Mark Francois


Mark Francois
Official portrait of Rt Hon Mark Francois MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2020
Chair of the European Research Group
Assumed office
3 March 2020
DeputyDavid Jones
Andrea Jenkyns
LeaderBoris Johnson
Preceded bySteve Baker
Deputy Chair of the European Research Group
In office
19 March 2018 – 3 March 2020
Serving with Steve Baker (2018–2019) and Andrea Jenkyns (2019–2020)
LeaderTheresa May
Boris Johnson
ChairmanJacob Rees-Mogg
Steve Baker
Preceded byMichael Tomlinson
Succeeded byDavid Jones
Minister of State for Communities and Resilience
In office
11 May 2015 – 16 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Minister of State for Portsmouth
In office
11 May 2015 – 16 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byMatt Hancock
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
7 October 2013 – 11 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAndrew Robathan
Succeeded byPenny Mordaunt
Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAndrew Robathan
Succeeded byAnna Soubry
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
11 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHelen Jones
Succeeded byGreg Knight
Shadow Minister for Europe
In office
29 May 2007 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byGraham Brady
Succeeded byChris Bryant
Member of Parliament
for Rayleigh and Wickford
Rayleigh (2001–2010)
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded byMichael Clark
Majority31,000 (56.5%)
Personal details
Born (1965-08-14) 14 August 1965 (age 56)
London, England
Political partyConservative
Karen Thomas
(m. 2000; div. 2006)
ResidenceRayleigh, Essex, England
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
King's College London
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1985–1989 part-time reservist
UnitRoyal Anglian Regiment Reserves

Mark Gino Francois (/frɑːnˈswɑː/; born 14 August 1965) is a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rayleigh and Wickford, previously Rayleigh, since the 2001 general election.

Francois served as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household (2010–2012), a Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence (2012–2013) and Minister of State for the Armed Forces (2013–2015). He was also Minister of State for Communities and Resilience and Minister for Portsmouth at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2015 to 2016.[1]

In 2018, he was appointed deputy chair and de facto whip[2][3] of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) by chair Jacob Rees-Mogg. He was a critic of the leadership of Theresa May during her time as leader of the Conservative Party.[4] In March 2020 he became the Chair of the ERG.

Early life and career

Mark Gino Francois was born on 14 August 1965 in Islington, London to Anna (née Carloni) and Reginald Francois.[5] His father was an engineer and his mother was an Italian au pair. The family moved to Basildon, Essex in 1971.[6][7] His secondary education was at the Nicholas Comprehensive School (now part of James Hornsby School).[8] He studied history at the University of Bristol and graduated in 1986.[9] Francois stated that he joined the Conservative Party when he was studying in Bristol.[7] He went on to complete a master's degree in War Studies at King's College London in 1987.[10]

In 1983, whilst at university, he joined the Territorial Army. Francois was commissioned in December 1985 and served with the Royal Anglian Regiment until September 1989, reaching the rank of Lieutenant.[11][12][13][14]

After university, Francois became a management trainee with Lloyds Bank. He then worked as a political consultant for the lobbying company Market Access International in 1988, leaving to set up his own lobbying firm, Francois Associates, in 1996, which he closed when he was elected as MP in 2001.[11][15][16]

Local political career

He was a member of Basildon District Council for the Langdon Hills ward from 1991 to 1995. On the council, he served as vice-chair of the housing committee from 1992 to 1995.[11]

Parliamentary career

Francois stood for the Brent East constituency in the 1997 general election. He came second to the incumbent, Labour's Ken Livingstone. He contested the election to be the Conservatives' prospective parliamentary candidate for Kensington and Chelsea in the 1999 by-election. The contest was won by Michael Portillo, who garnered 60% of the final ballot.[17]

He was selected as the party's candidate for Rayleigh in the 2001 general election.[18] Francois won the seat with a majority of 8,290.[19] He made his maiden speech on 4 July 2001.[20] Francois was re-elected in 2005 with an increased majority of 14,726. The constituency was abolished prior to the 2010 general election. He was elected in the new seat of Rayleigh & Wickford in the election.[8][21]

He served as a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee for the duration of his first term in Parliament. He was promoted to become an Opposition Whip in 2003 by Michael Howard; to Shadow Economic Secretary in May 2004; and later to Shadow Paymaster General (10 May 2005 – 3 July 2007) scrutinising HMRC.

He was promoted to be Shadow Minister for Europe on 3 July 2007, and joined the Shadow Cabinet at the January 2009 reshuffle. As Shadow Minister for Europe Francois oversaw the Conservative Party's withdrawal from the federalist EPP grouping in the European Parliament, the creation of the ECR grouping and the Conservative's opposition in the House of Commons to the Treaty of Lisbon, which he spoke against on many occasions including on 5 March 2008 in the debate to pass the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008.[22]

When the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats joined in a coalition government following the 2010 general election, he was appointed Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, a sinecure given to a Government Whip that entails being kept as 'captive' at Buckingham Palace when the Queen opens Parliament. He joined the Privy Council on 9 June 2010.[23] In 2011, he was a member of the special Select Committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[24]

He was appointed Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans in the Ministry of Defence in September 2012. From October 2013 to May 2015, he was Minister of State with responsibility for the armed forces, cyber activity, and force generation.[25]

Following the 2015 general election, he became Minister of State for Communities and Resilience and Minister for Portsmouth at the Department for Communities and Local Government.[1]

Francois left the government after Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, but she appointed him to conduct a review into the use of reserves in the Army.[26]

Since September 2017, Francois has sat on the Defence Select Committee and is a former member of the Administration Committee, the Committee of Selection, Defence Committee and Environmental Audit Committee.[27] He is a Vice-President of Conservative Friends of Poland.[28]

In 2019, Francois became one of the 28 so called Tory "Brexit Spartans" who voted against Theresa May's Brexit deal all three times it was put to the House of Commons.[29]

At the 2019 general election, Francois was re-elected with an increased majority of exactly 31,000 (7,550 votes more than in the 2017 election)[30] and achieved over 72% of the vote.[31] In January 2020, he launched a crowdfunding bid with the StandUp4Brexit group to raise money for Big Ben to chime upon the UK's departure from the EU.[32]

On 3 March 2020, Francois was announced as chair of the ERG, succeeding Steve Baker.[33][better source needed] In this capacity he wrote to Michel Barnier, head of the task force negotiating the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU, a letter titled "A Missive from a Free Country".[34][35] Barnier replied in an open letter.[36][37]

Personal life

Francois married Karen Thomas at Langdon Hills, Basildon, in June 2000. They divorced in 2006.[6]


  1. ^ a b O'Leary, Miles (14 May 2015). "Essex MP Mark Francois appointed Minister for Portsmouth". Portsmouth News. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
    - "The Rt Hon Mark Francois MP". Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Jacob Rees-Mogg submits letter of no confidence in Theresa May as Michael Gove 'rejects' Brexit Secretary job". Evening Standard. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  3. ^ "The group that broke British politics". The Economist. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Francois: May's time will be up if Euro polls disastrous for Tories". 4 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Francois, Rt Hon. Mark (Gino)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U42285. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.
  7. ^ a b Francois, Mark. "Mark Francois MP: Raised on a council estate and reared on tales of Churchill. Why I am a Conservative". Conservative Home. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Rayleigh and Wickford". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Westminster drinks reception for Bristol alumni". University of Bristol. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Alumnus appointed as Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans". King's College London. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  11. ^ a b c "EAC – back in business". 22 July 2001. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  12. ^ Allen, Nick (3 June 2009). "MPs' expenses: Mark Francois – A bit of an animal". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  13. ^ "No. 50446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 March 1986. p. 3091.
  14. ^ "No. 52088". The London Gazette. 26 March 1990. p. 7031.
  15. ^ Waller, Robert; Criddle, Byron (7 May 2007). The Almanac of British Politics. Routledge. p. 769. ISBN 978-1-135-20676-5.
  16. ^ "Mark Francois". BBC News. 16 October 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  17. ^ Waugh, Paul; Sengupta, Kim (3 November 1999). "Portillo wins Kensington's hearts and minds by a landslide". The Independent. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  18. ^ Waugh, Paul (7 November 2013). "The Forces with him". Politics Home. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Rayleigh". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  20. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Jul 2001 (pt 15)".
  21. ^ "BBC News – Election 2010 – Constituency – Rayleigh & Wickford".
  22. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 05 Mar 2008 (pt 0023)".
  23. ^ "Privy Council Orders". Privy Council. 9 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  24. ^ "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Minister of State for the Armed Forces". Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  26. ^ "New ministerial and government appointments announced on July 17 2016". UK Prime Minister's Office. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  27. ^ "Mark Francois MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  28. ^ Conservative Friends of Poland website Archived 3 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Tominey, Camilla (19 October 2019). "New allegiance of Brexit Spartans could yet win the war for Boris Johnson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Rayleigh & Wickford". BBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Rayleigh & Wickford". BBC News. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  32. ^ Heffer, Greg (15 January 2020). "Tory MP launches crowdfunding bid to make Big Ben 'bong for Brexit'". Sky News. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  33. ^ Baker, Steve. "Steve Baker on Twitter". Twitter.
  34. ^ Adler, Katya (29 June 2020). "Brexit: Face-to-face trade talks between UK and EU begin in Brussels". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  35. ^ Robinson, Anthony (30 June 2020). "Cummings is starting to make the ERG nervous". Yorkshire Bylines. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  36. ^ Cooper, William (14 July 2020). "Barnier schools Head of ERG on how Brexit works". Medium. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  37. ^ "Letter from Michel Barnier to Mark Francois" (PDF). European Commission. Retrieved 17 September 2020.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Rayleigh
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
New constituency
Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford
Political offices
Preceded by Shadow Minister for Europe
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
Succeeded by
Other offices
Preceded by Chair of the European Research Group