8 October 2013  20 October 2014
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byEmma Reynolds
Succeeded byPat McFadden
Minister of State for International Development
In office
3 October 2008  13 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byHilary Benn
Succeeded byAlan Duncan
Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Consumer Affairs
In office
3 October 2008  5 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byThe Lord Jones of Birmingham
Succeeded byThe Lord Davies of Abersoch
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Consumer Affairs
In office
2 July 2007  3 October 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byKevin Brennan
Member of Parliament
for Harrow West
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byRobert Gurth Hughes
Majority8,692 (18.1%)
Personal details
Born (1967-07-15) 15 July 1967 (age 53)
Harrow, London, England
Political partyLabour Co-op
Alma materAberystwyth University,
University of Greenwich,
King's College London

Thomas served as Chair of the Co-operative Party from 2001 until 2019.

He sought to become the Labour Party's candidate in the 2016 election for Mayor of London, but came last of the six candidates in the ballot.[2]

Early life

Thomas attended Hatch End High School on Headstone Lane in Hatch End, then Lowlands College in Harrow. At the University College of Wales Aberystwyth he gained a BSc in Economics in 1988 and later a PGCE from the Thames Polytechnic (now the University of Greenwich) in 1992. He gained an MA in Imperial and Commonwealth Studies from King's College London in 1996 and became a teacher.

Parliamentary career

Gareth Thomas was Chair of the Co-operative Party until he stood down from the position in 2019. Within the capacity of the role, he served as President of the 2003 Co-operative Congress.[3] He was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development in 2003 and sponsored the Industrial and Provident Societies Act through Parliament.

In 2003, Thomas made an early attempt to ban smoking in restaurants with a Private Members Bill.[4]

After a June 2007 reshuffle, Thomas remained at International Development whilst also being part of the new Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, being appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Consumer Affairs. He had the responsibility of co-ordinating trade policy between the two departments.[5]

Following Gordon Brown's reshuffle of 3 October 2008, Thomas was promoted to Minister of State in both departments, taking on the portfolio of Trade, Investment and Consumer Affairs. In the June 2009 reshuffle DBERR was abolished, leaving Thomas to continue his role solely at International Development, with responsibility for Consumer Affairs passing to Kevin Brennan.

In May 2010 he was re-elected as Member of Parliament for Harrow West with a reduced majority (based on a notional 2005 result). He was Shadow Minister for Higher Education and Science from October 2010 to October 2011, Shadow Minister for Civil Society from October 2011 to October 2013, Shadow Minister for Europe from March 2013 to October 2014, then Shadow Minister for Africa and the Middle East from October 2014 to March 2015.

At the 2015 general election Conservative candidate Hannah David produced a swing from Labour to the Conservatives, and Thomas saw his majority reduced to 2,208.[6]

In 2016, Gareth Thomas campaigned to remain within the European Union and has consistently favoured upholding the United Kingdom's membership in the Union.[7]

He supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[8] After Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the leadership election, Thomas was one of the first Labour MPs to return to the frontbench, as Shadow Minister for Local Government until June 2017.

In 2017, he voted against the Bill permitting the Govt. to start negotiations on withdrawal from the EU by sending an article 50 notice to the EU; in doing so he broke Labour's whip. [9]

In the 2017 and 2019 general elections, Thomas was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Harrow West with majorities of 13,314 and 8,692 respectively.[10]

Gareth Thomas organised Harrow's first University Fair at Whitmore High School in 2016, allowing students to engage with leading universities within the UK and abroad.[11] The event has been held annually since and due to its success, an additional Careers Fair is being arranged for late 2020.

Under Keir Starmer, Thomas currently undertakes the role of Shadow Minister of International Trade since April 2020.[12]


  1. "Opposition Front Bench". The Labour Party. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010.
  2. Stone, Jon (15 May 2015). "Labour MP Gareth Thomas joins the race to be his party's London Mayor candidate". Independent. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  3. "Congress Presidents 1869–2002" (PDF). February 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
  4. "Smoking ban passes first test". BBC. 14 April 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  5. "Gareth R Thomas MP". Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  6. "Harrow West parliamentary constituency – Election 2015 – BBC News". BBC Online. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  7. "Gareth Thomas MP, Harrow West". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  8. Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  9. Batchelor, Tom (1 February 2017). "Article 50 Brexit vote: Full list of MPs who backed Theresa May starting official EU negotiations - and those who voted against". The Independent.
  10. "Harrow West parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". BBC News. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  11. "Students can talk to the top universities in the country at university fair". Harrow Times. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  12. "Parliamentary career for Gareth Thomas - MPs and Lords - UK Parliament". Retrieved 21 August 2020.