Hilary Benn

Hilary James Wedgwood Benn MP[lower-alpha 1] (born 26 November 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds Central since a by-election in 1999. He served in the Cabinet from 2003 to 2010, under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and was Shadow Foreign Secretary from May 2015 to June 2016. In October 2016, he was elected as the inaugural Chairman of the new Exiting the European Union Select Committee.


Hilary Benn

Official portrait, 2020
Chair of the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union
Exiting the European Union (2016–2020)
In office
19 October 2016  16 January 2021
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
28 June 2007  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byDavid Miliband
Succeeded byCaroline Spelman
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
6 October 2003  28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Baroness Amos
Succeeded byDouglas Alexander
Minister of State for International Development
In office
13 May 2003  6 October 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded bySally Keeble
Succeeded byGareth Thomas
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons and Probations
In office
29 May 2002  13 May 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byKeith Bradley
Succeeded byHazel Blears
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
In office
11 June 2001  28 May 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byChris Mullin
Succeeded bySally Keeble
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
11 May 2015  26 June 2016
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded byDouglas Alexander
Succeeded byEmily Thornberry
Shadow First Secretary of State
Acting
11 May 2015  13 September 2015
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded byHarriet Harman (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister)
Succeeded byAngela Eagle
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
7 October 2011  11 May 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byCaroline Flint
Succeeded byEmma Reynolds
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
8 October 2010  7 October 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byRosie Winterton
Succeeded byAngela Eagle
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
11 May 2010  8 October 2010
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded byNick Herbert
Succeeded byMary Creagh
Member of Parliament
for Leeds Central
Assumed office
10 June 1999
Preceded byDerek Fatchett
Majority19,270 (39.1%)
Personal details
Born
Hilary James Wedgwood Benn

(1953-11-26) 26 November 1953 (age 67)
Hammersmith, London, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
  • Rosalind Retey
    (m. 1973; died 1979)
  • Sally Clark
    (m. 1982)
Children4
ParentsTony Benn
Caroline Benn
Alma materUniversity of Sussex
WebsiteOfficial website

Born in Hammersmith, he is the second son of veteran Labour MP Tony Benn and educationalist Caroline Benn. He studied Russian and East European Studies at the University of Sussex and went on to work as a policy researcher for two trade unions, ASTMS and MSF. Benn was elected as a councillor on Ealing Borough Council in 1979 and was Deputy Leader of the Council from 1986 to 1990. He was also the unsuccessful Labour parliamentary candidate for the Ealing North constituency at both the 1983 and 1987 general elections. After the 1997 general election, Benn was appointed as a special adviser to David Blunkett before winning a by-election in Leeds Central in 1999.

Benn served as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development from 2001 to 2002 and for Prisons and Probations from 2002 to 2003. He returned to DFID as Minister of State in May 2003. In October 2003, he was appointed to Tony Blair's Cabinet as the Secretary of State for International Development. In 2007, Benn was a candidate for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, which he lost to Harriet Harman. Benn later served under Gordon Brown as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2007 to 2010.

After Labour's defeat at the 2010 general election, Benn served in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Environment Secretary in 2010 and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons from 2010 to 2011. He then served as Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from 2011 to 2015. After the 2015 general election, Benn was appointed as Shadow Foreign Secretary, retaining this role after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour Leader. After criticising Corbyn's leadership and phoning other Labour MPs to seek to remove Corbyn as leader, he was dismissed from this position by Corbyn on 26 June 2016, precipitating a number of shadow cabinet resignations. Benn was later elected Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee. He sought to extend Article 50 to delay Brexit beyond the 31 October 2019 deadline through passing the Benn Act. He wished to have a second referendum in which he would have voted to remain; however, the Benn Act was nullified once Boris Johnson won a Conservative majority in the 2019 general election and the UK left the European Union.