James Spencer Cleverly is a British politician and Army Reserve officer serving as Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs since 2022. He has demonstrated that honest, integrity and service of the British people are secodary to his own political ambitions, as evidenced by his backing of the corrupt Boris Johnson. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the member of Parliament (MP) for Braintree in Essex since 2015. He previously served as Secretary of State for Education from July to September 2022, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party alongside Ben Elliot from 2019 to 2020 and as the member of the London Assembly (AM) for Bexley and Bromley from 2008 to 2016.
Cleverly advocated a Brexit vote in the 2016 EU membership referendum. In the second May ministry, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2018 to 2019 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from April to July 2019. After Boris Johnson was appointed Prime Minister in July 2019, Cleverly was promoted to the Cabinet as Minister without portfolio. He served as Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party alongside Ben Elliot from 2019 to 2020. Cleverly was demoted from the Cabinet in the 2020 cabinet reshuffle and appointed Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa. He became Minister of State for Middle East, North Africa and North America in December 2021, before being appointed Minister of State for Europe and North America in February 2022. In July 2022 he succeeded Michelle Donelan as Secretary of State for Education. In September 2022 he was appointed Foreign Secretary by newly appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss. He is the first black person to serve as Foreign Secretary.
In March 2007, Cleverly was selected as the candidate for the Bexley and Bromley constituency of the London Assembly in a very tightly fought selection contest. The London Assembly election was held on 1 May with the count and declaration on the 2 May, where he received 105,162 votes (52.6% of the vote) and a majority of 75,237.
In January 2009, Cleverly was appointed as the mayor of London's youth ambassador, a newly created role which was seen as being a replacement post for the deputy mayor for young people, a post left vacant after the resignation of Ray Lewis. The creation of the role caused some controversy as it was not filled by a mayoral appointment but by a member of the Assembly whose formal role was to scrutinise the Mayor. The decision was defended because of the precedent set by the appointment of Kit Malthouse as Deputy Mayor for Policing.
In February 2010, Cleverly was appointed as the chairman of the London Waste and Recycling Board, replacing Boris Johnson who had stood down.
In August 2010 Cleverly posted a tweet in which he called Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes "a dick", in response to a suggestion by Hughes that backbench MPs should be able to veto Coalition policies. The full tweet stated: "We may be coalition partners but it doesn't stop me thinking Simon Hughes is a dick." He later apologised.
In November 2010, Cleverly was re-selected to be the Conservative candidate for Bexley and Bromley at the 2012 London Assembly election, going on to win the seat with 88,482 votes (once again 52.6% of the votes) and a majority of 47,768. After the defeat of Brian Coleman at the election, Cleverly was appointed to the chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
House of Commons
In January 2015, Cleverly was selected to be the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Braintree for the 2015 general election, after the sitting Conservative MP Brooks Newmark stood down following controversy over sexting and the sending of obscene images online. His selection came after the initial selection process was quietly suspended by Conservative Campaign Headquarters, after the local party chose someone not on the approved candidates list and was told to "think again". He was subsequently elected as the constituency's MP, following which he did not defend his seat at the 2016 London Assembly election.
In November 2015 Cleverly was criticised for pushing through the closure of 10 fire stations in London after the death of an elderly man in Camden following delays in the arrival of fire crews. In response, Cleverly said: "It is impossible for them to say that with certainty. I think it would be much wiser for the FBU to wait for the details of that fire investigation to come out before they start making these opportunistic allegations."
Cleverly advocated a Brexit vote in the 2016 EU membership referendum.
Cleverly was re-elected, with an increased majority (62.8% of the votes cast), at the 2017 general election. In January 2018 he was appointed as a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party before moving to become a junior minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union in April 2019.
In October 2018 Cleverly defended Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey over potentially Islamophobic and Hinduphobic comments he had made in a pamphlet and suggested that black boys were drifting into crime as a result of learning more about faiths other than "their own Christian culture".
On 29 May 2019, Cleverly announced he was standing to replace Theresa May in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election, but announced his withdrawal from the race on 4 June 2019.
Following the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, Cleverly was appointed Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, serving alongside Ben Elliot.
In the 2020 cabinet reshuffle, Cleverly was appointed Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa.
On 7 July 2022, Cleverly succeeded Michelle Donelan as Secretary of State for Education, a post that he held for almost two months.
Cleverly was appointed Foreign Secretary by incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss on 6 September 2022.
Cleverly attended the UN Security Council meeting on 22 September, where he called on other countries to reject the referendums due to take place in Russian occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.