Politics

‘A premature expostulator’

fifty quotes by and about
Barry Gardiner
born 1957
Labour MP for Brent North 1997–


‘Barry Gardiner, b March 10, 1957. Arbitrator of maritime casualties; occasional lecturer for Acad of National Economy, Moscow. Cambridge city cllr (Mayor 1992). Member, MSF/GMB; Co-op Party. Ed Glasgow HS; Haileybury; St Andrews and Cambridge Univs; Harvard (JFK scholar).’ – Times profile of newly elected MPs (1997) [1]

‘Barry Gardiner, 43, Brent North, Maj: 4,019. Former life: shipping arbitrator. Parliamentary job: Procedure and public accounts committees. He’s clever but he can’t conceal desperation for office. An assiduous if not electric attender in the House, Gardiner has a reputation for speaking up for the underdog. He accused the FA of using the emotive subject of the Twin Towers to cover up bungling on the Wembley redevelopment, and has campaigned (unsuccessfully) for leasehold reform. However, his best press so far has been for kissing a pet snail at a fete. Bills: One. Toady factor: 7/10 Impact factor: 3/10’ – Evening Standard profile, under headline ‘Is this the best London can do?’ (2000) [2]

‘If you look at Brent North last time we had the largest swing in any General Election since 1945. This time we had the largest swing for Labour throughout the country, 9.77 per cent. That tells you that there is something very different in Brent North. I don’t think it has anything to do with a low turnout.’ – Barry Gardiner, on being re-elected (2001) [3]


‘Speaking for the unctuous, Barry Gardiner has the syrupy voice, the beard and the ingratiating manner of the genie (“your wish is my command”) in Aladdin.’ – Matthew Parris (2001) [4]

‘I must apologise, Madam Speaker, for my premature expostulation.’ – Barry Gardiner to Betty Boothroyd (1999) [5]

‘He comes across as rather mild mannered, unlike his father, Jackie, who played football for Great Britain at the 1936 Olympics. Britain were beaten 5-4 by Poland in a quarter-final tie in which the combative Glaswegian was given his marching orders. The Guardian reported that he had been “sent off for kicking God”, although that was a trademark typo. They meant the Poland striker Hubert Gad. After the Olympics, Gardiner taught a young Alex Ferguson. The future Manchester United manager complained when an opponent bit him during a match. “Bite him back,” Gardiner advised.’ – Times (2017)[6]

‘I must admire your bladder.’ – Barry Gardiner to John Bercow (2015) [7]


‘Can I express my concern and ask for his assurance that the Government in modernising welfare will continue to protect those in greatest need?’ – Barry Gardiner to Alistair Darling, who was introducing the Welfare Reform Bill (1999) [8]

‘The critical factor in clamping down on benefit fraud is to get the right payments going to the right person.’ – Barry Gardiner (2001) [9]

‘Labour MP Barry Gardiner added his voice to the howls of protest by accusing the couple [on TV series Wife Swap] of failing to set the right example to their children, aged between three and thirteen. And he said the benefits system was intended to help families whose children were trapped in poverty and not stop those who can work from getting jobs.’ – Express (2003) [10]


‘Northern Ireland minister Barry Gardiner represents Brent North, yet claims for another home in Westminster, only a few miles down the Bakerloo line. Quite why he needs a second home near the factory is beyond me. Red Ken lives in Brent and manages to struggle in to work at the Glass Goolie most days without feeling the need to have a second drum on the river. But if Gardiner thinks a flat in town is essential, that’s a matter for him. He shouldn’t expect the taxpayer to pick up his mortgage payments.’ – Richard Littlejohn (2004) [11]

‘Barry Gardiner – entitled to a chauffeur-driven car as a Labour minister – claimed £4,213 mileage.’ – Evening Standard (2007) [12]

‘Barry Gardiner claimed the full £22,110, and according to the website theyworkforyou.com, ranks 19th out of 645 MPs for the size of his expenses. In nearby Brent East, the Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather claimed nothing in additional costs (though she took the London supplement of £2,712 in its place) and ranked only 578th on the list of expenses.’ – Guardian (2008)[13]

‘Barry Gardiner employs his wife Caroline Smith as office manager/secretary.’ – Evening Standard (2009) [14]

‘Barry Gardiner, the former environment minister, made a profit of almost £200,000 after buying a Westminster flat and claiming thousands of pounds to renovate the property. Mr Gardiner’s main home is only eight miles from Parliament.’ – Daily Telegraph (2009) [15]

‘Barry Gardiner submitted a receipt for £299-worth of “travel goods” from Harrods, which he had bought as a leaving gift for one of his employees. When confronted over the claim, Mr Gardiner said it had been turned down by the fees office and he had ended up paying for the gift out of his own pocket.’ – Harrow Times (2009) [16]

‘[At a public meeting, Barry Gardiner] said: “I have always operated not just within the letter of the rules, but I have also tried to operate within the spirit of the rules, making sure claims I submitted were ones I genuinely believed to have been reasonable and appropriate.” In often heated exchanges, Mr Gardiner sought to justify some of the expenses claims he has submitted including £265 for bed linen from Harrods. He told the crowd it was on “special offer” at the time he bought the linen, and it was actually cheaper to buy it at Harrods than at Marks and Spencers or Debenhams.’ – Harrow Times (2009) [17]


‘MPs are backing London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games with the launch of the All-Party Olympics Group tomorrow. Barry Gardiner, the Brent North MP leading the group, insists: “Parliament has a major role to play. We look forward to playing our full part in delivering a successful 2012 bid.” Hmmm, sounds like a good excuse for more “factfinding” missions to Sydney, Athens and Paris.’ – Julia Hartley-Brewer (2003) [18]

‘You have to pity the onerous workload of those trojans of Westminster, the selfless heroes who make up the all-party parliamentary committee on wine. These intrepid legislators set out today on a gruelling two-day tour of the champagne region of France for the benefit of their constituents. Woe betide any of you who regard this fact-finding mission as a junket. These next 48 hours will be hard work for the eleven parliamentarians, led by Barry Gardiner, chairman of the committee.’ – Andrew Pierce (2003) [19]

‘Barry Gardiner MP, chairman of the Bushmeat Campaign…’ – Guardian (2004) [20]

‘Barry Gardiner MP, Chair of the Forestry Dialogue for Globe International…’ – M2 Presswire (2008) [21]

‘Barry Gardiner MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on UK/India Trade and Investment…’ – Times (2010) [22]

‘Barry Gardiner MP, chair of Labour Friends of India…’ – Independent (2011) [23]

‘Barry Gardiner has accepted £52,071 in foreign trips since the election, spending a total of 73 days out of the country as Vice-President of Globe International – an international group representing parliamentarians.’ – Independent (2012) [24]

artwork-barry-gardiner


‘He is not a popular prime minister, but he would continue to have my support if he showed sound judgement, international leadership and political vision. Instead, we have vacillation, loss of international credibility and timorous political manoeuvres that the public cannot understand.’ – Barry Gardiner, on Gordon Brown (2008) [25]

‘Former minister Barry Gardiner, a special envoy on forestry for the prime minister, confirmed that he had requested leadership nomination papers be sent out to all Labour MPs. Downing Street later said he had been “relieved of his responsibilities” as a consequence.’ – Guardian (2008) [26]

‘Barry Gardiner, who as a young man harboured ambitions to join the priesthood, emerged from backbench obscurity in 2016 and now spreads his leader’s gospel with evangelising zeal.’ – Times (2018) [27]

‘Barry Gardiner – promoted to the shadow energy secretary role after the mass resignations – said MPs had to recognise the PLP “does not own the Labour Party”.’ – Daily Telegraph (2016) [28]

Tom [Watson] is a colleague of mine as all the Shadow Cabinet are. We need to focus on a unity of purpose. The last thing we want is for us to try to replicate the disagreements and the fighting that’s going in the Conservative Party at the moment.’ – Barry Gardiner (2017) [29]

‘We’d have quality controls on all migration into this country. When we are talking about economic migration, the economy has to work in favour of the British people and the British public.’ Barry Gardiner (2016) [30]

‘Ken Loach was absolutely wrong.’ – Barry Gardiner, after Loach said that Labour MPs attending an anti-Semitism demonstration ‘are the ones we need to kick out’. (2018) [31]

‘Labour’s Pound-Shop Trump’ – The Times headline on Barry Gardiner (2017) [32]


‘Oh, you’ve got to be joking! Oh no. Please God, no. Oh shit! I can’t believe it. That is the pits. That is the pits!’ – Barry Gardiner, on being told that he was born on the same day as Osama bin Laden (2003) [33]

‘Tony Blair’s statement [on Iraq] was received in respectful silence with one or two dense “Amens” from his back benchers. Barry Gardiner’s long, lubricated tongue came snaking over the benchback dripping a question so vile that his promotion must be imminent.’ – Simon Carr (2002) [34]

‘Those MPs who oppose independent action [in Iraq] must explain why something they believe to be right and justified when undertaken by many nations together becomes wrong and unjustified if we should act alone.’ – Barry Gardiner (2002) [35]

‘I would still support military action if we didn’t get a second resolution ­– yes.’ – Barry Gardiner, on the invasion of Iraq (2003) [36]

‘Three London Labour MPs are among the handful who oppose British military involvement in Libya. Hayes and Harlington’s John McDonnell, Islington North’s Jeremy Corbyn and Brent North’s Barry Gardiner voted against Britain enforcing the UN security council’s resolution.’ – Evening Standard (2011) [37]

‘I’m really pleased that we could have a Prime Minister who is reluctant and thinks carefully before putting our service men and women in harm’s way, who won’t simply jump to the tune the moment that a US president snaps their fingers and says “Come and join me on a bombing raid”.’ – Barry Gardiner on Jeremy Corbyn (2017) [38]

‘If this country were under military threat, at risk of being attacked by another nation, of course [Jeremy Corbyn] as Prime Minister, and of course a Labour cabinet, would be wanting to ensure our security.’ – Barry Gardiner (2017) [39]


‘You need only look at the comments of Liam Fox’s shadow, Barry Gardiner, in respect of the Brexit issue, and you do wonder where is the Opposition?’ – Chuka Umunna (2018) [40]

‘We have started a nuclear chain reaction in which no one knows the outcome.’ – Barry Gardiner, on the outcome of the EU referendum (2016) [41]

‘The logic of saying the Prime Minister can trigger Article 50 without first setting out to Parliament the terms and basis upon which her Government seeks to negotiate; indeed without even indicating the red lines she will seek to protect, would be to diminish Parliament and assume the arrogant powers of a Tudor monarch. Parliament cannot be sidelined from the greatest constitutional change our country has debated in forty years.’ – Barry Gardiner (2016) [42]

‘Whilst every effort should be made to promote business and trade, this must not be at the expense of the protection and enhancement of workers’ rights, environmental safeguards and the wider interests of the British people.’ – Barry Gardiner (2016) [43]

‘The economic cost and the sheer volume of jobs at risk in the immediate aftermath of a withdrawal from the customs union has been ignored.’ – Barry Gardiner (2016) [44]

‘Brexit is more difficult for the Labour Party than any other party, that’s absolutely clear. If you look at all Labour voters across the country, about two-thirds of them support Remain but if you look at Labour constituencies, that is constituencies with a Labour MP, two-thirds of them support Leave. That means we are as a party much more reflective of and representative of the divisions that actually exist in our country than any other party.’ – Barry Gardiner (2017) [45]

‘[Theresa May] has taken off the table membership of the single market. We’ve said let’s look at that and see if it can be reformed. But the key thing is not to get hung up on the membership of the single market, but to be assured of the benefits that it can bring for our economy and for our jobs.’ – Barry Gardiner (2017) [46]

‘A bungling Jeremy Corbyn ally went on ITV with a pro-Remain sticker on his iPad on the day Labour set out its Brexit strategy. Barry Gardiner was telling Good Morning Britain viewers that Labour “respected” the decision to quit when host Susanna Reid asked why he was showing the “I’m In” label.’ – Sun (2017) [47]

‘What we have said very clearly in the Labour Party is that we believe we want to secure the benefits both of the single market and the customs union. The key thing is we have a Brexit for jobs, a Brexit which is good for our economy, not just a Brexit which is based around an immigration policy.’ – Barry Gardiner (2017) [48]

‘Well let’s just take one test – the exact same benefits. Bollocks. Always has been bollocks and it remains it. We know very well that we cannot have the exact same benefits and actually it would have made sense – because it was the Tories that said they were going to secure the exact same benefits – and our position should have been to say they have said they are going to secure the exact same benefits and we are going to hold them to that standard.’ – Barry Gardiner, on the Labour Party’s six tests for Brexit (2018) [49]

‘I think we must also recognise that there are real economic reasons why people have played up the issue of the Irish border and the need to have the shibboleth of the Good Friday agreement. And that is because it is hugely in the Republic of Ireland’s economic interest to make sure that there is no tariff and no external border there.’ – Barry Gardiner (2018) [50]


see also:


[1] Times 3 May 1997

[2] Evening Standard 25 September 2000

[3] Greater London, Kent, and Surrey Counties Publications 13 June 2001

[4] Times 4 December 2001

[5] Times 8 December 1999

[6] Times 18 May 2017

[7] Herald 4 December 2015

[8] Times 26 October 1999

[9] Independent 6 March 2001

[10] Express 16 October 2003

[11] Sun 19 October 2004

[12] Evening Standard 14 February 2007

[13] Guardian 29 February 2008

[14] Evening Standard 12 March 2009

[15] Daily Telegraph 9 May 2009

[16] Harrow Times 25 June 2009

[17] Harrow Times 1 June 2009

[18] Express on Sunday 29 June 2003

[19] Times 5 November 2003

[20] Guardian 4 March 2004

[21] M2 Presswire 8 September 2008

[22] Times 3 August 2010

[23] Independent 3 November 2011

[24] Independent 23 November 2012

[25] Financial Times 14 September 2008

[26] Guardian 14 September 2008

[27] Times 11 April 2018

[28] Daily Telegraph 30 June 2016

[29] Herald 23 July 2017

[30] Daily Politics (BBC TV) 28 September 2016

[31] Daily Mirror 13 April 2018

[32] Times 23 September 2017

[33] Daily Mirror 11 March 2003

[34] Independent 25 September 2002

[35] Times 25 September 2002

[36] Financial Times 11 March 2003

[37] Evening Standard 22 March 2011

[38] Daily Telegraph 12 May 2017

[39] Today (BBC Radio 4) 12 May 2017

[40] Press Association 27 March 2017

[41] Evening Standard 24 June 2016

[42] Herald 27 August 2016

[43] Guardian 20 September 2016

[44] Parliament Managazine 6 January 2017

[45] Yorkshire Post 3 February 2017

[46] Today (BBC Radio 4) 12 June 2017

[47] Sun 26 April 2017

[48] Shropshire Star 15 November 2017

[49] The National 11 April 2018

[50] Guardian 9 April 2018

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