Douglas Carswell

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Douglas Carswell
Douglas Carswell.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Clacton
Harwich (2005–10)
In office
5 May 2005 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byIvan Henderson
Succeeded byGiles Watling
Personal details
John Douglas Wilson Carswell

(1971-05-03) 3 May 1971 (age 48)
London, England
Political partyConservative (before 2014, 2017–present)
UKIP (2014–2017)
Independent (2017)
Spouse(s)Clementine Bailey
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
King's College London

John Douglas Wilson Carswell (born 3 May 1971) is a British former Member of Parliament who in 2014 became the first elected MP for the UK Independence Party (UKIP),[1] representing Clacton.[2] From March 2017 to May 2017 (general election), he sat as an independent.[3]

As a member of the Conservative Party, Carswell was elected as the MP for Harwich in 2005 and Clacton in 2010. In August 2014, he changed his political allegiance to UKIP and announced his resignation as an MP. In the subsequent by-election he stood and was returned as a UKIP MP. He explained that he was joining UKIP out of a desire to see "fundamental change in British politics" and because he believed "many of those at the top of the Conservative Party are simply not on our side. They aren't serious about the change that Britain so desperately needs."[4] In 2016 Carswell admitted that he had "jumped ship with the express goal of changing the image of UKIP and ensuring that it was an asset rather than a liability in the referendum campaign…to decontaminate the brand".[5] He left the UK Independence Party on 25 March 2017, to sit as an independent MP.[6][7] He did not stand at the 2017 general election.[8]

Education and early life[edit]

Carswell is the son of two physicians.[9] He lived in Uganda until his late teens. His father, Wilson Carswell, a respected Scottish doctor and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, diagnosed the first confirmed Ugandan cases of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s,[10] and was one of a number of people engaged in drawing the world's attention to the unfolding pandemic.[9] His father's experiences in Uganda were the inspiration for the character Dr Nicholas Garrigan in Giles Foden's novel The Last King of Scotland.[11] Carswell later attributed his libertarianism to his experiences of the "arbitrary rule" of Idi Amin.[12]

The young Carswell was educated at two independent boarding schools for boys: St Andrews School in Turi in Kenya in East Africa, and Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey, in southern England,[13][14][15] followed by the University of East Anglia (UEA), where he was taught by Edward Acton, and graduated with an upper second-class honours bachelor's degree in history in 1993. He then attended King's College London, receiving a master's degree in British imperial history.[16]

Carswell worked as corporate development manager for television broadcasting in Italy from 1997 until 1999, and later for Invesco.[15]

Political career[edit]

At the 2001 general election, Carswell contested Sedgefield, the constituency of Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Conservative candidate. Blair's majority fell by 7,500 votes with Carswell effecting a swing of 4.7% to the Conservatives[17] compared to a national swing of 1.8%. In the months before the 2005 general election, Carswell worked in the Conservative Party's Policy Unit,[15] then run by David Cameron.[18]

Member of Parliament[edit]

First parliamentary term (2005–10)[edit]

Carswell was elected to the House of Commons at the 2005 general election for the constituency of Harwich, defeating Ivan Henderson, the sitting Labour Member of Parliament (MP), by 920 votes. Carswell made his maiden speech on 28 June 2005 in the debate on the Identity Cards Bill.[19] He was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. Carswell served on the House of Commons' Education Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. In 2008, Carswell took part in an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme trip to Afghanistan, after which he called for more resources to be allocated to British troops serving there.[20]

In April 2008, Carswell was reported to be launching plans for Speaker Michael Martin to be removed after the 2010 general election, saying that the Speaker had 'demonstrated that he is not the man to oversee the vital job of restoring faith in Westminster politics'.[21] Martin later became the first Speaker in 314 years to resign after cross-party criticism of his handling of the MPs' expenses scandal.[22]

In December 2009, Carswell tabled a Bill in the House of Commons calling for a public referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.[23] The Daily Telegraph nominated him a Briton of the Year 2009,[24] and Spectator readers voted him their choice as Parliamentarian of the Year in the same year.[25] In February 2010, he asked Gus O'Donnell to suspend Cabinet meetings held outside London,[26] when it was found that the government was using them to host Labour Party events in marginal seats.[27]

Second parliamentary term (2010–15)[edit]

In the new constituency of Clacton that was created from Harwich at the 2010 general election, Carswell increased his majority over Henderson to 12,068 votes. The UK Independence Party decided not to field a candidate against Carswell in the 2010 general election. Instead, UKIP actively campaigned in support of his re-election in view of his staunch anti-EU views.[28]

In the first week of the new parliamentary session of the Conservative-led Government, Carswell revealed he intended to force a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, over the need to resolve an oversight of apportionment in the European Parliament by re-ratifying the treaty.[29][30]

On 28 August 2014, Carswell defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party. Although not required to do so, he resigned his seat as an MP, thus triggering a by-election.[31] Less than a month before switching parties, Carswell had approved a letter from Conservative supporter Giles Watling to a local newspaper describing UKIP as a "one policy party" and saying "a vote for Ukip will be a vote for Labour". He later said he had been "decidedly cool towards the sentiments of the letter."[12][32]

Clacton by-election[edit]

Following Carswell's resignation, Roger Lord, UKIP's nominated candidate for the 2015 general election, declared that he still wanted to stand, although the UKIP National Executive Committee voted to select Carswell.[33] Two early opinion polls showed Carswell with a substantial lead. At the by-election on 9 October 2014, Carswell was successful, with a substantial majority of 12,404 votes over his nearest rival. In the 2015 general election, however, this figure was reduced to 3,437 votes.

Third parliamentary term (2015–17)[edit]

In the 2015 United Kingdom general election, Carswell won the seat of Clacton with a majority of 3,437 – down from a majority of 12,404 in the 2014 by-election. Carswell won UKIP's only seat in the general election.[34][35]

Carswell is a Eurosceptic,[36] and supported Vote Leave – advocating leaving the EU – during the EU referendum in June 2016.[37][38]

In March 2017, Carswell quit UKIP to become an independent MP for Clacton, leaving UKIP with no MPs in Parliament. On quitting the party he said, "Now we can be certain that that [Brexit] is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving Ukip."[3][39]

On 20 April 2017, following the announcement on 18 April 2017 by Prime Minister Theresa May of a snap UK general election, Carswell confirmed he would not be standing as a candidate on 8 June 2017.[40][41]

His relationship with then UKIP party leader Nigel Farage was full of "animosity" and "tension", and he called for Farage to step down as party leader on several occasions.[42][43] Farage has also called Carswell "irrelevant", in response to them supporting different campaigns to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.[44] In response to Carswell calling for the party leader's resignation, Farage said that Carswell should "put up or shut up", further saying that "either he's going to have to accept that [UKIP is unified] or do something different".[45] After Farage's resignation as UKIP leader following the EU referendum, Carswell tweeted a "sunshades smiley emoji",[46] which some parts of the media described as showing the "uneasy relationship" between the two men, Carswell later said to the BBC that "I tweet smiley faces all the time, I'm very optimistic".[47][48] He also said that while Farage had "played a role" in the referendum, the resignation was "a huge opportunity" for the party.[49] This happened a week after Farage suggested that Carswell could be kicked out of the party, saying that "We find somebody inside our party who doesn't agree with anything the party stands for, it's a very odd state of affairs".[50]

Carswell engaged in a Twitter argument with University of Sussex science policy professor Paul Nightingale, after Nightingale compared international trade to the effect that Jupiter and the moon have on the tides, saying "Jupiter is big but the moon moves tides". Carswell claimed that Nightingale was wrong, incorrectly replying "Actually it’s the gravitational pull of the sun. The moon’s gravity does Spring/neap tides." In fact, the opposite is true.[51][52][53][54]

Parliamentary expenses scandal[edit]

After being elected in 2005, Carswell originally designated a £1 million flat in London as his second home, and claimed over £21,000 for food, rent and furniture. In 2007 he began renting a house in Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex, which he designated his second home, and again paid a deposit and for furniture, including a £655 love seat, from his expenses (see Flipping § Second home flipping). Between 2007 and 2009 he claimed £32,000 in expenses for the house. Carswell admitted to using expenses to buy "an armchair, sofa and some bedding, as well as a few other modest items of crockery and furniture", and commented "I believe this is entirely justified".[55][56] In the 2012–13 financial year, he claimed £39,442.86, a larger figure than any other Essex MP. Carswell stated in July 2012 that his expenses had been greater than those of other MPs due to his need to rent accommodation close to parliament.[57]

Influence in the Conservative Party[edit]

Conservative Party commentator and Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Moore credits Carswell, together with MEP Daniel Hannan, as the architects behind the idea of a Great Repeal Bill, as well as the concept of a "Contract with Britain" offered during the election, the "recall" of MPs who have displeased their constituents, open primaries for the selection of parliamentary candidates, and plans for elected police commissioners. According to Moore's analysis not only is "The localism of the Carswell/Hannan "direct democracy" movement is now good Coalition orthodoxy", but Cameron's policy guru, Steve Hilton, "enthusiastically lifted several bits of The Plan", the best-selling moderniser book written by Carswell and co-author Daniel Hannan.[58]

Even before the formation of the Coalition, the influence of Carswell's ideas was evident in speeches made by David Cameron – most notably a speech to the Open University made by David Cameron in Milton Keynes in May 2009.[59]

Influence on UKIP and Leave[edit]

New Statesman commentator Stephen Bush has argued that Carswell was correct to recognise that a successful Brexit campaign depended on its messages being associated with people other than Farage, but also observed that there "is no electoral majority to be found Britain for the libertarian brand of conservatism that Carswell espouses".[60]

Bush also suggested that Carswell's ability to win his seat owed more to the appeal of his party to Clacton's voters than his own personal influence, observing that "the evidence suggests that he has kept his seat thanks to the popularity of the party leaders he has consistently undermined and worked against".[61]

During his time as a UKIP MP, Carswell, along with Mark Reckless and Stephen Crowther, established UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit Limited.[62]

After politics[edit]

Carswell co-founded Disruptive, a data analytics company.[63] Companies House filings show that Carswell resigned as a Director on 10 April 2019. The Company was dissolved on 3/9/2019. No directorships listed as 2 February 2020.[64]

In popular culture[edit]

Carswell was portrayed by actor Simon Paisley Day in the 2019 HBO and Channel 4 produced drama entitled Brexit: The Uncivil War.[65][66]

Personal life[edit]

Carswell and his wife Clementine have a daughter.[18] Carswell's recreations include gardening, swimming, running, blogging, riding and making quince jelly.[15][16][18] In 2012, his blog was getting 25,000 unique hits a month.[67] Lives in Parsons Green,SW London.


  • Direct Democracy – Agenda for a New Model Party[Note 1]
  • Direct Democracy; empowering people to make their lives better.[Note 2]
  • Paying for Localism[Note 3]
  • Chief author of The Localist Papers[Note 4]
  • The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain – co-written with Daniel Hannan.
  • The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy
  • After Osbrown: Mending Monetary Policy
  • Rebel: How to overthrow an emerging oligarchy


  1. ^ 13 June 2005. ISBN 1-84275-057-7
  2. ^ C-change. October 2002. ISBN 1-84275-057-7
  3. ^ Published by the Adam Smith Institute
  4. ^ Published by the Centre for Policy Studies, serialised in the Daily Telegraph May – June 2007. [1]


  1. ^ BBC News, "UKIP gains first elected MP with Clacton win". Accessed 10 October 2014.
  2. ^ Meikle, James (24 January 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell gives Twitter report as he collars shoplifter". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Ukip's only MP Douglas Carswell quits party". the Guardian. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP and forces by-election". BBC News. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  5. ^ 'All Out War', Tim Shipman. William Collins, 2016 p40
  6. ^ "Douglas Carswell quitting UKIP". 25 March 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2017 – via
  7. ^ "Job done – thank UKIP!". 25 March 2017. Archived from the original on 25 March 2017.
  8. ^ Elgot, Jessica; Booth, Robert; Walker, Peter (20 April 2017). "Former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell to step down in Clacton". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  9. ^ a b Powers, Charles T. (24 May 1986). "AIDS Epidemic Sweeps Through Uganda". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Schoofs, Mark (4 July 2000). "Proof Positive". The Village Voice.
  11. ^ Pells, Rachael (10 October 2014). "Douglas Carswell profile: A prolific blogger who makes his own jam". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  12. ^ a b Wright, Oliver (10 October 2014). "Clacton by-election: 12 facts about Ukip's new MP Douglas Carswell". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  13. ^ Chorley, Matt (9 October 2014). "Happy birthday, Dave! Farage on the verge of securing Ukip's first elected MP – giving Cameron a headache on his 48th birthday". Daily Mail. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Douglas Carswell MP". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d "Douglas CARSWELL: Biography". Debrett’s. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Who Is Douglas Carswell? What You Need To Know". Sky News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Results & Constituencies: Sedgefield". BBC. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  18. ^ a b c "Profile: Douglas Carswell MP". BBC News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Identity Cards Bill (28 June 2005)". Hansard. Parliament. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  20. ^ Calvert, Jonathan; Rowell, Andy (31 August 2008). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell 'punished' for damning army kit". The Sunday Times. London.
  21. ^ Carlin, Brendan (28 September 2008). "Tory MP launches fresh bid to oust 'touchy, stubborn' Speaker". Daily Mail. London.
  22. ^ "MPs' expenses: Speaker Michael Martin announces his resignation". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 May 2009.
  23. ^ "European Union Membership (Referendum) Bill 2009–10". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Britons of the Year, 2009". The Daily Telegraph. London. 29 December 2009.
  25. ^ "The Spectator/Threadneedle Parliamentarian Awards". The Spectator. 12 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009.
  26. ^ Coates, Sam; Ralph, Alex (18 February 2010). "Labour uses Cabinet tour to rally party for election". The Times. London.
  27. ^ Kirkup, James (18 February 2010). "Ministers using Cabinet meetings to hold Labour events". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  28. ^ "UKIP will actively campaign for the election of five Conservative candidates and one Labour candidate". 13 April 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  29. ^ Groves, Jason (17 May 2010). "Eurosceptics in plot to force vote on Lisbon Treaty". Daily Mail. London.
  30. ^ "MPs poised to renew calls for Lisbon Treaty referendum". BBC News. 16 May 2010.
  31. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 August 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to Ukip and forces byelection". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  32. ^ Swinford, Steven (7 October 2014). "Douglas Carswell signed off letter attacking Ukip a month before defecting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  33. ^ Quinn, Ben (28 August 2014). "Ukip Clacton candidate calls Carswell's attempt to stand 'bad manners'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  34. ^ "Clacton parliamentary constituency – Election 2015". BBC News. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  35. ^ Dwan, James. "Election 2015 – Ukip's Douglas Carswell retains Clacton seat". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  36. ^ Grice, Andrew (28 August 2014). "Douglas Carswell defection: Eurosceptic ex-Tory MP fires parting shot". The Independent. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  37. ^ Carswell, Douglas (9 October 2015). "Douglas Carswell: Why I'm backing Vote Leave in the EU referendum". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  38. ^ Nisbet, Robert (26 February 2016). "UKIP Infighting Over Rival Leave EU Campaigns". Sky News. Retrieved 26 March 2017. Douglas Carswell supports Vote Leave, which is also...
  39. ^ Randerson, James (25 March 2017). "Douglas Carswell quits UKIP, leaving party with no MPs". POLITICO. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  40. ^ Carswell, Douglas (20 April 2017). "Over and Out". Douglas Carsell. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  41. ^ Stone, Jon (20 April 2017). "Douglas Carswell quits as an MP and says he will vote Tory in general election". The Independent. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  42. ^ Mason, Rowena (18 December 2015). "Ukip's MP Douglas Carswell calls for Nigel Farage to quit as leader". the Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  43. ^ "Ukip's only MP calls for Farage to step down". Mail Online. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  44. ^ UK, The Huffington Post (6 March 2016). "I've Won Four Elections Nigel, Carswell Reminds Ukip Leader". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  45. ^ Mason, Rowena (18 December 2015). "Nigel Farage says Ukip's MP Douglas Carswell 'can put up or shut up'". the Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  46. ^ Douglas Carswell [@DouglasCarswell] (4 July 2016). "😎" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  47. ^ Staufenberg, Jess (4 July 2016). "Ukip's only MP's response to Nigel Farage quitting was a thing of beauty". indy100. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  48. ^ "Douglas Carswell on UKIP leader Nigel Farage resignation". BBC News. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  49. ^ Bernard, Philippe (4 July 2016). "Après le Brexit, la démission de Nigel Farage ouvre la guerre de succession au UKIP" [After Brexit, the resignation of Nigel Farage opens the war of succession to UKIP]. Le (in French). Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  50. ^ Agencies (4 July 2016). "Farage resigns as Ukip chief". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  51. ^ "Ukip MP Douglas Carswell doesn't know the difference between the Sun and the Moon". 20 September 2016.
  52. ^ "Ukip MP in bizarre Twitter row with science expert over tides". 20 September 2016.
  53. ^ Douglas Carswell [@DouglasCarswell] (18 September 2016). "@Nightingale_P @DuncanWeldon actually it's the gravitational pull of the sun. The moon's gravity does Spring / neap tides" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  54. ^ Douglas Carswell [@DouglasCarswell] (19 September 2016). "@Nightingale_P @DuncanWeldon two tides every 24hrs. Caused by earths rotation / Suns gravitational pull. Moon magnifies Spring /neap tides" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  55. ^ Swaine, Jon (3 June 2009). "MPs' expenses: Douglas Carswell claimed £700 in expenses for love seat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  56. ^ Gover, Dominic (28 August 2014). "Douglas Carswell and the £650 'Love Seat' Which Mired Ukip MP in Expenses Scandal". International Business Times. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  57. ^ "Clacton MP Douglas Carswell defends expenses claims". Daily Gazette. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  58. ^ Moore, Charles (2 July 2010). "Who will admit that the Right ways are not the wrong ways?". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  59. ^ "Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell wrote David Cameron's speech today on devolving power – thetorydiary". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  60. ^ "Faragism, not Carswellism, will shape the UK's post-Brexit future". Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  61. ^ Bush, Stephen (28 March 2017). "Stop talking about Douglas Carswell's personal vote. He won his seat because of Ukip".
  62. ^ "UKIP PARLIAMENTARY RESOURCE UNIT LIMITED - Filing history (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ Bennett, Asa (28 December 2018). "Brexit: The Uncivil War review: Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in this thrilling romp through the referendum". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  66. ^ Elliott, Matthew (4 January 2019). "Vote Leave's Matthew Elliott on Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 January 2019. Screenwriter James Graham has turned the campaign into a compelling story — and nailed my mannerisms
  67. ^ McSmith, Andy (11 June 2012). "Should we fear the gospel according to Douglas Carswell?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ivan Henderson
Member of Parliament
for Harwich

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Clacton

Succeeded by
Giles Watling