Simon Richard Clarke is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities since 2022. He served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2021 to 2022. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland since the 2017 general election.
Following Boris Johnson's appointment as Prime Minister, Clarke was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. In the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle he was moved to the post of Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, before resigning for personal reasons in September 2020. In the 2021 cabinet reshuffle he was returned to government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, becoming the youngest cabinet minister in the ministry. After Johnson resigned in 2022, Clarke supported Liz Truss’s bid to become Conservative leader. Following Truss's appointment as Prime Minister, she appointed Clarke as Levelling Up Secretary.
Clarke unsuccessfully stood as the Conservative candidate in the Middlesbrough constituency in the 2015 general election, coming third and suffering a swing against his party of 2.3%. Whilst being employed as a Policy Advisor to the Conservative MP Graham Stuart, he was selected as the candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in April 2017. He was elected at the 2017 general election winning the seat from Labour after the sitting MP Tom Blenkinsop stood down.
Clarke has served on the Treasury Committee, the Treasury Sub-Committee and the Regulatory Reform Committee. He clashed with both the then-Labour MP for Redcar and the Labour-run Middlesbrough Council over plans for transport improvements in the local area, while he argued against his own party's opposition to onshore windfarms.
On 12 June 2019 the UK Government amended the Climate Change Act of 2008 by introducing a target for a 100% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) in the UK by 2050. At the forefront of this change in policy was Clarke, who, in September 2018, organised a letter signed by more than 130 cross-party MPs which indicated their support for net zero emissions and stressed opportunities for UK businesses, including in the North-East.
Clarke has been an advocate of regeneration both locally and nationally. In his role as Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Clarke said that towns and coastal communities had not shared the benefits of the economic growth experienced in other parts of the UK. Clarke said he supported regenerative measures undertaken by private initiatives in his constituency such as the reopening and expanding of Teesside International Airport, alongside the Tees Valley Mayor's plans to redevelop the SSI steelworks site.
On 27 July 2019 he was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury in Boris Johnson's administration. On 13 February 2020 he had his portfolio changed to a Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, a role he remained in until 8 September 2020, when he resigned for personal reasons.
In a cabinet reshuffle on 15 September 2021, Clarke succeeded Steve Barclay in the cabinet-attending post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Clarke is a strong supporter of Brexit, having voted for the UK to leave the European Union, and is a supporter of the Eurosceptic campaign Leave Means Leave. He called the new Brexit deal secured by Boris Johnson "marvellous news", stating that the "anti-democratic backstop" had been abolished. He was critical of the negotiating approach taken by Theresa May and had submitted a call for a vote of no confidence in her leadership.
On 6 June 2022, after a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Boris Johnson was called, Clarke announced that he would be supporting the Prime Minister, praising his leadership on Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, adding: "He has won every major election he has fought because he is a politician with the capacity both to inspire and to deliver."