Henry Smith (British politician)

Henry Edward Millar Smith (born 14 May 1969) is an English Conservative Party politician. He was Leader of West Sussex County Council from 2003 to 2010. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Crawley, having been first elected in the 2010 general election.[4]

Henry Smith

Smith in 2017
Member of Parliament
for Crawley
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byLaura Moffatt
Majority8,360 (16.8%)
Leader of West Sussex County Council
In office
2003  28 May 2010
Preceded byHarold Hall
Succeeded byLouise Goldsmith
West Sussex County Councillor for Maidenbower
In office
Personal details
Born (1969-05-14) 14 May 1969 (age 52)[1]
Epsom, Surrey, England[2]
Political partyConservative Party[3]
Alma materUniversity College London
OccupationMember of Parliament
CommitteesInternational Development Committee and Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee), International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, International Development


Smith was born on 14 May 1969 in Epsom, Surrey. He was privately educated at Chinthurst School, Tadworth, Surrey – at the time a boys' preparatory school – then at Frensham Heights School, a co-educational independent school in Farnham in Surrey, followed by University College London, where he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy.[5]

Early career

Smith stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in the Pound Hill South ward of Crawley Borough Council in 1996. However, he was elected in 2002 as a Conservative Councillor for Pound Hill North Ward. He served until the next election in May 2006, when he did not stand again.[6] Smith stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Furnace Green ward on West Sussex County Council and was elected in 1997, before being re-elected in the same ward in 2001 and then elected in Pound Hill Worth & Maidenbower ward in 2005 and 2009.[7] He became Leader of the Council in 2003 at the age of 34, becoming the youngest county council leader in the country. At the time he also worked for a property investment business based in Crawley in West Sussex.[5]

Smith was the Chairman of the South East Counties Leaders Group (latterly South East Strategic Leaders) from 2007 to 2010, and has previously served as a Governor at The Oaks, The Brook, and Oriel High schools in Crawley. He co-wrote the 2005 publication Direct Democracy.

Parliamentary career

Smith stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for Crawley at the General Election in 2001 and 2005. He stood against the incumbent MP Laura Moffatt, the second time achieving the highest national swing from Labour to the Conservatives, reducing the majority to 37, the smallest in the country.[8] He was subsequently elected to Parliament at the 2010 general election. Following his election as Crawley MP he resigned as a West Sussex County Councillor on 1 September 2010.[9] He was then subsequently re-elected at the 2015 general election, 2017 general election and 2019 general election.

Smith is a Eurosceptic who supported backbench calls for an early referendum on exiting the EU. He repeatedly denied rumours linking him to a possible defection to UKIP in 2014, insisting he supported the Conservatives' other policies and felt they were the best option for a referendum on the EU.[10]

Smith said that getting a new hospital in the Pease Pottage area remained his "top issue" and was something he had raised in Parliament after constituents had criticised a lack of progress on the issue.[11]

Gatwick Airport lies within his constituency and he has frequently spoken in favour of improved rail links to the airport [12] and the reduction or abolition of Air Passenger Duty.[13] On the airport's 2018 plans to expand and use its emergency runway for departure flights, Smith has said: "Crawley’s prosperity depends on the success of Gatwick Airport and the publication of this new draft master plan goes a long way to securing future growth in the town. I have always supported the airport growing within its existing boundaries."[14][15] Despite this, he voted against the expansion of Gatwick in favour of Heathrow.[citation needed]

His parliamentary candidacy at the 2015 general election was personally endorsed by Queen guitarist Brian May on the grounds of his animal welfare record. May had worked with him in opposing the government's badger culling.[16] In parliament, Smith has also spoken against the export of live animals, the import of foie gras, the ivory trade, fur clothing and animals in circuses. He has spoken in favour of CCTV in slaughterhouses, the reduction of the use of animals in scientific experiments and for increased criminal penalties for animal cruelty.[17]

Smith has frequently spoken up for the rights of the expelled Chagos Islanders, many of whom live in his constituency.[18] In January 2018 he introduced the private members' British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill to enable the islanders and their descendants to claim British Overseas Territory citizenship.[19][20]

In the House of Commons he sits on the International Development Committee and Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee), the International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact and the International Development Committee. He previously sat on the European Scrutiny Committee.[21] Smith is a member of the Animal Welfare (co-chair), Blood Cancer (chair), Heart Disease (acting chair) All-Party Parliamentary Groups as well as sixteen other APPGs.

On 6 September 2013, while the St. Petersburg G20 Summit was ongoing, Smith referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "tosser" on Twitter, following reports of an unnamed Russian official having described Britain as "small and unimportant."[22] Smith subsequently said he stood by his comments, arguing that although it was "difficult to get a serious point across in 140 characters" the serious point was that Putin was an "absurd character who is responsible for some serious breaches of human rights".[23]

In 2018, Smith hosted the launch of PAWS – The Policy for Animal Welfare. Created by Cher Chevalier and Judith Clegg the policy provides further suggested steps to improve and fully enforce Animal Welfare Law.[24]

Having previously criticised the government's conduct of the Brexit negotiations,[25] he submitted a letter of no confidence in the Conservative Party leader Theresa May on the day after publication of the draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU.[26]

In October 2019, Smith alleged that he had been targeted with threats and stalking, including threats against his children. Smith said that in one incident, his children's school was publicised on anarchist and left-wing websites.[27]

In May 2020, Smith was criticised after he described MPs who objected to the end of the virtual parliament system during the COVID-19 pandemic as "lazy" and "work-shy socialists".[28]

In June 2020, Smith was criticised[by whom?] for claiming that Lutheran (of Jewish extraction) economist and philosopher Karl Marx was antisemitic, and for suggesting on Twitter that Marx's grave marker should be removed.[29] A number of scholars and commentators regard Marx and in particular his work On the Jewish Question, which addresses discusses "The Capacity of Present-day Jews and Christians to Become Free", as antisemitic.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

Personal life

Henry Smith was divorced in 2017. He has a daughter and a son.[citation needed]


  1. "Henry Smith MP". Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  2. "Who's Who". www.ukwhoswho.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. "The Register of Members' Financial Interests: Part 2. As at 24th January 2011". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  4. BBC Election 2010 "Crawley"
  5. "Members Of Parliament in Brighton". The Argus. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  6. "Crawley Council Election Results 1973-2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  7. "West Sussex Council Election Results 1973-2009" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  8. "About Henry". henrysmith.info.
  9. "Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley". henrysmith.info.
  10. Hardman, Isabel (4 November 2014). "Who will be the next Tory defector to Ukip". Spectator. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  11. Chris Ballinger (7 February 2014). "MP Henry Smith defends his efforts to get Crawley a new hospital". Crawley News (archived). Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  12. "Gatwick and Rail Link Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  13. "Air Passenger Duty Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  14. "Gatwick Airport could almost match Heathrow passenger numbers with second runway". www.independent.co.uk. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  15. "Gatwick Airport tables three proposals to boost capacity". www.newcivilengineer.com. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  16. "Queen legend Brian May urges Crawley residents to vote Conservative at General Election". Crawley News (archived). 27 March 2015. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  17. "Animal Welfare Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  18. "Chagos Islander Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  19. "British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill 2017-19". Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  20. "British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Motion". Hansard Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  21. "Henry Smith". Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  22. Henry Smith MP [@HenrySmithMP] (6 September 2013). "Putin really is a tosser" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 June 2017 via Twitter.
  23. Williams, Rob (6 September 2013). "Conservative backbencher Henry Smith brands Vladimir Putin a 'tosser' amid 'small island' row". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  24. "Hands Off Campaign". PAWS. April 2019.
  25. "Brexiteer reveals exactly WHEN Theresa May should STEP DOWN as prime minister". Daily Express. 15 September 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  26. "Theresa May's Brexit Deal: Crawley MP has "lost confidence" in Prime Minister". Crawley and Horley Observer. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  27. Laurie Churchman (30 September 2019). "MPs stalked and children targeted". The Argus.
  28. Somerville, Ewan (21 May 2020). "Tory MP sparks outrage by calling colleagues who oppose Parliament reopening 'lazy' and 'work-shy socialists'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  29. "Tory MP calls for grave of Jewish economist Karl Marx to be removed because he promoted 'antisemitism'". indy100.com. 12 June 2020.
  30. Paul Johnson, 1984. Marxism vs the Jews in Commentary Magazine. Available at: commentarymagazine.com
  31. Muravchik, Joshua (2003). Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. San Francisco: Encounter Books. p. 164. ISBN 1-893554-45-7.
  32. Hyam Maccoby. Antisemitism and Modernity: Innovation and Continuity. Routledge. (2006). ISBN 0-415-31173-X pp. 64–66
  33. Bernard Lewis. Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. (1999). W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31839-7 p. 112
  34. Edward H. Flannery. The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism. Paulist Press. (2004). ISBN 0-8091-4324-0 p. 168
  35. Marvin Perry, Frederick M. Schweitzer. Antisemitism: Myth and Hate from Antiquity to the Present. Palgrave Macmillan. (2005). ISBN 1-4039-6893-4 pp. 154–157