Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, CBE (born 10 January 1962[1]) is a Liberal Democrat politician in Portsmouth, England. He has been the leader of Portsmouth City Council since 15 May 2018,[2] having previously been leader between 2004–2014, and councillor for Milton Ward since 2003.[3]


Robert Gerald van Cortlandt Vernon-Jackson

Gerald Vernon-Jackson (2019)
Leader of Portsmouth City Council
Assumed office
12 June 2018
Preceded byDonna Jones (Con)
In office
June 2004  4 June 2014
Preceded byFrank Worley (Con)
Succeeded byDonna Jones (Con)
Chair of the English Liberal Democrats
Assumed office
20 February 2020
Preceded byTahir Maher
Member of Portsmouth City Council for Milton Ward
Assumed office
1 May 2003
Preceded byNigel Sizer (Lib Dem)
Personal details
Alma materUniversity of Southampton, University of Liverpool
AwardsCommander of the British Empire

Personal life

Vernon-Jackson was born in Hampshire, England. He is the son of Jean Vernon-Jackson MBE, former Chairman of Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council,[4] and a graduate of the University of Liverpool and University of Southampton with a bachelor's degree in History and a Master's in Social Care, respectively.

Political career

Vernon-Jackson was an elected member of the Newbury Council from 1995 to 2003, where he served as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats group. During this period, he served as Head of Office for Newbury MP David Rendel, and the Deputy Director of Campaigns of the Liberal Democrats. He would also contest the European Parliament Election, 1999 as 8th member of the Liberal Democrats list for the South East England constituency, ahead of future MEP Catherine Bearder. In 2003 he was elected to Milton Ward and assumed the Deputy Leadership of the Portsmouth Liberal Democrats Group.[5] In 2004 he became Leader of the Council, a position he held until the 2014 council election.[6] During this period, the Liberal Democrat administration was accused of covering up an independent report into allegations of sexual harassment made against then-MP Mike Hancock,[7] Vernon-Jackson himself having dismissed the accusations as being motivated by possible financial gain.[8]

Following a spell in opposition, after the 2018 council election, Vernon-Jackson reassumed Leadership of the Council in a minority administration with the support of the Labour Party council group.[9] Since reassuming leadership, Vernon-Jackon's second administration caused controversy due to its decision to pursue the closure of Victory Energy,[10][11][12] pursued the development of Tipner West,[13] sought and received approval for the development of the Horsea Island Country Park[14] and took charge of Council preparations for Brexit. In a letter to Michael Gove, minister in charge of no-deal Brexit planning, Vernon-Jackson accused the Government of underestimating the potential strife caused by a no-deal Brexit to Portsmouth docks.[15][16]

During his time in opposition, Vernon-Jackson ran for the Portsmouth South constituency, first in 2015 to succeed Mike Hancock, and then again in 2017 in an attempt to retake the constituency for the Liberal Democrats, however was defeated in both attempts by Flick Drummond and Stephen Morgan, respectively. He stood again in Portsmouth South at the 2019 election,[17] initially placed first in constituency polling against Labour and the Conservative candidates in a poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats,[18][19] however successive polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrats for the constituency would see Vernon-Jackson slip into third place, where he would ultimately poll on election day. In 2016, Vernon-Jackson was awarded a CBE for his services to local government.[20]

From 2012 to 2017, Vernon-Jackson served as Vice Chair & Lib Dem Group Leader on the Local Government Association. Since January 2020, Vernon-Jackson has been a member of the Liberal Democrats Federal Board and Chair of the English Liberal Democrats.[21]


  1. "UK Polling Report". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  2. "Lib Dems win council leadership". 15 May 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018 via
  3. "Councillor details - Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson CBE". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  4. "Former county councillor dies after lifetime of public service". Daily Echo. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  5. Smulian, Mark (August 2012). "Gerald Vernon-Jackson" (PDF). C'llr. Local Government Information Unit. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  6. "Conservatives chosen to run Portsmouth City Council". 4 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2018 via
  7. "MP Mike Hancock 'made unwelcome sexual approaches', lawyer concludes". Guardian. Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  8. "Mike Hancock supporter during cover up wants to be Portsmouth MP". Political Scrapbook. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  9. "Gerald Vernon-Jackson replaces Donna Jones as Portsmouth City Council leader". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  10. "Portsmouth council drops own Victory Energy firm". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  11. "Portsmouth councillors call for Victory Energy rethink". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  12. "Portsmouth City Council loses more than £3m as it fails to find buyer for Victory Energy". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  13. "Gensler reveals masterplan for 4,000 homes on Portsmouth 'super-peninsula'". Architects' Journel. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  14. "Horsea Island Country Park". Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  15. "Government 'must not crucify Portsmouth' over Brexit". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  16. "Portsmouth council leader warns no-deal Brexit could divert trading standards investigators away from dealing with criminals - and could cost authority £300,000 extra a year". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  17. "Mental health therapist to stand as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in Portsmouth".
  18. "Election polling puts Lib Dems beating Labour MP Stephen Morgan in Portsmouth South". Retrieved 2019-12-27.
  19. "2019". Survation. Retrieved 2019-12-27.
  20. "Former Portsmouth leader's pride as he picks up CBE honour at Windsor Castle". The News (Portsmouth). Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  21. "Gerald Vernon-Jackson elected new chair of the English Liberal Democrats". Mark Pack. 20 February 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
Donna Jones
Leader of Portsmouth City Council
Preceded by
Frank Worley
Leader of Portsmouth City Council
Succeeded by
Donna Jones