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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy