James Wharton profile: A young man in a hurry

Friend of Sri Lanka hopes to catch the eye of Tory leaders

Whichever way you look at it, James Wharton will go far. One of Westminster’s fastest-rising MPs, he is also one of its more well-travelled.

A Conservative since his teens, he became chairman of his local party association at the age of 18 and entered the House of Commons when he was just 26.

On the face of it, he has a long political career in front of him. And yet, with a majority of just 332 votes in the normally solid Labour seat of Stockton South in the North-east, he is smart enough to know that he might not get the chance to represent his constituents for a second consecutive term.

This might explain why he appears in a hurry. By pushing himself into the spotlight, this confident media performer has raised his profile and increased his chances of returning to Westminster in a safe Tory seat at some point in the future.

Wharton’s distaste for Europe is matched by his affection for Sri Lanka, to which he has been a frequent visitor during his short time in Westminster.

The Independent revealed in November that Wharton had made four visits to Sri Lanka in the space of nine months, despite having no significant Sri Lankan community in his constituency or any notable ties to the country. Two of the backbencher’s trips were at the expense of the Sri Lankan government and he was presented with a ceremonial plate by Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who led the Army in the country’s bloody civil war.

Wharton, who has contributed to Parliamentary debates on Sri Lanka, has repeatedly attended Sri Lankan official events in London, twice meeting the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He denied being a cheerleader for its government. “I don’t think it’s disproportionate or unreasonable, no,” he said. Given the vulnerability of his Stockton South seat it is, perhaps, unsurprising that Wharton should be looking to develop an expertise in foreign affairs.

His election victory in 2010 was partly a result of the failure of his Labour opponent Dari Taylor to save jobs at the Redcar steelworks. But Wharton’s success in delivering the Tories a northern seat will have delighted senior members of the party.

He is a rare Tory MP in the north with a compulsion for visiting Sri Lanka. But, as his adoption of David Cameron’s EU Referendum Bill showed, the young MP is most anxious to catch the eye of party leaders in Westminster.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform