23 January 2022

Mark Spencer: From the family farm to Government chief whip

23 January 2022

Government Chief Whip Mark Spencer has said he spoke to Nusrat Ghani after she was demoted from transport minister in 2020, but denies that he said her religion was raised as an issue.

Ms Nusrat told The Sunday Times a Government whip told her that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue during the cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Spencer posted on Twitter to identify himself, but denied the substance of the allegation.

Mr Spencer, 51, is married with children. He was born in Nottinghamshire and went to agricultural college in Bedfordshire before joining his family farm business.

He became chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs in 1999 and attempted to enter politics in 2001 when he lost an election for the Nottinghamshire County Council seat of Hucknail.

Two years later he was elected to the Ravenshead ward of the Gedling District Council.

Mr Spencer entered parliament in 2010 when he won the Sherwood seat after Labour MP Paddy Tipping resigned.

He was criticised in 2015 for saying that jobseekers should “learn the discipline of timekeeping” after a Labour MP said a disabled jobseeker had their payment cut for being four minutes late to an appointment.

As a backbencher he campaigned for the UK to remain a member of the European Union but has publicly supported the party leadership position since the leave result.

In 2019 he told Nottinghamshire Live: “I think we need to get behind Boris and help him get a really good deal, but if we do not get a deal from the European Union then we will have to back the UK and make sure we are OK.”

He was appointed a full government whip in June 2017 and was made chief whip in July 2019.

He told Nottinghamshire Live: “It is a big job. So it’s an exciting opportunity when the nation needs a bit of stability and I’m looking forward to delivering that.”

“Clearly the Prime Minister is trying to get a deal. He’s been in Brussels a lot lately with the aim of getting a deal, but a no deal is something the Government is preparing for.”

Mr Spencer has already been embroiled as chief whip this month over accusations of blackmail in attempts to defend Mr Johnson from potential leadership challenges.

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