- 1. Early life
- 2. Political career
- 3. Personal life
- 4. Awards
Organization: Parliament of the United Kingdom
Date of Birth: 2 January 1980
Age: 43 years old
Place of Birth: Wimbledon, London, England
Olukemi Olufunto Badenoch (born 2 January 1980) is a British politician serving as Minister of State for Levelling Up Communities and Minister of State for Equalities since 2021. A member of the Conservative Party, she has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Saffron Walden since 2017.
Badenoch was born in Wimbledon, London, to parents of Nigerian origin. Her childhood was spent in part in the US, and in Lagos, Nigeria. She returned to the United Kingdom at the age of 16. After studying Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Sussex, Badenoch worked as a software engineer at Logica. She went on to work at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group as a systems analyst before working as an associate director at Coutts and later as a director at The Spectator magazine.
In 2012, Badenoch unsuccessfully contested a seat on the London Assembly. Three years later, she was selected as a London Assembly member. Badenoch supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. She was elected for Saffron Walden at the 2017 general election. Badenoch served as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities from 2020 to 2021. In September 2021, she was promoted to Minister of State for Equalities and appointed Minister of State for Levelling Up Communities.
Badenoch was born in 1980 in Wimbledon, London, to Femi and Feyi Adegoke. Her father was a GP and her mother is a professor of physiology. Badenoch's childhood included time living in the United States (where her mother lectured) and Lagos, Nigeria. Whilst in Nigeria she attended the fee-paying International School University of Lagos and happily describes her time as a middle-class Yoruba school girl. Badenoch holds British citizenship owing to her birth in the United Kingdom. She returned to the UK at the age of 16 to live with a friend of her mother's. She obtained A Levels from the Phoenix College in Morden, London, while working at a branch of the fast food company McDonald's.
Badenoch studied Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Sussex, completing an MEng in 2003. She initially worked within the IT sector first as a software engineer at Logica (later CGI Group) from 2003 to 2006. While working there she studied law part-time at Birkbeck, University of London and completed an LLB in 2009. Badenoch then worked as a systems analyst at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, before pursuing a career in consultancy and financial services, working as an associate director of private bank and wealth manager Coutts from 2006 to 2013 and later a digital director at The Spectator from 2015 to 2016.
Badenoch joined the Conservative Party in 2005 at the age of 25. At the 2010 general election, she contested the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency against Labour's Tessa Jowell and came third behind Jowell, and Jonathan Mitchell (the Liberal Democrat candidate).
Two years later, Badenoch stood for the Conservatives in the London Assembly election where she was placed fifth on the London-wide list. The election saw the Conservatives win only three seats from the London-wide list, so Badenoch was not elected. Three years later, in the 2015 general election, Victoria Borwick was elected to the House of Commons and subsequently resigned her seat on the London Assembly. The fourth-placed candidate on the list, Suella Fernandes, had also been elected to the House of Commons, and declined to fill the vacancy. Badenoch (as she became, following her marriage in 2012) was therefore declared to be the new Assembly Member. She went on to retain her seat in the Assembly in the 2016 election. Badenoch supports a repeal of the ban on fox hunting.
Badenoch was elected as MP for Saffron Walden at the 2017 general election with 37,629 votes and a majority of 24,966 (41.0%). She had also made the shortlist to be the Conservative Party candidate in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. In her maiden speech on 19 July, she described the vote for Brexit as "the greatest ever vote of confidence in the project of the United Kingdom" and cited her personal heroes as the Conservative politicians Winston Churchill, Airey Neave, and Margaret Thatcher.
In the same month, Badenoch was selected to join the 1922 Executive Committee. In September, she was appointed to the parliamentary Justice Select Committee.
She was appointed as the Conservative Party's Vice Chair for Candidates in January 2018. In April 2018, The Mail on Sunday obtained a video of an interview that Badenoch did with Core Politics, where she confessed to hacking into the website of a Labour MP in 2008. The MP in question was Harriet Harman, who was then Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Harman accepted Badenoch's apology, but the matter was reported to Action Fraud, the UK's cyber crime reporting centre.
In July 2019, Badenoch was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Badenoch supported Brexit in the 2016 UK EU membership referendum. She voted for Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement in early 2019. In the indicative votes on 27 March, she voted against a referendum on a withdrawal agreement and against a customs union with the EU. In October, Badenoch voted for Johnson's withdrawal agreement. In the December general election, she was re-elected with an increased majority of 27,594 (43.7%) votes.
In February 2020, Badenoch was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) in the Department for International Trade. She has been a member of the Public Accounts Committee since March 2020. In a Black History Month debate in the House of Commons in October 2020, she reiterated the government's opposition to primary and secondary schools teaching white privilege and similar "elements of critical race theory" as uncontested facts.
ConservativeHome readers voted Badenoch's speech on critical race theory 2020 'speech of the year', in which she said that any school that teaches "elements of political race theory as fact, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law".
Badenoch published a series of tweets in January 2021 in which she included screenshots of questions sent to her office by HuffPost journalist Nadine White who she, as a result, accused of "creepy and bizarre behaviour". White subsequently had to make her Twitter account private due to the abuse she received. Badenoch's actions were criticised by both the National Union of Journalists and the Council of Europe's Safety of Journalists Platform. She was defended by the prime minister's press secretary who commented that it was all a "misunderstanding".
In March 2021, Badenoch was encouraged to "consider her position" as an equalities minister by Jayne Ozanne, one of a group of three government LGBT advisers who quit their roles due to the decision by the government not to ban conversion therapy, with Ozanne describing a speech by Badenoch on the issue as being "appalling" and the "final straw".
During a debate in the House of Commons in April 2021, Badenoch criticised the Labour Party's response to a report compiled by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which had declared Britain was not institutionally racist. Labour had described the report as "cherry-picking of data", while the party's former frontbench MP Dawn Butler claimed the report was "gaslighting on a national scale", describing those who put it together as "racial gatekeepers." Badenoch accused Labour of "willful misrepresentations" over the report and responded to Butler's comments by stating "It is wrong to accuse those who argue for a different approach as being racism deniers or race traitors. It's even more irresponsible, dangerously so, to called ethnic minority people racial slurs like Uncle Toms, coconuts, house slaves or house negroes for daring to think differently."
In August 2021, she was tipped as favourite to succeed Gavin Williamson as Secretary of State for Education.
In a government reshuffle in September 2021, Badenoch was promoted to Minister of State for Equalities and appointed Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Shortly after her appointments, Vice News said they had received leaked audio from 2018 in which Badenoch mocked gay marriage, referred to trans women as "men" and used the term transsexual. Within days of her appointments, her title of Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was changed to Minister of State for Levelling Up Communities.
Kemi is married to Hamish Badenoch; they have two daughters and a son. Hamish works for Deutsche Bank and was a Conservative councillor from 2014 to 2018 on Merton London Borough Council, representing the Village ward (centred on Wimbledon Village).
Badenoch was a board member of the Charlton Triangle Homes housing association until 2016, and was also previously a school governor at St Thomas the Apostle College in Southwark, and the Jubilee Primary School (both in London).
In 2017, Badenoch was listed at number 96 on Conservative political commentator Iain Dale's list of that year's '100 most influential people on the Right'.
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