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Richard Holden (British politician)

Richard Holden
Official portrait, 2023
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
13 November 2023
LeaderRishi Sunak
Preceded byGreg Hands
Minister without Portfolio
Assumed office
13 November 2023
Prime MinisterRishi Sunak
Preceded byGreg Hands
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport
In office
28 October 2022 – 13 November 2023
Prime MinisterRishi Sunak
Preceded byKatherine Fletcher
Succeeded byGuy Opperman
Member of Parliament
for North West Durham
Assumed office
12 December 2019
Preceded byLaura Pidcock
Majority1,144 (2.4%)
Personal details
Born (1985-03-11) 11 March 1985 (age 38)
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Political partyConservative
Alma materLondon School of Economics
WebsiteOfficial website

Richard John Holden (born 11 March 1985) is a British politician who has been Chairman of the Conservative Party and Minister without Portfolio since November 2023. He has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for North West Durham since the 2019 general election. He is the first Conservative MP in the constituency's history. Holden served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport from October 2022 to November 2023.

Early life and political career

Richard John Holden was born on 11 March 1985 in Blackburn, Lancashire, to Mark and Joan Holden.[1][2] He grew up in Grindleton, a village in the Ribble Valley area. Holden attended Grindleton Primary School, Ermysted's Grammar School in Skipton and Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Blackburn.[3][4] He then went to St Mary's College in Blackburn, before studying at the London School of Economics, graduating with a BSc in Government and History in 2007.[2][5] Holden was employed as a waiter and bar staff for Emporium Ltd in Clitheroe from 2002 to 2006.[2]

Holden started work at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) in August 2007, initially as a Data Entry Officer. The following year, he became a Media Monitoring Officer, and was a Duty Press Officer from 2008 to 2010.[6] Holden was Political Press Advisor from 2010 to 2012, and promoted to Deputy Head of Press in 2012.[7]

At the 2015 general election he stood as a Conservative candidate in the Labour safe-seat of Preston.[3][8] Holden finished in second place with 20.0% of the vote, behind the incumbent Mark Hendrick.[9][10] After the election, he became a special adviser to Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords Baroness Stowell of Beeston, before leaving to work for Theresa May's 2016 Conservative Party leadership election campaign. He also worked for Stowell's successor as Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park,[11] before becoming a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, between October 2016 and April 2017.[12]

Holden became a special adviser to former Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling in December 2018,[13] before leaving to work on Boris Johnson's 2019 Conservative Party leadership election campaign. He then worked as a special adviser to Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson from August to November 2019.[7] When Parliament was dissolved for the election, Holden began working for CCHQ, before being selected as a PPC for North West Durham.[14]

Parliamentary career

Holden was elected as the MP for North West Durham at the 2019 general election with a majority of 1,144 votes.[15] He is the first Conservative to be elected in the constituency,[6] as it had previously been a safe Labour seat. Labour had won the seat in nineteen consecutive elections ever since its re-establishment in 1950.[16]

Holden was a member of the Public Accounts Committee between March 2020 and March 2022.[17] Since he became an MP he has written a fortnightly column for the political blog ConservativeHome.[18] Holden was elected to the Executive of the 1922 Committee in July 2021.[19] He is on the committee of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm,[20] and has spoken and written extensively about his view that there must be tighter regulation of online gambling.[21][22]

He led a campaign to reverse the increase in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) paid on new motorhomes.[23] The tax had been increased in September 2019 in response to EU regulation 2018/1832.[24] In the March 2020 Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that the VED increase would be reversed, a tax cut worth £25 million a year to consumers and the industry.[25][26]

In March 2021 Holden led a group of 80 Conservative MPs in writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him to introduce a new lower duty for beer sold on draught in pubs.[27] He continued his campaign alongside fellow Conservative MP Mike Wood in meetings with Treasury Ministers, and in October 2021 he gathered more than 100 Conservative MPs to push the issues ahead of the 2021 Budget.[28][29] In the 2021 Budget the government announced a new Draught Beer Duty rate for pubs and clubs 5 per cent lower than standard beer duty, cutting the tax on beer and cider sold in pubs by £100 million a year.[30][31] Rishi Sunak credited both Holden and Wood for campaigning on the issue in his Budget Speech.[32][33]

On 22 April 2022 Holden called for Durham Constabulary to investigate Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Labour Party, following reports in the media regarding potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations by attending a staff gathering during an election campaign that month.[34] Durham Constabulary announced an investigation into the event on 6 May 2022.[35] 8 July 2022, Durham Constabulary announced that they would not be issuing any fixed penalty notices as they determined the gathering was covered by the "reasonably necessary work" exception in the regulations.[36]

Holden endorsed Rishi Sunak in the July–September 2022 Conservative Party leadership election.[37][38] He was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport in October 2022.[39] Holden became Chairman of the Conservative Party and Minister without Portfolio on 13 November 2023 as part of a cabinet reshuffle.[40][41]

He was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council on 13 December 2023 at Buckingham Palace following his appointment, entitling him to the honorific prefix "The Right Honourable" for life.[42]

Personal life

Holden is a member of the Carlton Club in London and the Steel Club in Consett.[2] In May 2021 Holden was fined £100 for dropping a cigarette outside an election count venue during the 2021 local elections. He had previously led a litter-picking campaign in 2020.[43]

Sexual assault allegation

In 2018, Holden appeared in court facing a charge of sexual assault, following an accusation of groping from 2016. Holden denied this, and was acquitted by a jury in May 2018.[44]


  1. ^ "Members Sworn". 17 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Holden, Richard John, (born 11 March 1985), MP (C) North West Durham, since 2019". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. 2020. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u293996. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Grindleton man wants to Conservative MP for Preston". Clitheroe Advertiser. 26 January 2015.
  4. ^ "East Lancs-born and raised MP gets ministerial job in transport". Lancashire Telegraph. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
  5. ^ Zeffman, Henry (8 November 2017). "Fallon's former adviser Richard Holden denies party assault". The Times.(subscription required)
  6. ^ a b Bond, Daniel (16 December 2019). "Class of 2019: Meet the new MPs". Politics Home.
  7. ^ a b George, Michael (13 August 2019). "Chris Grayling aide to advise Gavin Williamson at DfE". Times Educational Supplement.
  8. ^ Dodds, Laurence (10 April 2015). "Has your constituency already been won in the 2015 general election? Find out here". The Daily Telegraph.
  9. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  10. ^ "Preston". BBC News Online. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Holden joins Newington boosting Corporate Affairs offer". Public Affairs Networking. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Appointment of Richard Holden as special adviser to Sir Michael Fallon" (PDF). 27 November 2017. p. 1.
  13. ^ Blanchard, Jack (11 December 2018). "Politico London Playbook: May's diplomatic dash — Vultures circle back home — Monday in parliament". Politico Europe.
  14. ^ Hope, Christopher; Louloudis, Theodora (17 December 2019). "How these new Tory MPs went from selected to elected in just four weeks". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 23 February 2020.(subscription required)
  15. ^ "Durham North West Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  16. ^ Williams, Francesca; Moody, Lucy (14 December 2019). "Durham North West: The 'no-hope' seat the Tories won". BBC News.
  17. ^ "Parliamentary career for Mr Richard Holden". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Richard Holden". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  19. ^ @RicHolden (20 July 2021). "Delighted to have been elected to the executive the of 1922 committee of backbench @Conservatives MPs I'll be the first North East MP on it for some time, so will be a voice for our region too I'm particularly glad to be joining my fellow 2019 MPs @GarySambrook89 & @Nicola4WBE!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Interel. "About the APPG for Gambling Related Harm". Gambling Related Harm APPG. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  21. ^ "MP welcomes wide-ranging review of gambling laws". The Northern Echo. 8 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  22. ^ "Richard Holden and James Wild: Ministers must bring gambling regulation into the 21st Century". Conservative Home. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Rishi Sunak told by 'red wall' Conservative MPs to reverse EU directive". The Telegraph. 28 February 2020.(subscription required)
  24. ^ Hirst, David (6 September 2019). "Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for new motorhomes". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  25. ^ Morkis, Stefan (11 March 2020). "UK Budget: Perthshire firm welcomes motorhome tax U-turn". The Courier. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  26. ^ "The spending review reveals the strains on the Tory party". The Economist. 26 November 2020. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  27. ^ "Support for County Durham MP's draught beer duty campaign". The Northern Echo. 2 April 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Budget 2021: More than 100 MPs urge Rishi Sunak to cut duty for draught beer". Sky News. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  29. ^ O'Donoghue, Dan (21 October 2021). "North East MPs call on Rishi Sunak to cancel planned beer duty hike". ChronicleLive. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  30. ^ Fisher, Lucy; Boland, Hannah (27 October 2021). "Pubs toast 'draught relief' in alcohol duty shakeup". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  31. ^ "Alcohol tax slashed for beer and prosecco – how duty changes will affect drinkers and producers". The i. 27 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Is smooth Sunak's honeymoon period coming to an end?". The Guardian. 30 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  33. ^ O'Donoghue, Dan (27 October 2021). "Everything in Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget for the North East". ChronicleLive. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  34. ^ Elgot, Jessica (15 May 2022). "Labour activists call on Tory MP to withdraw Beergate allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  35. ^ Dodd, Vikram; Walker, Peter (6 May 2022). "Keir Starmer faces police investigation over lockdown breach claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  36. ^ Walker, Peter; Weaver, Matthew; Dodd, Vikram (8 July 2022). "Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner cleared by Durham police of breaking lockdown rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  37. ^ @TomSheldrickITV (14 July 2022). "New: North West Durham MP @RicHolden tells me he's voting for @RishiSunak for Conservative leader & PM He says the former Chancellor is "prepared to make the tough choices" Tory leadership race & more on Around the House – after the late news tonight @itvtynetee @ITVborder" (Tweet). Retrieved 14 July 2022 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ "Durham MP Richard Holden says former Chancellor Rishi Sunak will run again to be prime minister". ITV News. 20 October 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  39. ^ "Ministerial Appointments commencing: 25 October 2022". Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  40. ^ Edgar, Bill (13 November 2023). "Who is Richard Holden? The new Conservative Party chair". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  41. ^ "Richard Holden MP". Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  42. ^ "Orders for 13 December 2023" (PDF). Privy Council Office. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  43. ^ "Conservative MP Richard Holden fined £100 for dropping cigarette". BBC News. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  44. ^ "Ex-aide to Michael Fallon cleared of sexual assault". BBC News. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byLaura Pidcock Member of Parliamentfor North West Durham 2019–present Incumbent Political offices Preceded byGreg Hands Minister without Portfolio 2023–present Incumbent Party political offices Preceded byGreg Hands Chairman of the Conservative Party 2023–present Incumbent
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Richard Holden (British politician)
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