Toby Perkins

Matthew Toby Perkins (born 12 August 1970) is a British Labour Party politician who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Chesterfield since 2010. He has been Shadow Minister for Apprentices and Lifelong Learning since April 2020. Previously he was Shadow Minister for Small Business under Ed Miliband and Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces under Jeremy Corbyn.

Toby Perkins

Perkins in 2017
Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning
Assumed office
9 April 2020
LeaderKeir Starmer
Preceded byPosition established
Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces
In office
14 September 2015  27 June 2016
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byAlison Seabeck
Succeeded byWayne David
Shadow Minister for Small Business
In office
7 October 2011  14 September 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byChuka Umunna
Succeeded byBill Esterson
Member of Parliament
for Chesterfield
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byPaul Holmes
Majority1,451 (3.2%)
Personal details
Born (1970-08-12) 12 August 1970 (age 50)
Reading, Berkshire, England, UK
Political partyLabour
ChildrenLewis and Chloe Perkins

Early life and career

Matthew Toby Perkins was born on 12 August 1970.[1][2] He is the son of V. F. Perkins and his wife Teresa. He has a sister, Polly. He is a great-grandson of A. P. Herbert, Independent Member of Parliament for Oxford University (1935–1950) and a grandson of the poet John Pudney. Perkins attended Trinity Catholic School in Leamington Spa, and Silverdale Comprehensive School in Sheffield.

He worked in the private sector from 1987 until elected to Parliament in 2010. He was in IT Sales: consultant and Regional Manager for the Prime Time Recruitment organisation, and subsequently set up a rugby product business.[3]

Perkins was a councillor for Rother Ward on Chesterfield Borough Council from 2003 to 2011.[4]

He was a Director of Families First Co-operative, a social enterprise that ran an early years nursery in Chesterfield, and set up the Chesterfield Flood Victims Appeal, which raised over £13,000 for victims of the floods in Chesterfield in 2007.

Parliamentary career

Perkins' defeat of Chesterfield's sitting Liberal Democrat MP, Paul Holmes, in 2010 saw him overturn a majority of 3,000 to win by 549 votes, despite a national swing against the Labour Party.[5] Perkins was largely elected owing to retention of the existing Labour vote, as there was a 7.5% swing towards the Conservative Party in the constituency with Labour making a net gain of 61 votes in comparison to 2005.[6][7]

Following Perkins' election to Parliament in 2010, he asked a question in David Cameron's first post-election Prime Minister's Questions in the 2010 session and was named by the Financial Times as one of the best six newcomers of the first 100 days of the 2010 parliament.[8]

He backed David Miliband for the Labour leadership.

Under Ed Miliband, Perkins became the first of the 2010 intake of new members[9] to speak from the front bench when becoming a Shadow Education Minister in September 2010 under Andy Burnham. He was moved into the Shadow Business team as Shadow Minister for Enterprise and Small Business in 2011, under Chuka Umunna. As Shadow Business Minister he was responsible for Labour's policies on Access to Finance, Small Businesses, Regulation/ de-regulation, Insolvency, Procurement, Pubs and the High Street.

He was elected to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

Douglas Alexander appointed him one of three Labour Party Deputy Chairs in July 2014 for the 2015 general election campaign alongside Gloria De Piero and Jonathan Ashworth. He had previously run Labour's by-election campaign in Wythenshawe and Sale East. He also worked on by-election campaigns in Corby, Bradford West and Eastleigh.

Perkins belongs to Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East.[10][11] He is the current chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pub Group, the All Party Parliamentary group on Tennis and was chair of the Labour Friends of the Forces from January 2016 to October 2020.

In parliament he has led Opposition Day debates for Labour on pub company regulation, Sunday trading laws for the Olympics, on the Deregulation Bill alongside Chi Onwurah. He has secured adjournment debates against Derbyshire fire station closures, which led to a U-turn on plans to close 18 Derbyshire fire stations, and against the sale of legal highs.

Perkins proposed in 2016, via a 10-minute private members' bill, that "God Save the Queen" should cease to be the anthem used by English teams at international sporting fixtures. The second reading was due for 4 March,[12][13] but was cancelled.[14]

Perkins was Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn.[15] However, he resigned on 27 June 2016, along with many of his colleagues.[16] He then supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election.[17] He nominated Keir Starmer in the 2020 Labour Party leadership contest.[18]

He campaigned for the UK to remain a member of the European Union ahead of the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.[19]

In 2016, Perkins supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis.[20]

In April 2020, Perkins was appointed as Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning by new party leader Keir Starmer.[21]

Personal life

Perkins was diagnosed with COVID-19 in December 2020.[22]


  1. "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8740.
  2. "Toby Perkins MP". BBC News. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  3. "Lewis". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  4. "Councillor demands inquiry into closure of new park café". Yorkshire Post. 13 July 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  5. "Recount gives Tories Amber Valley". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  6. "Election 2010 – Chesterfield". BBC News.
  7. "Election 2005 – Chesterfield". BBC News.
  8. "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 June 2017. Cite uses generic title (help)
  9. I.e. MPs elected in the 2010 United Kingdom general election
  10. "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 23 March 2018.
  11. "LFPME Parliamentary Supporters". Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.
  12. "MPs back calls for English national anthem". BBC News. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  13. Grierson, Jamie (4 March 2016). "MPs to debate scrapping God Save the Queen at England games". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  14. Henderson, Michael (5 March 2016). "Don't let a meddling Labour MP scrap 'God Save the Queen'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  15. "Toby Perkins MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  16. Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  17. "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  18. "Labour leadership nominations: full list of MPs who backed the five candidates battling to succeed Jeremy Corbyn". The Independent. 13 January 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  19. "Chesterfield May Day 2016 speech- FULL TRANSCRIPT – Toby Perkins MP – Toby Perkins MP". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  20. "The Labour rebels who didn't back the Yemen vote have blood on their hands". The Guardian. 28 October 2016.
  21. Rodgers, Sienna (9 April 2020). "Shadow ministers appointed as Starmer completes frontbench". LabourList. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  22. Perkins, Toby [@tobyperkinsmp] (29 December 2020). "I was diagnosed with Coronavirus on Xmas Eve, have been pretty ill all over Christmas and continue to have great difficulty breathing if I attempt to exert any sort of effort. I know many have had it and had no adverse effects but I wouldn't wish how I'm feeling, on anyone" (Tweet) via Twitter.