Mark Reckless

Mark John Reckless (born 6 December 1970) is an English Brexit Party politician serving as Member of the Senedd (MS) for South Wales East since 2016.

Mark Reckless

Reckless in 2016
Leader of the Brexit Party in the Senedd
Assumed office
15 May 2019
LeaderNigel Farage
Preceded byOffice established
Member of the Senedd
for South Wales East
Assumed office
5 May 2016
Preceded byWilliam Graham
UKIP Spokesperson for Economics
In office
18 August 2015  6 April 2017
LeaderNigel Farage
Diane James
Paul Nuttall
Preceded byPatrick O'Flynn
Succeeded byPatrick O'Flynn
Member of Parliament
for Rochester and Strood
In office
6 May 2010  30 March 2015
Preceded byBob Marshall-Andrews (Medway)
Succeeded byKelly Tolhurst
Personal details
Mark John Reckless

(1970-12-06) 6 December 1970 (age 49)
London, England
Political partyBrexit Party (2019–present)
Other political
Independent (2017–2019)
UK Independence Party (2014–2017)
Conservative (2002–2014)
Spouse(s)Catriona Brown
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
The University of Law
Columbia Business School

He was previously elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood in the 2010 general election.[1] Reckless crossed the floor to join the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in September 2014;[2] he won re-election as a UKIP member in a by-election held in November 2014, but lost his seat to the Conservatives in the 2015 general election.

Whilst a member of the House of Commons, Reckless was noted for his rebelliousness; he cast 56 votes against the whip between 2010 and 2014, making him the 13th-most rebellious Conservative in the period.[3] He led a rebellion of 53 Conservative MPs on the EU budget, which inflicted the first House of Commons defeat on the coalition government.[4] From November 2010, he served as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

A Eurosceptic, he was elected to the National Assembly for Wales, now known as the Senedd, in 2016. He campaigned for the Leave side in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union.[5] He subsequently joined the Brexit Party and was appointed Leader in the National Assembly by Nigel Farage in 2019.[6]


Reckless was educated at Marlborough College before going up to Christ Church, Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics and economics. He then pursued postgraduate studies at Columbia Business School in the United States, receiving an MBA. At Columbia he studied alongside writer Jacob Appel, and is the subject of several thinly-veiled anecdotes in Appel's satire The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up.[7]

After university, he trained as a barrister at the College of Law, gaining an LLB, and was called to the Bar in 2007.

Early career

In the mid-1990s, Reckless worked for UBS Warburg.[8] In the late 1990s, he worked as a strategy consultant and associate in Financial Services Group at Booz, Allen & Hamilton.[9]

Until his election in May 2010, Reckless had been a solicitor at Herbert Smith[10] and had worked on legal matters that had had dealings with private investigators.[11] He was a member of the Kent Police Authority from 2007 to 2011.

Member of Parliament

Between 2002 and 2004, Reckless was a member of the policy unit at Conservative Central Office where he wrote a book on deregulation policy[12] as well as overseeing the development of the policy on directly elected police commissioners.[13] The first police and crime commissioner elections took place on 15 November 2012.

Reckless was elected as the member of parliament for Rochester and Strood in 2010 with a 9,953 majority for the Conservative Party, having previously contested the Medway constituency in 2001 and 2005, reducing the majority of the incumbent Labour MP to 3,780 in 2001 and 213 in 2005. He had served as a Medway councillor between 2007 and 2011.[14]

Reckless was elected to the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2010[15] often appearing on Newsnight and other political programmes, arguing for the deportation of clerics Abu Hamza[16] and Abu Qatada.[17] He was one of parliament's most rebellious MPs.[18] He was one of only six Conservative MPs to vote against increase of university tuition fees,[19][20] and was a critic of the government's energy policy, arguing that the government's Energy Bill introduced in December 2012 was "a sad retreat for Conservatives".[21]

In July 2010, Reckless apologised for missing a vote on the budget because he was drunk. He said that he "did not feel it was appropriate to take part in the vote because of the amount he had drunk".[22]

A Eurosceptic,[23] Reckless is also a critic of the European Court of Human Rights, saying it erodes "British freedom and democracy".[24]

He was chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Georgia.[25] The group's aims are "to facilitate greater parliamentary awareness of developments in Georgia".

On 30 September 2014, Reckless applied for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds and therefore ceased to be an MP. A by-election was called on 20 November, at which Reckless was nominated to stand as the UKIP candidate. He was returned as a member of parliament for UKIP, becoming the party's second elected MP.

European Union budget rebellion

On 31 October 2012, Reckless led a rebellion of 53 Conservative MPs which inflicted the first House of Commons defeat (307 votes to 294) on the coalition government. The Tory rebels voted with Labour MPs to pass an amendment calling for a real-terms cut in the 2014–2020 EU budget multi-annual financial framework. The coalition government supported only a real-terms freeze in the EU budget as a minimum. The amendment was not binding on the government, but damaged prime minister David Cameron's authority on Europe before key EU budget negotiations in November 2012.[26] As a result of leading the successful rebellion, Reckless was voted 'Backbencher of the Year' by the Conservatives[27] and finished third in a ConservativeHome poll of 'Backbencher of the Year', although the site's editor Tim Montgomerie announced that 'if UKIP readers had been included in the poll Mark Reckless would have topped the vote.'[28]

Defection to UKIP

On 27 September 2014, Reckless defected to the UK Independence Party at its party conference in Doncaster, and announced his resignation in order to seek re-election at a by-election.[2] He became the second Conservative MP in the space of a month to defect to UKIP, the first being his close friend Douglas Carswell. In a speech delivered to the conference, Reckless claimed that the Conservative leadership was 'not serious about real change on Europe', and that 'Britain could be better'.[2]

Although he won the by-election on 20 November 2014 as a UKIP candidate, in the 2015 general election Reckless lost his seat to the Conservative candidate, Kelly Tolhurst.

In June 2015, Reckless was made Director of Policy Development by UKIP.

Member of the Senedd

In March 2016, Reckless was announced as UKIP's lead candidate for the regional seat of South Wales East. He was elected on 5 May 2016.

On 6 April 2017, Reckless left UKIP to join the Conservative Group; however, he did not rejoin the Conservative Party. This move made the Conservative group the second-largest in the Welsh Assembly. Upon leaving, he said, "I leave UKIP positively, having achieved our joint aim, a successful referendum to leave the EU".[29][30][31][32]

On 14 April 2019, Reckless left the Conservative Party Group over the party's failure to deliver Brexit. He then sat as an independent member[33] before joining until the Brexit Party the following month.[6]

On 15 May 2019, Reckless stated his intention to form a new Brexit Party political group, along with Caroline Jones, Mandy Jones, and David Rowlands. He is the current leader of the Brexit Party in the Senedd.[6]

Electoral history

Rochester and Strood, 2015

General election 2015: Rochester and Strood[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Kelly Tolhurst 23,142 44.1 -5.1
UKIP Mark Reckless 16,009 30.5 N/A
Labour Naushabah Khan 10,396 19.8 -8.7
Green Clive Gregory 1,516 2.9 +1.4
Liberal Democrats Prue Bray 1,251 2.4 -13.9
TUSC Dan Burn 202 0.4 +0.4
Majority 7,133 13.6
Turnout 52,516 66.5
Conservative gain from UKIP Swing -17.8
Rochester and Strood 2014

See 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election

Rochester and Strood by-election, 20 November 2014[35][36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UKIP Mark Reckless 16,867 42.1 N/A
Conservative Kelly Tolhurst 13,947 34.8 -14.4
Labour Naushabah Khan 6,713 16.8 -11.7
Green Clive Gregory 1,692 4.2 +2.7
Liberal Democrats Geoff Juby 349 0.9 -15.5
Monster Raving Loony Hairy Knorm Davidson 151 0.4 N/A
Independent Stephen Goldsborough 69 0.2 N/A
People Before Profit Nick Long 69 0.2 N/A
Britain First Jayda Fransen 56 0.1 N/A
Independent Mike Barker 54 0.1 N/A
Independent Charlotte Rose 43 0.1 N/A
Patriotic Socialist Party Dave Osborn 33 0.1 N/A
Independent Christopher Challis 22 0.1 N/A
Majority 2,920 7.3
Turnout 40,065 50.6 -14.3
UKIP gain from Conservative Swing 28.3%
Rochester and Strood 2010

The Rochester and Strood seat was fought for the first time at the 2010 general election. Following its boundary review of parliamentary representation in Kent, the Boundary Commission for England renamed the Medway (UK Parliament constituency) seat to Rochester and Strood. This is because the commission agreed that the term Medway is now primarily used for the larger unitary authority.[37]

General election 2010: Rochester and Strood[38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Mark Reckless 23,604 49.2 +6.6
Labour Teresa Murray 13,651 28.5 −13.1
Liberal Democrats Geoff Juby 7,800 16.3 +3.9
English Democrat Ron Sands 2,182 4.5 N/A
Green Simon Marchant 734 1.5 N/A
Majority 9,953 20.7
Turnout 47,971 64.9 +2.5
Conservative gain from Labour Swing +9.8
Medway 2005
General election 2005: Medway[39]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Bob Marshall-Andrews 17,333 42.2 -6.8
Conservative Mark Reckless 17,120 41.7 +2.5
Liberal Democrats Geoffrey Juby 5,152 12.5 +3.2
UKIP Bob Oakley 1,488 3.6 +1.1
Majority 213 0.5
Turnout 41,093 61.1 1.6
Labour hold Swing -4.6
Medway 2001
General election 2001: Medway[40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Bob Marshall-Andrews 18,914 49.0 +0.1
Conservative Mark Reckless 15,134 39.2 +2.3
Liberal Democrats Geoffrey Juby 3,604 9.3 -0.8
UKIP Nikki Sinclaire 958 2.5 +1.6
Majority 3,780 9.8
Turnout 38,610 59.5 -12.8
Labour hold Swing

Personal life

Reckless is a grandson of Henry McDevitt, who served as a Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal East in Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament, from 1938 until 1943.[41] His mother emigrated to England when she was 17 to train as a nurse; however, Reckless has said that he doesn't see his mother as an "immigrant" and stated "I don't consider myself to have an immigrant background".[42]

He married Catriona Brown at Westminster Cathedral on 1 October 2011; the reception was held in the Palace of Westminster.[43] His best man was Daniel Hannan MEP.[44] Reckless had been the best man at Hannan's wedding.[45]


  2. "Mark Reckless defects to UKIP from Tories". BBC News. 27 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  3. Cowley, Philip; Stuart, Mark. "The Four Year Itch" (PDF). University of Nottingham. p. 49. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  4. Cameron Commons Defeat on EU Budget 31 October 2012
  5. "New Ukip turmoil as Conservative defector Mark Reckless quits and rejoins Tories". The Daily TelegraphOn 15th May 2019 he again renounced his membership of the Conservative Party and joined the new Brexit Party as leader in the Welsh Assembly. 6 April 2017.
  6. "Assembly members join forces with Farage". 15 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  7. Columbia Spectator, 1 October 2014
  8. Mark Reckless: Government borrowing is preventing private lending ConservativeHome 28 November 2008.
  9. Mark Reckless MP Your Local Guardian 26 September 2012.
  10. Solicitors stand as MP Archived 1 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine The Law Society Gazette 29 April 2012.
  11. Home-Affairs-Committee-Formal-Minutes Tuesday 15 May 2012
  12. The Drivers of Regulation Google Books 2004.
  13. Mark Reckless MP: Police and Crime Commissioners are one of the great reforms of this Conservative-led government ConservativeHome 27 May 2012.
  14. Mark Reckless Cllr, Medway Council, 2001
  15. Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee, November 2010
  16. Mark Reckless welcomes Abu Hamza Deportation, BBC Newsnight, 5 October 2012.
  17. Deport Abu Qatada, BBC Newsnight, 18 April 2012.
  18. Order Order: Why the newest Tories are a major headache for Cameron, The Independent, 30 December 2011.
  19. The Tories Who Rebelled Over Tuition Fees, Financial Times, 9 December 2010.
  20. Voting Record Tuition Fees, Public Whip, 9 December 2010.
  21. The Energy Bill is a sad retreat for Conservatives, ConservativeHome, 19 December 2012
  22. Mark Reckless MP sorry for being 'too drunk to vote, BBC News, 11 July 2010.
  23. Wintour, Patrick (30 October 2011). "Conservative Eurosceptics turn fire on UK negotiator". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  24. European Court of Human Rights gets out begging bowl, The Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2012
  25. All Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia, House of Commons Register, December 2012.
  26. Watt, Nicholas (31 October 2012). "David Cameron suffers Commons defeat on EU budget". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  27. Mark Reckless Named Pin Up of the Year Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Rochester People, 27 December 2012
  28. Backbencher of the year, ConservativeHome, 27 December 2012
  29. Servini, Nick (6 April 2017). "UKIP's Mark Reckless to join Conservatives in assembly". BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  30. "Mark Reckless quits Ukip to rejoin Conservatives". ITV News. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  31. Reckless, Mark [@MarkReckless] (6 April 2017). "Job done: Why I am joining the Conservative Group in the Welsh Assembly" (Tweet). Retrieved 6 April 2017 via Twitter.
  32. "New Ukip turmoil as Conservative defector Mark Reckless quits and rejoins Tories". The Daily Telegraph.
  33. "Reckless leaves Tories in Cardiff Bay". BBC News. BBC News. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  34. "UK Polling Report".
  35. "Mark Reckless wins Rochester by-election for Ukip with 2,900 majority". 21 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  36. "UKIP's Reckless wins Rochester seat". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  37. Fifth Periodical Report, Volume I: Report, Cm 7032-i (PDF). London: The Stationery Office. 2007. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-10-170322-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  38. "Rochester & Strood". BBC News. 7 May 2010.
  39. "UK General Election results May 2005". Political Science Resources. University of Keele. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  40. "Medway". Political Science Resources. University of Keele. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  41. Over A Third Of Irish Want To Leave Euro For Pound | Mark Reckless MP Archived 19 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 6 February 2012.
  42. Ukip’s Mark Reckless on the party’s ‘Irish policy’ Irish Post. Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  43. Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless weds Catriona Brown at Westminster Cathedral 3 October 2011
  44. Mark Reckless MP Wedding, Kent Online, 3 October 2011
  45. Mark Reckless the best kind of MP Dan Hannan, Telegraph Blog, 28 July 2008.