Before entering politics, Chris Heaton-Harris MP joined and eventually ran his family’s business – a wholesale fruit and vegetable company based in New Covent Garden Market. He was also Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands Region of the UK from 1999 to 2009. After standing down from the European Parliament, he worked part-time for Fleishman-Hillard until shortly before his election to the UK Parliament.
Heaton-Harris was appointed to Assistant Government Whip in 2016, and in 2018 he was promoted to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the EU. However, he subsequently resigned over being unable to support an extension of Article 50. Upon Johnson becoming Prime Minister, Heaton-Harris was brought back to the frontbench as Minister for State in the Department for Transport. He was appointed Minister of State for Europe in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in December 2021 and appointed as Chief Whip in February 2022.
View on portfolio
Front of and centre of Heaton Harris's in-tray will be getting Stormont back up and running, and also getting an agreement with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol. As a renowned Brexiteer, Heaton-Harris will have credibility with the Conservative backbenchers on these issues. Having already had his first departmental parliamentary questions, Heaton-Harris has set out that he believes there is a 'fairly obvious landing zone' to resolve the NI Protocol issue with the EU. He went on to say he would prefer a negotiated settlement with the European Union, but the government would continue progressing the Protocol legislation, which breaks the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, regardless. Ultimately however, the NI Protocol issue can only be resolved by the Prime Minister, and Heaton-Harris will merely be the front man for the Truss approach to Europe.